I was done. Finito. Tapped out. I felt like a single parent. When my husband wasn’t traveling for work, he was at work. I was already raising the kids and doing life by myself. I felt like he was only a paycheck. It wouldn’t make much difference if he physically brought it home or sent it in the mail.
I complained to a girlfriend. She asked me a question which not only shocked me and made me mad, but also put my perspective of my marriage in check.
Instead of asking yourself if you should get a divorce, ask yourself if you’re putting everything you can into your marriage.
Say what? I did everything from housekeeping to fulfilling my husband’s sexual needs. And I’d had enough. I didn’t realize my attitude had shifted from one of unconditional love to one of performance and expectations. My girlfriend told me to put the brakes on and challenged me to ask myself some hard questions before scampering into the long line of failed marriage statistics.
Maybe you’re in a hard place in your marriage. Maybe you’re tired of waking up and going to bed alone. Maybe your husband’s job feels more like a mistress than the source for your family’s livelihood. One hundred percent of marriages hit hard spots. And half of them end in divorce. Marriage is tough. What should you do when your happily-ever-after starts to crumble, and you want to look for a way out?
Ask yourself hard questions. Asking hard questions takes your focus off the problems and puts it on solutions. When your marriage feels like a mess, it’s easy and even natural to want to place blame. But the only behavior you can control is your own. Are you giving your marriage 100 percent? Lots of people go into marriage with a 50/50 attitude. I went into marriage with that attitude myself. I felt like I was giving more like 96.8 percent, and he was only giving 3.2.
Fifty/fifty sounds like a great model. It never works. The 50/50 attitude focuses on receiving. What is he doing for me? When my mindset changed from 50/50 to 100/100, my focus shifted from receiving to giving. Changing my attitude from performanced-based to unconditional love, changed my perspective.
Are you looking at love as a feeling or a decision? Contrary to popular belief, love isn’t a feeling. If you’re relying on feelings, you’re going to stay disappointed. Marriage requires work and a mindset. Love is a decision. I have to choose to love regardless of how I feel.
If times are hard in your marriage, consider these questions before deciding on divorce:
1. Have I done everything in my power to improve my marriage?
2. Am I letting past emotional baggage affect our relationship?
3. Am I comparing my husband to my friend’s husband?
4. How will divorce affect my kids?
5. Do I consider love a feeling or a decision?
6. Am I more concerned with being right or do I want a resolution?
7. Am I keeping score?
8. Is divorce really the best option?
That hasn’t been the only rough spot in my marriage. Marriage isn’t about what he can do for me. It’s about giving it all I’ve got and letting God take care of the rest. When things get tough, I have to remember to ask myself the hard questions before thinking about throwing in the towel.
Sheila Qualls is passionate about encouraging wives through a window of humor and transparency, one awkward moment at a time. She's a former journalist and editor for the U.S. Army's award-winning newspaper, The Cannoneer. She's now a stay-at-home mom, speaker and writer. She's been married to her highschool sweetheart for over 30 years. She writes and speaks about the affects of kids, homeschooling, corporate relocations, emotional baggage and a series of other unfortunate events on her 30-year marriage. You can follow her on Facebook at Better Together-Making Marriage Last where she supplies practical tools and Christian resources to equip women to live and love better. You can also find her work on her blog at http://www.sheilaqualls.com as well as the MOPS Blog, Scary Mommy, and Grown and Flown.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock