Thursday, October 30, 2014

Three Options for a Bad Marriage

Today has been a sad day. No huge reason. Just the dynamic of what my kids have to deal with on a day to day basis because I'm divorced from their father.

When I mentioned this on facebook, a friend said that she was a child of divorce, and because she doesn't want to put her children through the pain she went through, she is staying in a bad marriage. Well, that makes me even sadder. So I just want to offer advice to her and anyone else who might feel stuck like this. It's advice that I learned from my counselor, and it just makes so much sense.

No, not one of your options. Sorry.

People in a relationship have to be on relatively the same level of emotional health to make it work. Imagine a rubber band around two fingers representing the two people and their relationship. When one person starts to grow forward, it creates tension, and one of three things will have to happen to keep the relationship in tact:

1.) The person trying to get healthy will have to regress.
2.) The person who is not as healthy will have to grow.


3.) The person who refuses to get healthy will leave.

Yes, I believe staying together for your children is honorable. I HATE HATE HATE it when a person tells me, "Kids are happier when the parents are happy." I think, "Well, now I know you had an affair." It's an incredibly selfish justification. And the person doesn't even sound happy when the say it.

Rant aside, the healthiest situation for children is to see their parents demonstrating love in all relationships. If you are choosing not to grow to keep your marriage in tact, then that is a decision made out of fear, not love.

So my advice is to grow. Not to pursue happiness, but to grow. That means read your Bible, go to counseling, join an accountability group, set goals, set boundaries, treat your spouse with love and respect, and pray. If you refuse to regress, then one of three two things will have to happen:

1.) Your spouse will have to grow, thus your marriage will become healthier.


2.) The unhealthy person will leave.

This is the hardest thing to do. And it is the most loving thing to do.

I know from experience. My ex did come back at one point, and he even said, "This relationship won't work unless you ____________." I refused to regress. I lost my husband, and I felt guilty about it at first. But had I _____________, I would have taught my kids that loving meant giving the other person what they want, when really it's about giving them what they need.

I grew. He left. And there's garbage to deal with on a daily basis because of it, but at least I'm learning to deal with it in love.

Just this morning I asked God to be my "divorce coach." Because I still have a long way to go.

Here's wishing you all a life of love and growth. You--and your kids--are worth it.


  1. Some really good thoughts. I also think there's a third option. The healthy person or the one trying to get healthy leaves, not because they want to be happy, but because they want to be healthy (and escape abuse) which will lead to happiness. And I believe a person seeking a divorce can find happiness without having an affair. In fact, I know it! There's peace in pursuing your own health and whether you stay in a bad marriage or divorce, it's going to be hard. But I agree, making decision out of love is paramount and sometimes to stop the pain and abuse in your life and in your children's, you have to make hard choices.

  2. Great blog. A couple of comments--first, where did you find that cartoon? I'm always looking for visuals--and rarely find a good one.

    Next, my parents had an unhealthy relationship because of alcoholism. My mother kicked my father out one year because of it. I was college age at the time, so it may not apply to the staying in it for the kids philosophy, but I was ANGRY when she took him back. Sometimes it's much better for the kids to be out of the relationship. I know for a fact, it was better for my daughter.

    The next segment of my blog will be very helpful as far as divorcing for neglect and abuse--sometimes people don't divorce because Jesus and Paul only specified adultery and desertion.

    I can't wait until you guest blog for me.

  3. Great perspective from both of you. I think what you are talking about would go under the "set boundaries" part of the getting healthy option. Carol, when your mom took your dad back, she regressed. It was as if he said, "Our relationship cannot work unless you accept me as an alcoholic." She made the choice out of fear. You loved her and wanted more for her.

    In any abusive situation, in order to get healthy, you have to set boundaries. The unhealthy spouse will call this manipulative and controlling, but really such a phrase is them trying to control you. By setting boundaries, you are controlling your own actions and EMPOWERING the other person to make a healthy choice. Example: "If you cheat on me, this relationship is over." If they cheat on you, that was their choice to end the relationship. OR: "If you get drunk again, I'm changing the locks." You're not telling them what to do. You are telling them what YOU will do. And you are valuing yourself in the process.

    Children will see this example and learn from it. Like in my situation, I taught my kids that loving someone means giving them what they need, not what they want. All stuff I had to learn the hard way.

    I look forward to visiting your blog as well, Carol. Thanks for having me.

  4. Hi Angela
    you don't have to publish this but I can't see a contact email for you so am putting it here.
    You used to have on you blog an interview you did of me. The URL was ( I think)

    It seems to have gone. One of my readers has been asking where it is. Can you please email me to let me know if it's possible to find the interview. Or alternatively, would it be possible for you to send me the interview text so i could publish it on A Cry For Justice which is where I now blog.

    I don't mean to be pushy. You may have had a reason to take down the interview, and if so I respect that. But if it's just missing because of some blog reconfiguration, and you can make it available again, I'd appreciate it.
    kind regards

    Barbara Roberts

  5. True enough, a marriage won't work unless the people in it will. It's all a matter of whether you are willing to grow or regress as the other person does. However, outside all logical reasons, love must always be practiced. To be able to move forward as husband and wife, communication is a must, and by that, I mean you should always listen and understand when your spouse talks. If that fails, and one decides to leave, then we should respect that. See, marriage is a pursuit of happiness with someone by your side willing to work it out, and respect your development and your changes. In any case, I'm sure you will find your happiness, Angela. I'm betting on it. I wish you all the best! :)

    Clifford Wheeler @ Powell Spencer & Partners