Have You Outgrown Your Marriage?
In their song from the 90’s, Robin and Linda Williams describe the feelings of a woman who’s decided to leave her marriage:
“But it comes down to true or false / And I’m right to write you off.”
Like the woman in the song, Colleen (not her real name) came to feel that how she and her husband, Brad, related to each other in their marriage had developed a sense of falseness. She felt that she was no longer able to be true to herself in the relationship, that she was playing a role with a set of rules that were dictated by Brad. She had tried many times to talk to Brad about her “claustrophobia” within their relationship, but he insisted that the marriage was “fine” and that he was not open to the idea of going to see a marriage counselor with her.
When another client reflected on his marriage, he realized that at one time he and his wife had shared very compatible ideals, goals and interests. They were both adventuresome, curious about exploring everything from new cuisines to new music and thrived on expanding their circle of friends. However, gradually, over the years, he felt that his wife had gotten more cautious and more conservative, narrowing her world with each passing year. He felt that their lives were increasingly divergent rather than fitting together comfortably as they once had.
In the early years of marriage, Mary and Charlie had established a relationship in which Charlie called the shots and Mary adapted to his wishes. Mary didn’t mind initially – it felt normal to her, probably because her parents had had a very similar relationship. However, in her professional life, Mary had been promoted year after year until she was in the top management tier of her company. Her sense of self shifted dramatically, and she no longer felt comfortable being controlled by her husband in so very many ways.
If you have come to feel similarly, that you may have outgrown your marriage, it is important to try to identify and assess your thoughts and feelings in a coherent way. A neutral sounding board, such as a therapist or objective friend, can help you make sense or find a pattern in how your feelings about your marriage have changed over time and what that means for the future. Of course, there are many different forces operating in a person’s life at any given time, so it is important to clarify for yourself whether your dissatisfaction is about your marriage, or possibly about something else.
Then, if you reach a clear conclusion that your misgivings really are about your marriage, go to the best family law attorney you can find in order to develop an exit strategy that is consistent with your values and goals. For example, if you have children, you will want to protect them from marital conflict as much as possible and implement a settlement strategy that makes their best interests a priority. You will also be well served if you can keep things civil, looking to the future rather than focusing on fault and blame.
Just because your marriage was a good fit in its early years doesn’t mean that it will continue to fit you over time. You should also be open to the possibility that your spouse may not be comfortable with a relationship that no longer fits either. An expert can help you move on to a better future.