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I Left A Bad Marriageā€¦ And Went From Hopeless To Happy

08 Feb 2017

On my 30th birthday, a little shy of my 5th wedding anniversary, I pulled the plug on my marriage. Was it a simple decision? Did I have complete clarity about whether it’s the right decision or not? Did it happen in one fell swoop? No, not by a long shot. It was a long, arduous, and heartbreaking process. When I look back on it now, I feel it’s a minor miracle that I managed to get myself out of that.

It started a year before. The ex and I had been going to a therapist for over a year, individually and as a couple. We were trying hard to resolve our issues and make our marriage work, as much for ourselves as for our 1-year-old son. I was struggling with a bad marriage and postpartum depression.

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The ex had just returned from Mexico where he’d had yet another affair. I was still trying to come to terms with it, but I could feel my happiness and sanity slipping through my fingers. I felt helpless and confused. The stress had started telling on me physically. I’d have crippling backaches which wouldn’t let me move, high fevers and severe weight gain. Despite the therapy and my best efforts to make sense of what was happening and how to change it, I didn’t see much hope for it working out. Then, in one individual session with my therapist, I found something that made sense.

My therapist asked that we both get to the core of our issues with each other. We write down up to 3 things, which are non-negotiable for us in the marriage and see whether the other person is willing to work with us on it. At this time the ex was in Canada for work. I emailed him and he agreed. We set a date and shared our list. I had just one point. Fidelity.

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Everything else I was willing to work with and around but fidelity was non-negotiable. He didn’t agree. His list left me in shock. Not just for how shallow it was, but because it gave me complete clarity for the first time that this man really had no idea about what the reasons for our bad marriage and unhappiness were. He was living in his own world.

 

That was the day I decided to pull the plug. Somehow all the crying in the shower, suicidal thoughts, fights, and affairs – none of them had had that impact on me. Seeing it on paper just finally cut through the haze and allowed me to decide that time was up. This was not what I wanted for my son or myself.

Over an ISD called I told the ex that it was over for me. He insisted we try to work it out but I knew it wasn’t going to work. He was in Canada for another two months. He said we’d talk when he comes back. Those next two months were the strangest in my life. While I felt a weight had lifted off my shoulders and I started feeling healthier and happier, I was also overcome by anger and grief. Why was this happening to me? I’d never wanted anything more than a happy family life, and now, just like that, it was over for me.

Then he came back. And he was the man I had fallen in love with. He was cooking for me, complimenting me, trying to seduce me. It was hard not to fall back into that. In fact, I did fall back. We were staying in separate rooms of the same house and I wondered if we might still be able to make it work. I decided to talk to him, and in that discussion I remembered why I had decided to leave him. He was the same, the changes had just been cosmetic because he was too scared to leave the marriage. But I was ready. I was terrified and I had no idea how hard the road ahead was going to be, but I knew I didn’t want him in my life anymore. I didn’t want the self-doubt or the unhappiness he brought into my life anymore.

 I had let him destroy my self-esteem, my career, my friendships and my dreams. Now, I was ready to start rebuilding it all, bit by bit. In that year I had gone from hopelessness to depression to anger to grief. I knew it wasn’t over, that in the following months I would experience most of these emotions again, but I did have a better future at the end of that than I would have had in my marriage. No matter how scary it was, I knew I had more chances of happiness outside of my marriage than I had in it. That was the day, I knew without a shred of doubt that my marriage was over, I may grieve over it but I was never going back to it. 

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Tags: #MarriageIsNotTheEnd #Marriage #Love