Dumping a bad marriage is a lot like losing weight. You know what youíre supposed to do to become healthier and happier, but itís hard to do. It isnít a matter of ignorance. A woman in a bad marriage usually knows she is in a bad situation and should leave much as an overweight woman knows she should exercise and choose healthful foods instead of collapsing on the couch with a bowl of fat and sugar. But why do we continually make unhealthy choices when we know better? Because, for the most part, we are emotionally-driven creatures.
First, we need to define ďa bad marriageĒ because that is a subjective term. Marriages are varied but I think itís safe to say that an undisputed ďbadĒ marriage is one where there is deep and permanent lack of love or respect and/or harm. It isnít a matter of incompatibility. Itís a relationship where one spouse does not care about his mateís emotional, physical or mental well-being. There could be contempt, misery, mutual degradation and/or physical or emotional abuse. A bad marriage is one where there is no hope for change because the partners involved refuse to change their damaging beliefs and behaviors.
If the situation is so bad, why canít women leave? Motivational speaker Anthony Robbins explains some of this in ďPersonal PowerĒ program. The human brain is wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Even though a woman may not be happy in a bad marriage, she stays in the relationship in order to avoid what she perceives will be even more pain: living on her own, financial struggles, religious repercussions, persecution from an abuser and fear of the unknown.
To help illustrate: An overweight person will attempt to diet and exercise but until the pain of being overweight overrides the pleasure of indulging in unhealthy foods, she will be unsuccessful in adopting a new lifestyle. When I worked for a leading weight loss organization, I interviewed many people who attempted to lose weight for years. Those who finally grew serious about their weight management were the ones who experienced some type of emotional turning point. Something happened that made being overweight unacceptable.
Itís the same with a bad marriage. When the pain of staying gets worse than the reality of leaving, an unhappy wife will stay put. An abused wife, for example, stays until her abuser begins to hurt her child. Or until a gambling addicted spouse finally loses the house. Or when the hurt and loneliness begins to wear down to the bone and a wife needs to do something, anything, before suicide sounds like a better option.
If you feel you are in a bad marriage, itís time to strengthen yourself. The first step is to empower yourself through education. Know what resources are available to you. Housing, schooling, job placement (see links below). Then, start working on self development. Youíre in this situation because you no doubt lack sufficient self-esteem. Check out the Bellaonline.comís Self development site. Editor Sharon Michaels offers great articles on building your self worth that is essential to living a quality life with or without a man.
If you are in an abusive marriage, I encourage you to visit Bellaonline.comís Domestic Violence site where editor Jeanette Stingley provides endless resources and information that can educate and empower you. Then, pop into Bellaonline.comís Divorce site edited by Stephanie Watson. There is life after divorce. Author Jessica Bram has written about her personal experiences that might help you take courage if you decide to seek divorce (ďHappily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey.Ē) She sent a copy for me to review but although the book is not appropriate for my marriage site, it definitely has merit for anyone who is afraid to leave a bad marriage.
There is little reason to suffer a bad marriage today. If youíve given your marriage honest effort and still your relationship with your spouse is reduced to hopeless misery and emotional or physical deterioration, consider salvaging your sanity and safety. Keep in touch.