My first marriage was to someone who turned very quickly from composed, passionate, and loving into someone else. Helplessly, I watched as she struggled with countless and difficult challenges. She always perceived herself as a victim, suffered from low self-esteem, was absolutely terrified of abandonment, lived in constant chaos, and more.
How did I fall in love with and marry her? Aside from her two adorable kids, she had another complicating trait— she is a chameleon, always being who you want her to be. She became the woman I wanted to marry…only, beneath it all, she wasn’t really that someone.
It took me a while to figure out what was going on. But, at the same time, I came to love her two children; I became a father figure to them, which was something that I craved, and I thrived in that role.
Despite these reasons, it still took me three years to escape what my marriage had become. And looking back, I’ve started to ask myself why. There were several things that made it easier to stay than go, including: Inertia, the desire to not end up with a failed marriage like my own parents did, and an innate stubborn streak that I still have. Lastly, there were the eventually dashed hopes that things would get better; at the lowest points, we’d talk of counseling, both for our marriage and for ourselves individually, to try and make things work. She would always find a reason not to go or to punt therapy further down the road.
Every day I’d awake, not knowing which person I’d end up with today. Would she begin an argument that would lead to yelling and throwing things when I would not accept her point of view? Would she be reckless with our money again, leaving me to scramble to find some quick cash to cover it? Would she try to turn the children who, at the end, were my sole reason for staying, against me this time?
The final straw
That was actually the event that finally got me unstuck. One night, as she began to ramp up for another argument, the oldest of her children awoke from a deep sleep to watch a little of what was going on, and the child immediately took her side, repeating the things she was saying to me and agreeing with her, even pointing at me accusingly.
I realized it was time to take action and so I moved quickly, relying on the support of friends and family to help me stay strong and recognize I was doing the right thing by getting out. I found my own place—a farmhouse in the woods that felt like paradise. Even the act of driving out there was a weight off my shoulders as I began, piece by piece, to rebuild my life.
It took about another year for me to complete divorce proceedings. I began dating again. I found a way to become me once more, and it felt wonderful.
If you’re stuck in a similar situation, learn from my mistakes:
- Don’t wait for your partner to finally go to counseling; go yourself, talk to an impartial person about what you’re going through, and get perspective as well as advice on how to cope. These are vital when you’re in this kind of situation.
- Don’t expect that staying will help the kids, if you have any. It very likely won’t. At worst, it sets a horrible model for their future relationships.
- Don’t be afraid to throw a lifeline to friends and family that you can trust; they might be able to offer help, be it financial, a place to sleep, or even just an ear to listen. That made all the difference for me.
You can get there. I did, and it was absolutely the right thing for me.
Brandon Weber is a writer, author, and expert at growing Facebook pages. His page can be found here.
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