I come from a culture where thinking about separation or divorce still implies a disaster, destruction of a family unit, and negatively impacting kids.
It’s indeed a crumbling of the, labeled by humanity, ideal family unit. But it’s far better than staying in an unhealthy relationship for the sake of kids.
A few years ago, when I realized I was living in a broken marriage, my heart pounded so hard that I almost felt it stop beating. I tried to run away in the opposite direction from the realisation, which was so stark and clear. I saw my marriage ripping into pieces, and all I wanted to do was bandage it with sticky tape to avoid the leakages.
My broken marriage started haunting me day in and day out for months as I was so scared to even dip my tippy-toes into new waters. My pattern of saving the world kicked in, and I became oblivious to all I desired to do.
I wished to save my family unit, although I knew it was no longer intact. Living in a broken marriage was like strangling myself, but I’d put on a facade with the furnished look.
I broke from the inside and I knew that I could not continue to wear this mask. My marriage was disintegrating into splinters, but I was too worried about my kids and what others would say.
The moment I disclosed that I wanted to end my relationship, it felt as if the whole world wanted to try and fix it. Our well-meaning family and friends approached us, thinking they could help mend our relationship back to “normal.”
Subtly, they all started pressuring me to stay in my marriage because that’s what they felt was “right” for me.
But the truth is, no one ever knows what others want or what feels right for them. They can only see what my relationship looked like from their perspective. I was labeled naïve, angry, and stupid. I caved in for a few months only to realise that it’s me who’s not happy, and I can’t convince others to see from my standpoint.
And that’s when I realized that we have been culturally conditioned to believe:
1. No matter what, we need to stay with our spouses “until death do us part.”
2. Separating from your spouse is damaging for the kids.
3. We must sacrifice our needs to keep peace in the family.
4. After we have kids, we must live for them and no longer have our own needs.
5. Prioritising our own needs is selfish.
6. We must make our marriages work for our kids.
In order to clear my conditioning around marriage, I replaced my old belief system with these six beliefs instead:
1. If the relationship is helping you grow, it’s okay to stay together.
2. Prioritising our needs is not selfish—it’s self-care that helps spread love, joy, and happiness.
3. Sacrifice is not love. Sacrifice is ignoring your needs, which creates anguish, resentment, anger, and hatred.
4. Freeing yourself from an unhealthy relationship is a kind and compassionate act toward yourself and others.
5. Staying in an unhealthy relationship to please kids, parents, or others will slowly run you out of steam.
6. A relationship between two adults requires mutual effort. If only one is dragging it to make it work, it’s not a healthy relationship.
Replacing my own belief system with these new beliefs has greatly supported me in stepping into my power and doing what felt right for me. It wasn’t easy at all, but it was worth it.