People are often stuck in bad situations because they can't think past their pain. One woman caller to my radio show related her sad story of total physical rejection by her husband for more than a decade. He refused to see a professional about it so the cause of the sexual disinterest was never discovered.
She doesn't know if he's gay and on the "down-low," impotent, or whether he has some psychiatric issue which makes him avoid sexual intimacy.
This is only one of many situations where one individual is making life unpleasant for the spouse without compassion and without any commitment to change. Other situations can range from constant anger, neglect, addictions, avoidance, passive-aggressive behavior, and so forth.
In these situations you have three options.
First, you can stay and keep suffering, hoping that something will change. Oh wait! You've already been doing that for years.
Second, you can stay and decide to accept that this as your life. That means no more suffering, fretting, struggling, nagging, whining, or complaining. You simply accept, stop fighting it, and you do your best to make the best of it.
The third option is that you leave.
The first option generally leads to deeper unhappiness. The second option is often elected when there is too much to lose by leaving, such as children. This second option requires maturity and inner strength to make the home situation appear pleasant for the well-being of the children. I most often support option two.
Basically, the choice, especially for men, comes down to this: “Do you want to visit your children, or raise them?" I remind the unhappy wife that if he leaves, she will not have her children under her roof and in her arms full time. Also, when the children go for visitation, the wife will have no control over the influences Dad will create.
When an unhappy spouse stays and behaves pleasantly, politely, but reserved, it is a new challenge for the offending spouse. The dynamics are changed dramatically. Sometimes that creates an emotional space for healthier thinking and an improved relationship.
Option three — leaving — is necessary when the situation is dangerous or destructive, especially for the children. I always recommend there be a long paper trail to present to the court to effect monitored visitation or none at all.
People must remember that life is finite. One day you are going to be deceased. Between now and then is all the time you have to make the most of life, yourself, and your relationships. Not making a choice is simply embracing option one: stay and go crazier and crazier. Ultimately, that is your choice — and not the best one.
Dr. Laura (Laura Schlessinger) is a well-known radio personality and best-selling author. She appears regularly on many television shows and in many publications. Read more reports from Dr. Laura — Click Here Now.
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