Anyone who knows me, knows that I am one of the most dedicated and committed women when it comes to anything I say, “Yes” to. I will give any task my “all” and work just as hard to make sure all parties involved are sure of my efforts and abilities, whether they acknowledge it or not. On the flip side of that, anyone who knows me, also knows that when I decide that I no longer want to commit or just never intended to engage from the beginning, there is nothing ambiguous about how I “move.” They will know that my interest is not there and feel the absence of my existence. It could be a “Nya” thing or an “Aries” thing, either way, it is embedded in me.
Marriage is valuable to me. My current marriage WAS valuable to me and I’m sad to say, it will all be over soon. The idea of committing to someone, or being there for someone when the feelings, and terms and conditions aren’t always pleasant, TO ME, is what life is all about. I don’t believe people are put on this earth to be alone. My heart aches for those whose circumstances, condition them to believe that they are meant to be by themselves.
I hear people say that marriage isn’t for everyone and it probably isn’t. It’s not for the ‘weak,’ it takes a substantial level of maturity, and hard work. While my profession allows me to help people navigate through life’s challenges, I can’t tell them who to love and in what capacity. I do know that whenever a couple comes to me for treatment, my intent is and will always be, to keep them together. However, there comes a time when staying together isn’t feasible. In fact, staying in any unhealthy relationship of any kind can take years from one’s life. Be kind to yourself.
Here are 5 Signs It Is Time to Divorce…
1. You are unhappy.
Being unhappy and being uncomfortable are two different things. (Please read that part again 🤔) Relationships should make you uncomfortable because they promote growth. However, loving someone should not make you feel sad, depressed, alone, and overall unhappy. Keep in mind that happy moments do not equate to a happy state of mind. (Please read that part again 🤔)
My “soon-to-be ex-husband” and I had a lot of happy moments. We hung out all the time and as I stated in previous posts, we enjoyed each other. You’re probably asking yourself, “Well, what happened?” Whenever someone asks me that question, all I can hear is a verse from “Come and See Me” by PartyNextDoor:
“Things change, people change, feelings change too…Never thought the circumstances woulda changed you…”
I found that while I was happy with myself, my sons and my career, I often felt alone in my efforts to maintain my marriage. This made me unhappy and the longer it continued to be that way, the more unhealthy the dynamic became. I don’t know about the rest of you but when I am unhappy, the entire household becomes fully aware and that is not good. When a leader of a household isn’t happy, the unhappiness becomes a disease that can be transmitted to its members, just by walking into a room. All of a sudden, the children are upset when they go to school; the meals don’t taste as good; the participation in family-time becomes less and passive-aggressive behaviors and defensiveness becomes the primary form of interaction amongst the couple.
If you are unhappy in your marriage, it is your obligation to identify the source and rectify it. Do not allow unhappiness to linger. It will literally make you sick. Continue to have the conversation, no matter how much the other party avoids it. Seek resources that are FOR the marriage for support and don’t let anyone downplay your feelings, thoughts and ideas. Being unhappy long term in any circumstance is not healthy. Life is too short for that.
2. You find yourself physically ill often.
When the mind decides to do what it wants, the human body has a way of intervening and telling it that “it’s being hard-headed…” This reminds me of something my mother use to say to me when I disobeyed her as a child: “A hard head makes a soft behind…” Ironically, this is still true in adulthood, except “natural consequences” become the tools that holds us accountable. I know this sounds bizarre but in the past two years, I’ve had multiple colds, the flu, sinus infections, ear infections, and migraines. Some may argue, “Well Nya, it could be allergies; it could be the change in the weather; it could be that you’re around new people every day...”
In return, I’d argue, “While there may be some truth to that, there was a time in my life that my immune system and spirit was strong enough to fight off the germs and at a later time, my immune system became ineffective because I was STRESSED…”
I don’t care what anyone says, stress can and will, kill you. Stress weakens the immune system making it difficult to fight off germs and bacteria that we come in contact with every day. Alleviate your stress levels by minimizing all things that alters your heart rate. If you are stressed in your marriage, get a healthy outlet. Don’t be afraid to ask for space from the things that trigger you. It is OK to take a break from the arguments, the misunderstandings, the hypervigilance and the shame of things not working out in your favor. Never stop seeking solutions. Be kind to yourself.
3. You become mentally unhealthy.
In my almost 2 decades of counseling, I’ve learned that a lot of people resist marriage and commitment because they fear their hearts won’t be taken care of. Most people play “games” to protect themselves and I understand it. Marrying the wrong person can turn a person insane. If you find yourself unhappy, stressed and insane in your marriage, it may be time to part ways.
What many people don’t realize is that relationships are meant to promote you, not demote you. Depending on what a person may have experienced in their childhood, he or she may truly believe that drama and being in the trenches in a marriage is normal. I am here to tell them and anyone who believes that, IT IS NOT!!
Constant exposure to anything that hurts your feelings or upsets you, is emotional abuse. Just like physical abuse, emotional abuse can lead to mental health issues. If you’ve been following this blog since 2017, then it’s safe to say that you have an idea of some of my experiences. Having emotional and physical protection by my spouse is highly important to me. Unfortunately, I was missing that in my marriage or at least I didn’t see proof of it.
Staying in something that didn’t meet my emotional needs CONSISTENTLY, caused me to have high levels of anxiety. I found myself having frequent panic attacks, skipping meals because I couldn’t keep food down, and being hypervigilant about everything. I saw things as happening that probably weren’t happening but because my mind was conditioned to go without, I was convinced I was ‘without.’ I eventually began to take Ativan to get through my toughest moments, but then it dawned on me, “Before this marriage, I was fine. I had control over who I let in my life. I had mental stability. I was surrounded by people who wouldn’t dare let anyone speak ill of me, disrespect me or ostracize me…” The most important person in that group of people though, was ME. I was an expert at protecting ‘me’ and my ‘love’ for my husband, allowed me to bargain with all of that. So much so, it drove me insane. I stopped taking the ativan and started taking care of me. I put myself first and I literally had to stop giving a “fuck.”
If you find your mind slowly leaving you in your marriage, get help. Find a counselor, hang out with your friends, pray and ask your higher power for strength to hold onto yourself. You need you…
4. You’ve compromised so much of yourself that you forgot who you were.
It is very natural to compromise some things in a relationship. Healthy relationships are all about give and take. We know going into a marriage, we’re not going to get all the things we want and truthfully, we shouldn’t. We don’t learn anything beneficial about ourselves when we get everything we want in our relationships. However, what happens when a person has given EVERYTHING to their spouse and have nothing to show for it?
When you love a person, you unconsciously give them power over you. You can only hope that they use that power for good and nothing more. Unfortunately, some spouses are great at manipulation and chipping away at their loving spouse, one day at a time. The compromise doesn’t happen simultaneously. It happens gradually over time.
First, you accept the circumstances. Then you accept the behaviors. Next, you accept the excuses, then you find yourself making excuses too. Lastly, the entire situation has become one “big ball” of disrespect and there is no longer proof of your strength or existence.
I don’t know about the rest of you but I had to look up and ask myself, “How did I get here? I would have never accepted this shit years ago…” I clearly forgot who I was. I allowed things to occur in my marriage that I would have never accepted upfront. I shouldn’t have accepted it on the back-end either.
If you find yourself compromising so much of yourself that you forget who you are, find a mirror. Look in that mirror and ask yourself, “Did I just give or take a last name or did I get rid of my first name too?” There is a difference.
If there are things that you enjoyed and you don’t enjoy them anymore, that’s a problem. If you find yourself spending more time making excuses for behaviors that you know are wrong, that’s a problem. If you can’t list at least five things that you get from the marriage, that’s a problem. Find yourself, immediately.
5. You’ve tried everything you could to save it.
I strongly encourage any couple who comes to me to exhaust all resources before considering divorce. I am a firm believer that anything worth having is worth saving, but it takes two people. I am a mental health professional and it is very true that we are always assessing something. I can, without a doubt and whole heartedly admit that I assessed my marriage and exhausted every resource before filing for divorce.
I communicated; I listened and changed behaviors that were hurtful to him; we did counseling; I reached out to his religious organization; I even attempted to make amends with relationships I didn’t even dismantle; I prayed; I journaled, and we even separated for a while, but none of it proved sufficient. Truth of the matter is, you can’t make a person want, what you want, especially if their desire isn’t genuine and possibly based on survival.
If you’re a wife like me, you’re probably an enabler and a compromiser. Chances are you’ve made life very comfortable for your spouse and it’s probably because all you wanted to do was see them WIN. Unfortunately, because of where a person may be mentally, they don’t always see the value in what someone else brings to the table. Sometimes the best resolution isn’t counseling or “sticking” it out just one more year. The solution is to recognize what the marriage is costing you. Think about what you could have done differently, get your ‘shit‘ and sit it at a table that is already made for you…
This post was written to give insight on when it’s time to move on from a potentially toxic situation. This post was not intended to support divorce or advocate for it. Nya B will always be an advocate and support of marriage.
Nya B is an author, mental health clinician, adjunct professor and speaker. To learn more, follow her on IG and Twitter @author_nya_b or on Facebook at Nya B. Check out her website, http://www.nya-b.com
2 thoughts on “Leaving It In My Rearview: When It’s Time to Divorce”
Honestly, I need to send this article to my father.
So many people think divorce is the worst thing that can happen- especially when kids are involved. But I can promise you this: Keeping an obviously broken marriage together “for the sake of the kids” is way worse than watching your parents get a vaguely amicable divorce. Especially when one parent likes to continuously tell you “if it weren’t for your kids I’d have divorced your dad long ago”.
Divorce is not the end of the world; people grow, and change, and sometimes the love you once had doesn’t withstand it. There’s nothing wrong with that. But staying in a relationship that makes you miserable and can’t be fixed? Isn’t valiant, or strong; It’s much stronger to choose happiness, sanity, and health, and walk away when it’s clear that’s what you need to do.
I agree with you that divorce is not the worst thing that can happen and sometimes, it’s very beneficial for all parties involved. Thank you for your comment and reading.
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