This week, here in New Zealand, we’re celebrating a return to Level one. Apart from not leaving the country, life is permitted to return to normal. However, what if you’re now in a place where you don’t want to return to ‘normal’, what if you want to give up your marriage – now what?
Divorce lawyers and counsellors are currently in high demand
It would seem that during lockdown, behind closed doors, not everyone was enjoying life in their family bubble. I can only imagine that if relationships were strained before lockdown then being forced to be in each other’s space 24/7 during lockdown would have exacerbated problems.
Maybe you’re now asking yourself “is this what I want for the rest of my life?” Maybe you’ve had the time to evaluate your relationship and discovered that you don’t want to continue on this same track for the next 10 or 20 years. While these questions can feel scary, they’re also good to address.
Having doubts about your relationship doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a marriage – it can mean the beginning of a new one!
This can be a wake-up call; the opportunity of a lifetime.
Self-awareness is the doorway to change
The first step is taking a good look at who you are becoming, and the things that you can change in yourself. We cannot change our partner but we can change the way that we respond to our partner. Teaching ourselves to respond rather than react can remind us that we do have influence and also give us confidence. That small change alone can set us on a new trajectory.
Changing the way we communicate
Maybe you’ve realised that the way you communicate isn’t healthy and you’ve fallen into bad habits without realising it. John Gottman, founder of the Gottman Marriage Institute has done extensive research with couples, and he’s identified four habits that are destructive to relationships and can pave the way to divorce. They are criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. I remember when I first read this it alarmed me because I did adopt defensiveness sometimes. Periodically slipping into these modes of communication is normal, as we all get frustrated and disappointed with one another. However, if these are our regular communication tools then that’s a sure sign that things need to change. A good place to start is to commit to learning new skills by attending a couples getaway such as a Weekend To Remember or to read a recommended marriage book such as The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work by John Gottman.
Divorce may seem a good solution but it’s rarely the best one.
Getting a new marriage with the same person will most likely be painful but the rewards can be well worth it.
Your marriage does matter – not only to your children but to more people than you may realise.
Other related resources
Before you consider Divorce – Article by Andy Bray
Before the last resort – Book by George Kenworthy