An Open Letter to My Friend Considering Divorce… (Part 2)

I know you are worried, and I know you are scared. When we met the other day, you told me you were considering divorce - you and your spouse have fallen out of love. Yesterday, I wrote part 1 of an open letter describing my own experience of divorce and shared some insight I thought might help you. Today, I promised a deeper look at some of the specifics that often contribute to the end of partnership. I hope it helps. 

Let’s talk for a minute about the erosion of trust and respect. Unfortunately, we do this to each other in many ways, but there are three ways that are essentially unrecoverable: Abuse, neglect and living in active addiction. If any (or all) of these things are happening right now in your marriage, it will essentially take an act of God (which can happen) to turn things around.

Abuse
Abuse comes in several forms; the big three being physical, emotional, and financial. Physical abuse is easier to recognize, but many who experience emotional and financial abuse are not aware it is happening. People who are living in abusive situations tend to minimize their experiences and feelings.  Let’s be very clear here, abuse is about manipulation and control and it has nothing to do with love. A loving partner is not abusive. Period.

If your partner is hitting, pushing or otherwise engaging you in physical altercations– you are experiencing physical abuse. Get out.

If you find yourself thinking, ‘at least my partner doesn’t hit me.’ there is strong chance you are experiencing emotional abuse.

If your partner is using ‘leverage’ to make you stay (e.g. threatening to take the children away, poisoning the children against you, verbally denouncing you, etc.) you are experiencing emotional abuse.

If your partner constantly says things to belittle and undermine you, you are experiencing emotional abuse.

If your partner is hiding money from you, not allowing you access to money, or you have no idea where any of your money is (despite asking for this information) you are experiencing financial abuse.

My friend, I have no idea what goes on within your four walls. But if you are experiencing abuse at the hand of your spouse, I encourage you to make changes to protect yourself and your children quickly and swiftly. Physical abuse will harm your body; emotional and financial abuse kills your mind and soul. Either way, abuse is intended to keep you from being fully you – this is not ok.

If you need to learn more or need help getting out of an abusive situation, please call: 1-800-799-7233 or go to: http://www.thehotline.org/

Neglect
It is reasonable for you and your partner to have expectations of physical, emotional, oftentimes financial care. Good communication is the key to helping keep these needs understood and hopefully met.

If your reasonable needs and desires are being consistently minimized and ignored, then you are probably experiencing neglect. The truth is that some people just do not understand relationship – and don’t want to make the changes necessary to do so. The problem with neglect is that once it goes on long enough, you begin to die a little inside. It begins to erode at your soul. As human beings, we were made for connection – both emotional and physical.

If these needs are being constantly neglected by our partners, without any attempt to change, it shows an apathy and a one-sidedness to the relationship. It can feel like you’re constantly banging your head against a wall. Here’s a fact, you can’t make anyone do anything or feel a certain way about something.  Nothing changes if nothing changes. Again, there is nothing quite as lonely as a lonely marriage.

Active addiction
Loving someone who is engaged in active addiction is a tough road. You can never be first in their life because the next hit, the next drink, the next escape is the only thing they’re after. Addicts will do and say anything that needs to be done or said to get the next release from pain. Addicts are great liars and quite convincing. But they don’t change – not without following a good recovery program. The good news is if a good recovery program is followed, the addict can quite literally become the best version of themselves they can be – which is great news if you can hang in there – know if you’re married to an active addict, you will never come first while the addiction is in full swing. What comes first will always be the fix.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
My friend, this consideration you’re making is a tough one. I have faith that you will make the right choice for you.  Know I am for you – there is someone in your corner.
Let’s make it great.