Why Everyone Should Get Divorced Before Marriage.

Via Alyssa Royse
on Mar 12, 2013
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“The worst marriages are the ones that aren’t bad enough to end.”

I’m pretty sure we were at a cocktail party of some sort when a friend of ours, who’s a therapist, uttered that ominous phrase.

Neither my husband nor I looked at each other. I think we both probably looked at our own feet, or toward some safe and seductive horizon.

But who were we kidding? Our adamant avoidance bore through each other’s souls, nonetheless.

We were neither happy, nor unhappy. Neither in love, nor in hate. We had neither joy nor anger. The fibers of habit that kept us together were in a slow decay that looked admirable from the outside…and outright terrifying in the deepest parts of our souls. The parts we couldn’t look at even with an obtuse gaze.

We were in a marriage that was not bad enough to end.

Don’t get me wrong.

We were genuinely fond of each other. Loved each other dearly. Respected each other enormously. Still, the absence of passion, desire, and shared interests grated on both of us daily. Like a microplaner contributes the subtle addition of flavor to an otherwise bland but palatable dish.

She didn’t know she was talking about us.

But we both did.

One of our problems was that neither one of us were the type to do anything that would make it bad enough to end. Neither one of us are particularly cruel, or selfish, or manipulative. While we both fight our demons and bad habits, we truly did put our family—and certainly our daughter—first. We had no idea how to end a basically good marriage that neither one of us wanted to be in any more.

We both wanted really different things than we did when we got married. And than each other wanted.

We had simply grown in different directions.

In some ways, I see that as the hallmark of a good relationship. We did indeed nourish each other’s growth as individuals. But we grew in different ways. Even as we grew, the relationship itself stagnated.

A few things did happen that made it obvious that something had to give.

Nothing to write a film about or anything, but we both started taking jabs at the relationship to see if we could kill it. Still not at each other. Petulant peccadillos like not doing what we said we would, or agreeing to do things we didn’t want to so that we could later hold it against the other person. But really, it was the relationship we were trying to kill. Trying to make it bad enough to end.

Photo: UnBreakUp.com
Photo: UnBreakUp.com

Anyone versed in microagressions will recognize this as the common pattern of people who are unhappy and don’t know why. I mean, what did we have to be unhappy about? We had a nice house, a great kid, ostensibly great spouses.

But we were unhappy, because we were doing everything we thought we were supposed to, we were doing everything right, and still didn’t feel that thing. That thing that makes you greet each day with excitement and curiosity. That thing that makes you want to tear off each other’s clothes and see what new treasure awaits you that wasn’t there the last time you explored the topography of a lover’s flesh.

We had checked every box on the “This is the Good Life” checklist, and were not happy. We felt cheated by the myth of Happily Ever After. Ever After was seeming like a very long time without the “Happily” part. Longevity, which is the thing we celebrate in this culture, was starting to seem like a sentence more than a celebration.

I didn’t want him to touch me when we slept. I didn’t want to touch the underwear that landed somewhere near, but not in, the laundry basket. I didn’t want him to see me naked in case he would want to touch me, which I didn’t want. And I felt terrible about it because I loved him, I wanted to make him happy.

But I wasn’t in love any more, and knew that I was making him miserable. He knew the same things about himself.

Eventually things added up. It was bad enough to end.

It took us a few years to get there. But we successfully killed the relationship, slowly. And for the most part we did it without hating each other. We agreed it had to end, and the moment we said that, things got better. We actually smiled at each other, a lot.

We also fought a little bit, not much. At one point, in one of our more fighty moments, he came as close as he ever did to yelling at me and basically said, “What took you so long? Why didn’t you leave me years ago?”

Because I loved him. I was selfish. I didn’t want to lose him. I didn’t realize, in the fog of a dying relationship, that I could love him, let the relationship change, and still not lose him.

The only break-ups I had seen modeled for me had been bitter and angry and filled with loss and then great distance. I didn’t want that.

Also, I didn’t want to hurt him. I let myself believe that leaving him would hurt him. That he would be sad to see me go. I managed to not see the much more obvious truth, which is that losing something that makes you unhappy is not a loss to mourn. It is, rather, an opportunity to freely find happiness. If we loved each other as much as we thought we did, we should want that for each other.

We were both sad. Really, we were. But during a long walk along Lake Washington I told him that I had realized there is nothing sad about getting rid of something that hurts you. Maybe we ought to try and look at this as a very positive thing.
That worked. Not easily, but it did work.

It was tough to sell that to outsiders, however, even though we meant it. We came to truly see it that way. But still, we would tell people that we were divorcing and they would step away, as if it was contagious, and utter a low and slow “I’m so sorry.” “Don’t be,” we’d say. “We got rid of something that was hurting us, now we can go find happiness.”

They would step away slowly. That was five years ago.

I learned more about marriage in the process of divorcing him than I did from being married.

It makes me think that maybe we need to get divorced first, in order to know how to be married.

Divorce2Or at least go through the process.

In the state of Washington, getting divorced is quite a process. They make you define every tiny detail of your divorce, of how your relationship will work once you’re no longer married. And if you have kids, every tiny detail has to be accounted for and etched in stone.

Why did no one make us do this before we got married? Before we had a kid? Honestly, that might have changed everything. The process of getting divorced is a perfect how-to guide for marriage. It forces you to think about the things that we don’t think about.

We like to think that marriage is about love. After all, that’s why many—if not most—of us do it. We fall in love, get high on love and, in that totally high state, embark on a lifelong contract that will dictate our every move, whether we see that as benevolent or not. We get married for love, but marriage is about dealing with one concrete reality after another. Divorce does a fabulous job of making that crystal clear.

First order of business was dividing up assets.

Whatever. This was easy for us. But I couldn’t help but think about the many ways this could be used before you get married to make sure you’re on the same page about how to spend money. Do you both agree that a big-screen TV is important? Why? How do you plan to use it? Do you both agree that a $20,000 ring set is important? Why? What else could you do with that money? How about cars? Is it important to you to have new cars, or just cars that run?

I think about the fact that my ex-husband and I shared a car until we split up, because he rode a bike everywhere and having two cars seemed wasteful. My future husband drives a 25-year-old Subaru that’s held together with magical thinking and duct tape. I fell in love with him, in part, for that car. We have the same values.

Next in the divorce process, dividing up debt.

Super easy for us—we have none. We shared that value as well. But across the country, people are drowning in consumer debt. I don’t mean mortgages, student loans and medical debt (which are hideous in their own right, but marginally more legit than debt from buying “stuff” you don’t really need). Are you and your future spouse on the same page when it comes to how much debt is acceptable? And for what?

Money is the largest source of strife in most marriages. And to a large degree, I personally believe that you can tell what a person values by how they choose to spend their money. Talking about how you agree to spend your communal cash is a great way to find out if your value systems are aligned. Write it up, before you get divorced.

Then there’s the future.

Getting divorced also means you look at things like retirement savings, and how they get divided. We never even really talked about this. When we met and married, we were both working. I made as much, and eventually more, than he did. But when we had a baby, I stopped working and cared for a child full time, largely because putting her in daycare cost almost as much as I was making. But we didn’t necessarily think about the fact that, as a result, all of “our” retirement money was being made by him.

When you get divorced, this gets divided up too. So, talking about it when you’re still planning a future together makes way more sense than just ignoring it. Again, are you on the same page? Does this division of responsibility work for both of you?

And then, there’s the kids.afamily

The process of divorce in Washington State means planning out every single (goddamned) carpool between now and the time your kid leaves home. We had to divide up hours in the day, days in the week, weeks in the year.

We had to submit a parenting plan that made my head hurt to show who was responsible for what and how we were each making sure that the other parent got their needs met. Looking at in that kind of scientific light made crystal clear the work that is parenting.

I’ll admit, we just wrote something down to make the judge happy. We hated doing it because we get along so damned well, and are so committed to our daughter having solid relationships with both of us that the whole thing seemed silly. I mean, who needs this?

The answer came when we took the court-ordered parenting seminar that’s required if you have kids and want to get divorced. One tale after another of parents using their children as weapons against their spouse. As punishment and reward for conforming to their expectations. As proof of one thing or another.

When all they were really proving was that they had no idea how to have a functional relationship with each other.

What if they had to do this seminar, and fill out a parenting plan, before having kids, and not after.

I know, it makes no sense to say we need to get divorced before we get married, but….

I don’t know.

If I were in charge, I just might make people do it anyway. Make people go through the piles of paperwork that force you to look at what it really takes to be married. To run a household together. To build a future together. To raise children together.

Even if you did all of that before getting married, it’s still a fraction of the planning that goes into planning a wedding, and that only lasts one day.

And I need to get on that, because now that I’ve gone through this divorce, I’m getting married again, very soon.

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Ed: Lynn Hasselberger


About Alyssa Royse

Alyssa Royse is a hot mama in her 40s raising a teenage daughter and two young step-daughters. She’s a veteran entrepreneur, journalist and PR hack who is now working entirely to promote healthy sexual freedom for all humans—because sexual agency is a human right, and also an important part of health and wellness. A popular speaker and guest writer, she can be found most often on her eponymous blog, AlyssaRoyse.com and as the co-host of the weekly radio show Sexxx Talk Radio on The Progressive Radio Network. (Downloads available on both prn.fm and iTunes.) When she’s not thinking and writing about sex, she’s generally playing with her big, queer, bi-racial family, traveling, reading or at the CrossFit gym sweating. Yes, she would probably love to come speak at your conference, or write something for you, contact info is on her blog.


59 Responses to “Why Everyone Should Get Divorced Before Marriage.”

  1. solfulsoul says:

    I want to share this with others, but elephantjournal is a little too riske for some of my audiences…

  2. jillianlocke says:

    I love your honesty. This is a beautifully raw, clear piece. Coming from a heritage where the marriage success rate is literally 1%, this rings LOUD and true.

    And it also breathes new life into my own situation – my boyfriend of four years and I are watching as our friends get married, have kids, etc., while we…don't. Because we don't want to, and we're perfectly happy with that decision. Instead, he's been my rock as I birth my new business and start a new path, and we're both working through growing pains and new realms of maturity by just coming to understand what it means to be in a real, healthy relationship. What it means to experience real love, real trust, real support…learning what true love actually is (and it's not the size of our house or the conglomeration of our possessions, like it is for some of our not-so-happy married friends). We're learning what it means to be imperfect and go against the grain. What it means to be true to ourselves amidst the pressures of our peers, and to know what it is to always have each other to come back to when the going gets rough and the future seems unclear.

    Again, thank you for this beautiful piece <3

  3. Giraffe says:

    What bothers me about comments like this is that the idelaistic hope still burns alive… people still want it all. The reliability, security, familiarity and comfort from having a life-long partner, best friend, someone to care for you when you're seriously ill, your body is failing, or when shit hits life, and vice versa. Yet people aren't happy without the passion, the desire, the curiosity that comes with the early days of any relationship. Marriage seems to be viewed as something that will freeze-frame the feelings held for one another on the wedding day, and when the reality of life gets in the way, and the domestic supersedes the erotic, people get unhappy and leave. What about being other-centred, and acknowledging the reality that we need partners and people we can depend upon, lovingly, and that probably half the world's population would look on Americans and their divorce rates with utter bafflement – always chasing something different, new, fresh, exciting, never content with the familiar and the routine. What this article seems to say is 'I wanted someone different to love, even though there was nothing wrong with this one, and so did he. We were bored with one another and we told ourselves our lives were no longer compatible because we wanted different things.' A lovely home, a healthy daughter, and great careers each wasn't enough?

  4. Shari says:

    It seems that you and your boyfriend are discovering and living entirely the process of what marriage is intended to stand for, which is great, while your friends who are getting married may be doing it idealistically or without consciousness or thought. To choose to develop real trust, real love, real support can happen within or without a marriage – it saddens me when 'marriage' seems to be viewed as synonymous with 'failure' or 'trap'. Relationship is relationship, regardless of the documentation and the house/possessions that go along with the individuals in it.

  5. Thank you for this. I wish I had read it five years ago or so and saved myself some time, but I had to learn it the hard way. I believe that letting go of someone who I don't hate—yet don't love—was one of the hardest and most important things I've done in my adult life. I hope that there are those who see themselves in your story and save themselves a few years of being not quite alive. xo

  6. @Kokitsuneko says:

    It's a good read and good lesson if you're not in a marriage. If you're in a marriage, then obviously things may have been rushed or something– especially if the couple only knew each other for a little amount of time, let's say 3 years?

  7. @Kokitsuneko says:

    I have to agree. This article seems kind of selfish to me because, that's not true love. True love is selfless and overcomes obstacles for the sake of each other. The person who was trying to suffocate the relationship . . . that is murder to marriage. lol I agree that Americans, they get influenced by the media and by "current social norms" and other countries have barely any issues with marriage rates and marriage problems, even with arranged marriages– sometimes the couples end up being super happy and end up loving each other while here, in America, the divorce rate is 50%, no? It's so damn sad to hear that. I don't want my marriage to ever end and while I'm still young, I want to make sure that I will always continue to love the one that I have chosen, the one who has chosen me as well.

    I'm in a current relationship where even though we're friends, he has taught me a lot and has challenged me to truly love him. It's quite exciting and also very interesting as he wants financial success but, through this, I hope he will also see how much I want to be his long-life friend and partner. We forgive each other and come back stronger through obstacles such as supporting each other and trusting each other. It made me happy reading Jillianlocke's post as that is what I'm going through at the moment.

    Perhaps that boy will be my true one and only someday :')

  8. I'm not in a marriage anymore. It wasn't rushed. Your comment is both vague and confusing, but thanks for your thoughts, nonetheless.

  9. Alyssa says:

    I was married to my husband for nearly 15 years. Nothing rushed. We both changed, over time. We don't regret getting married, or divorced. Both things were the right choice.

  10. Carolyn says:

    This is probably the most real I've read in a long time regarding relationships. Love can be elusive and it certainly changes. It can grow deeper or not. Sometimes the deepness is a huge chasm that will never close. It happens. Thank you for having the courage to share your story, wisdom, humor and realness!!! xxoo

  11. That is such an honest thing to admit: both things *were* the right choice, and a marriage ending is not the same thing as a failure. Thank you. 🙂

  12. elephantjournal says:

    Hah. Well, there's 20 different editorial departments at elephant, and through no particular fault of ours, the "sexuality" and "love and relationships" departments seem to be favorites of the internet out there. We're happy to see our family and green and yoga and politics and social good and equal rights and arts and ecofashion sections get more love!

    In terms of sharing, sharing this article will in no way share any risque content, as you put it, from other departments. We've been around 10 years, as a magazine, and having an editor over the last few months who focused on our "love department" with great success should in no way mark the rest of our work. Stay tuned!

    And if you see something missing, contribute, we'd be honored to share your work. http://www.elephantjournal.com/submit

  13. ehassman says:

    I love this perspective. I got divorced about 4 years ago (something I've written about here before) and it has made me an infinitely better wife in my 2nd marriage. I never thought of it in quite these words, though.

    I felt so trapped in a relationship where I was unhappy, but on paper it didn't look bad enough to warrant ending. Some of that guilt still plagues me occasionally. I think this perspective will help that. Thank you 🙂

  14. Sara Plummer says:

    This is beyond fantastic. Clear, helpful, non complicated. Forwarding. Just fantastic. Thank you!!

  15. trendtranslator says:

    Interesting to hear your experience and I appreciate you sharing it. I can see that you ended up in a happier place with another marriage but I don't think that people should divorce just because the passion of the early years has waned. Marriages go through changes, like people do.

    I don't think one should compare one's marriage to the ideal marriage in your imagination but instead your current marriage to the prospects of living alone and what it might mean to be a single parent. This could bring a feeling of liberation or be terrifying. Being single has a lot of downsides that seem to be forgotten when some people consider divorce. Sometimes people are just looking for a change and don't realize the loneliness, pressure and financial strain that can come from a divorce.

    I'm not against divorce if differences are irreconcilable. But the situation you described just sounded like a marriage that needed to be rejuvenated, not thrown away. I'm not speaking about your marriage, specifically, just ones like you described.

  16. Alyssa says:

    Well, the marriage I described was my marriage, and it could not be rejuvenated. Not all marriages can, or should. The ideal of longevity over happiness is warped one, in my opinion. (Though we do it with life itself, don't we. We talk more about keeping people alive longer than we do about making sure they are happy while they are alive.) By the time we were divorced, we wanted totally different things out of life. We hadn't forgotten why we loved each other, or cared for each other, but we wanted totally different things out of our time. I could not and would not ask him to give up things that he wanted, and that made him happy, in order to be with me. Nor would I be willing to do that for him.

    We talked long and hard about what we wanted to model for our daughter, and decided, very consciously, that we wanted her to know that her happiness wasn't just an after thought to be addressed after other people's external expectations for her were met. And that relationships can change but still be strong and respectful. And that even when things are hard, and when we are scared, we need to – and can – treat people with trust and respect.

    Perhaps I'm selfish, but I'm not willing to sacrifice my own happiness just to stay married because other people consider divorce a failure, or "giving up." And I wouldn't want anyone else I love to do that either.

    We talked about how the strain of splitting up would impact us. We decided it was worth it. But regardless, I do not think that marriage is something that one should do because it's "easier" than being single. All of those same challenges can also present great opportunity. And all of them were better for me than being unhappy day in and day out.

    I hate to think that if I had stayed married to my ex, I never would have met the man I am about to marry. A partner in every way who totally sets my soul on fire. I am glad I didn't miss the chance to meet him.

  17. Monkey says:

    When I read this article I noticed myself thinking about something else I have heard about this kind of stale relationship being a rite of passage. That it is difficult to find that passion-filled, true expression of deep partnership without first experiencing the program of 'marriage'.

  18. Gerry Ellen says:

    I have had two marriage "contracts" that were integral parts of my journey thus far. Both ended the way they ended. One amicable (financially and mentally); the other one, a bit more hostile and tougher on the heart. Navigating through life with a partner at any stage of life is quite a process. Kudos to you for opening yourself up to the readers re. your journey. People change, life plans change, we grow up, we grow apart, we move on….it's actually quite a beautiful process because it's all part of the blueprint of our souls. Noting forgiveness and love keeps it all real. There are no rules. It is your life, your choices. All good. Great article!

  19. Jodeen says:

    Beautiful article. I have walked this story. Was married for over 20 years, had a daughter. We were seen as the dream couple from the outslde and even at our worst we had a better marriage than most anyone I know. Loved each other very, very much but I was no longer in love and it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I felt like such an ungrateful asshole. It took 5 years to be able to make the split and another 2 before divorce papers were signed. He is a dear man, and we have put our daughter and our parenting at the forefront of every decision we made and it dictated how we dealt with the entire situation. Utter grace, respect. love. We are on such good terms and our daughter is amazing. I recently went through a bout with breast cancer and he put together a Gofundme campaign to help with my expenses. He is remarried. I had a powerful love in my life the last 4 years, and he and I have just parted ways as well. Maintaining our friendship and honoring how much we love each other even as we are in very different places in our lives. On different paths. I feel so blessed to have loved these men and to have parted on such good and strong terms. I look forward to what is next.

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  21. Kriya Yoga says:

    "We were neither happy nor unhappy. Neither in love nor in hate. We had neither joy nor anger. The fibers of habit that kept us together were in the slow decay that looked admirable from the outside and outright terrifying in the deepest parts of our souls. The parts we could look at even with an obtuse gaze.

    We were in a marriage that was not bad enough to end."

    That's what we call "first world problems".

    My god, you people are so "un-haaaaaaaapy" because you have so much that you don't appreciate all of it.

    "And I need to get on that, because now that I’ve gone through this divorce, I’m getting married again, very soon."

    But of course! Another first world problem. And you'll probably end up "un-haaaaaaapy" again. And divorced again.

  22. Auki says:

    Perhaps all married folks can benefit from having a first or "practice" marriage to knock off the rough edges and learn valuable lessons in the art of marriage. The author of this article does come off as rather self-absorbed. On the other hand, I understand what she is getting at. My wife and I are both in our second marriage and have been happy for over fifteen years. We are quite grateful for the treasure trove of valuable lessons we each learned in our first (or practice) marriages. 🙂

  23. Emie says:

    Maybe she will end up unhappy and divorced again. Who cares?

    The point of this article (in my opinion) is that you can have a successful marriage/relationship without having a lifelong one. What would have benefit of her staying in her marriage? besides merely being able to say that she did.

    The whole concept of "first world problems" frustrates me. We shouldn't miss out on opportunities or not do things just because people in other parts of the world don't have the chance to. That is just silly.

  24. Nina says:

    I have believed for years that getting married should be as hard as getting divorced. I absolutely think that before couples could be issued a marriage certificate that they should be required to sit down with someone and asked certain questions about how they will deal with things like finances, child rearing, where to live, pets, etc. and they should answer these questions anonymously then sit together to discuss their answers and decide if they should still get married. Most relationships will get stagnant, not all, but most. I also believe marrying too young is a big part of the divorce problem. As we grow, our ideals change, what we want changes and some of us grow up and some don't. I thought I was a very mature 19 year old when I got married. I felt that anyone could make a marriage work if they work at it. Should be that way but when your spouse is just an unhappy person and no matter that they work and they don't cheat, don't abuse, living with an unhappy person isn't easy. Had we waited until we were older to marry things might have been a little different. We are still friends but he struggles financially and I am a single mom who owns her own home and two cars. We definitely took different paths in life.

  25. Kriya Yoga says:

    And what about her kid? No thought of the effects on him/her in all of this? Jesus, is it all about the adults in this country? What gives?

  26. Emie says:

    Ideally, a child will end up with two biological parents who stay happily married for the rest of their lives.

    Happily being the key word there.

    I don't know about you, but I would definitely rather have happy but divorced parents than unhappily married parents. I have many friends who say that their parents divorce was the best thing for their family. and others who disagree. It often just depends on the nature of the divorce and the parents ability to co-parent afterwards.

  27. Kriya Yoga says:

    Emie, there was a scientific study that was done that showed kids did better when parents stayed married (in cases where there was no abuse or extreme behaviors like addictions) but the marriage was not in the parents' own opinions a "happy" one. As long as kids see two functional adults who are able to get on civilly with each other, kids are happy and well-adjusted and generally do well.

    There's a huge misconception in this culture that marriage is supposed to be full of romance and passion and all of those amazing feelgood brain chemicals and hormones that couples feel when they first fall in love and start a life together. Science has shown that the average for that physiological phenomena is about 3 years, give or take.

    The problem in this culture is that marriage is built around that shaky and temporary foundation rather than a foundation of a higher principle. One higher principle is "family". Traditionally marriage was never about just the individual or the couple, but about the larger ideal of family. That is why "staying together for the sake of the kids" used to be a valid reason for a couple to stay together after the passion died, but suggest it to a couple today and they look at you like you just supported China's invasion of Tibet.

    Beyond "family" there are even higher, transcendent ideals of marriage, but the concept of "dharma" is beyond the general scope of a blog written about frivolous divorce.

    My question to the author of this piece is: why bother getting married again at all? Why not just live with your new partner? What is the point of a legal marriage in your circumstance?

  28. Kriya Yoga says:

    Osho is full of b.s. in that video. "With the disappearance of marriage will disappear prostitution"?! Ridiculous assumption. Moreover not one word about "children" in that video. Hint: marriage was not "invented" or marriage did not evolve for the benefit of adults. It evolved to fulfill the needs of offspring. If you don't want kids or never have kids then of course there's no reason to marry. But then you must not only use birth control but also tread very carefully with all those STDs that are out there. So either way, caution and some sort of discipline over one's own sexuality must be practiced.

  29. Kriya Yoga says:

    "Perhaps all married folks can benefit from having a first or "practice" marriage to knock off the rough edges and learn valuable lessons in the art of marriage. "

    What is the use of going to all the financial expense and legal hassle to have a state and federal recognized "marriage" in that case? Why not just live together, like many Americans are doing already?

  30. OleManJake says:

    Absolutely spot on. Something I wished I'd read or known years ago. I've found that you don't really "know" someone until you go through the divorce 'process'. That said, I think that is why with this second marriage I am now in, I took so long and asked so many questions. I ensured that we were in agreement on hot topic issues as the ones you listed above.

  31. Kriya Yoga says:

    " We are still friends but he struggles financially and I am a single mom who owns her own home and two cars. "

    Does he pay any alimony or child support? Many men are broke because of those.

  32. Rachel G. says:

    I keep re-reading this amazing article. I'm 31 and used to be a commitment-phobe; I have never had a relationship that has lasted longer than 1 year. I feel very ready to settle down at this point (and my biological clock is ticking so loudly it's deafening.) I'm dating a sweet, wonderful man who would make a fantastic husband and father– but I have random, recurring doubts already. Unfortunately, I can't tell yet if this is self-sabotage? Or my gut telling me that he's not the right fit for me, long term? I'm open to this relationship becoming a successful life partnership. Any advice on how to see signs, or just tolerate my own over-active, fear-based imagination?

    And to all the haters in these comments: happiness is, in fact, what it's all about. Even if it means a major change of plans. I commend the author for her clarity and calm in what could have been a very bad storm.

    Thanks for sharing! So grateful 🙂

  33. kcab says:


    I acknowledge most of us lack wisdom and clarity upon entering the marital contract and I hesitate to judge someone else's journey but when kids are involved, sorry you're not fulfilled but life ain't all about you anymore. The devastation divorce wreaks on children is under-estimated.

    I find American's need for self-actualization and personal fulfillment taking a rather selfish turn these days.

  34. Yogawolf says:

    You really don't know that you would not have regained the passion; evolved to regain shared interests and life goals ~ you never opened yourself to that possibility… or perhaps you did…but that's not what you describe. ALL relationships have ups & downs. Happiness is found within ourselves, it's not something that any mate provides to you. 17 years in, I can say we HAD the feelings you had ~ we took a couple of short breaks. We chose to commit ourselves to improving our communication, and our connection. I must say that we are SO lucky we didn't give up. I have had many "new" HOT passionate years, and we are communicating and sharing, BOTH our individual & couple experiences on an incrediably deep level. (Separate interests have taught us much, and kept our relationship fresh…continually evolving.) The truth is you could have chosen to be happy with your husband, you did not want to. It doesn't make you a bad person, but it also means you decided to give up. Yes, you would have never met the man you are about to marry…that is because you would have gotten to know the man you were married too better. That too would have given you opportuntities…if you would have seen the challenges AS opportunties. It's not about longetivity over happiness; it's about allowing your commitment to open you to your happiness. I hope you learn this soon.

  35. KrisW says:

    I love articles like these. No matter how persuasive I can be, some guy's don't get the message that society merely regards them as a means to an end. That most women are incapable of commitment and basic human empathy with anyone other than other women and girls. Granted most young guy's get the message from the public school system, but there are still some who fall through the cracks and never see how misandrist our society is. So again, I thank you for helping to make it easier to reach them.

  36. lesane says:

    i married for 9 years without any child, and with so many trials from my husband side and friends, well God visited me last 6 month ago when i contacted redrock for help, at first i did not have that believe that it was going to work, first he told me to have that great trust that what he his going to do for me will work, and He gave me all my info. firstly i thought it was a joke, He mailed again and instruct me to read the mail at the subject that if i need to solve my present predicament i should replied back. immediately i write him back i known fully well that my day has come for my present predicament. Please be strong in faith and believe God sent. i was help by this great man and how am carry a baby and it for 2 month am happy that my home is in peace and total control i bless God that make this great man to come to me in the time of trouble thanks to redrock of [email protected] God well bless the good work for you hand am happy again that i will soon be a mother great thanks [email protected]

  37. Amonite says:

    Love is a choice, not an emotion. It needs to be constantly nurtured. Doing what is best for someone else is hard, and requires sacrifice. If a relationship is lukewarm, it is because one or both parties have stopped making the daily choice to nurture love and put his/her spouse first.

    The first year of dating anyone introduces hormones and endorphins into the body – it's the 'honeymoon period' – this is not love nor is it meant to last longer than a year. (It's actual purpose is to help a married couple who don't know each other get to know each other on the best terms/ease into each others company – but as our current culture no longer does arranged marriages, we are dating during the honeymoon period and think that's love for life!).

  38. Amonite says:

    It wasn't a successful marriage. Marriage is a covenant contract "until death to us part", where one daily renews their commitment to love and honor their spouse. Love is a choice, so even if you have stopped for a while you can always renew it. (Rather than passive-aggressively murdering any feelings or concern you might have left for your spouse).

    If you stop bothering to love your spouse, and then divorce them, that's a failed marriage. If you search for chemistry and excitement rather than the real foundations of friendship and sacrificial love (which will lead to true desire as love is nurtured!) – then marriage becomes just like the dating game. It's a worthless contract, a commitment with no meaning.

  39. Kelly says:

    I disagree. My parents stayed married for my brother and I and I honestly wish they would have divorced when we were young. The strain put on our family because of this toxic relationship was unbearable on some days.

  40. shetuck says:

    Recently divorced from a man I was married to 30 years. My husband just "didn't want to do this anymore." I am still reeling. This reminds me of him. Just don't want to do it anymore? Selfish.

  41. A. Coleman says:

    Thank you for your perspective and your honesty.
    I want to say that I am somewhat perturbed (but not surprised) by some of the comments here below. I am having a hard time how so many people can be offended by a decision that in no way effected and can pass judgment on a situation/relationship that is not our own. I think comments like these are what make people stay in unhealthy situations for longer than they should. You get peer pressured into marriage (consciously or unconsciously) when you are in your 20's and then pressured to stay married later in life no matter how unhappy you might be. I hear people say that parents should stay together for the kids. This I just do not understand. Seems to me kids will benefit most from loving co-parents who are actually friends and they will learn to live honestly. I see someone mentioned that these are "first world problems." I can certainly admit that that can be true. Yet we do have this freedom in this country. We can live freely in pretty much any area of life we choose. Should we squander this privilege? Or should we embrace it. What good would it a spouse for me to stay with them out of obligation. That to me is what would be truly selfish. I find it selfless to let that person go, to allow them to find someone whose heart beats with theirs. I think we might all benefit to save judgment and understand that everyone walks their own path and their freedom is theirs to use however they see fit.

  42. Anne says:

    Not to sound crass or rude, because I'm genuinely curious: how do you know that the man you are marrying will continue to set your soul on fire for years to come? As we all know, it is difficult to keep and maintain "the spark" for an entire marriage. I got married for the first time last year at age 35, to the most wonderful man I've ever met. We've had our moments and times of frustration, but he is absolutely the love of my life….however, I expect the spark to come and go. I expect to have to do a little work to rejuvenate our relationship as it grows and evolves. I watched my parents go through hell in their marriage, they most certainly wanted different things than what they did when they got married. My mom left a couple times but they eventually went to therapy and learned to compromise. After 41 years together, I can honestly say they are a great team and very happy. While I don't think every couple can achieve this transformation, it certainly seems worth a try!

  43. Jojo says:

    I disagree with the above "you should be satisfied with what you have" comment. When something becomes stagnant and unfresh why would you keep at it? And a relationship should be passionate and interesting always. There might be cycles where there dips and highs, but there should be cycles not just a straight line of nothingness. People don't realise that happiness isn't something special it is in fact our birthright. Why would you stay in a situation where you are not happy? And the above comment is completely ignoring the part that we do grow apart in our relationships, and the beginnings and ends are completely normal. We do it in all other parts of our lives: friendships, work acquaintances. We let old ones go and new ones come in. Not because we're bored or whatever but because people change and interests divert. It really makes one thing who came up with the idea that marriage should be a lifetime thing. Imagine being committed to a friend you don't really feel that much joviality and friendship for, you've become too different. The answer would be simple give the friendship space or let it grow apart. Somehow this just doesn't seem acceptable in marriages. And really what are marriages but just another realtonship.

  44. Jojo says:

    Yogawolf your experience was your personal experience, no more. It had the personalities and traits of you and your partner, things went the way they did for you because of the people involved. This does not hold true for all people. You're projecting yourself strongly on this situation when no two peoples relationships are alike. Also these statements "you out could have chosen to be happy", you could have done this , done that are again from your perspective. Unless you know the author personally you can make the final call. Is it too much off a stretch for you to imagine that sometimes parting ways is in fact the best path to take?

  45. Jojo says:

    Thank you, this comment is like a diamond in a coal mine of all those negative comments.

  46. Elizaroo says:

    Thank you for this insightful article. I am in the very marriage that the author describes, and recognize the many ways I am blessed to have the security and partnership of a good man and a great dad. But certain feelings can not be feigned. As much as I may try to conjure these feelings, the metaphor always returns; we are two banks along the same river, upon which floats the sacred vessel of family, the container of our children, that we both place above our own happiness. But The truth is- our banks will never meet, can never really touch, and will always remain separate… without our children, the river will grow so wide, we will not be able to see the other at all. There is love and respect, but the soul of the marriage has died. It is impossible to put this into terms that many will understand, and some are quick to judge and pontificate. Leaving an "ok" marriage is fraught with paradoxical feelings and I appreciate an article that can represent the complexity of emotion one experiences in this position.

  47. srh says:

    People need to know the definition of the world obligation before they use it to justify divorce. One of the synonyms of the word obligation is commitment, which is required for a successful marriage. Another synonym is the word promise, which both man and woman vow to each other before God, a minister, and and a few hundred witnesses. There is no freedom to serve ones self, after vowing to love and serve another.

  48. srh says:

    "I love him, but I'm not in love with him anymore." I don't understand how this statement can make sense to any intelligent person, especially when used as an excuse to snatch the rug out from under someone that you JUST SAID YOU LOVE. An excuse to ABANDON someone you vowed not to abandon when life got hard. Vowed before God, a preacher, and a bunch of witnesses! WHERE'S THE LOVE? Sounds like maybe you love yourself and your agenda more? Marriage is about LOVING and SERVING the OTHER person. There is no way a marriage will work when one or both spouses are self centered and foolishly focused on unrealistic expectations of what marriage is SUPPOSED to be. Real life is not a romance novel, a romantic comedy, or childish fairy tales. Marriage is for grown folks, not children.

  49. SunnySugarland says:

    I am not looking for passion and a hot date with my husband of 32 years. I'm looking for a drop of affection, a hug or a simple kiss. My life is dry, even a complement after spending hours in the kitchen and produce a good meal. I am done and spent, I would rather live a few more years loved and hugged and the rest in nursing home.