I used to be a master of distraction (weight loss was my favourite diversion) so it took me a long to realise my marriage had disintegrated while I hadn’t been paying attention. I remember sitting in front of the computer late one night Googling “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”
I wanted a check list, or a quiz or even a free psychic reading to tell me what to do.
When I finally made a decision and mustered up the courage to tell my husband I was leaving him, I still wasn’t certain I was making the right choice. It wasn’t until that first night sleeping alone in my flat that I knew for sure I’d done the right thing. I felt as though I had been holding my breath for years and I had finally exhaled.
For Better or For Worse
I was brought up an evangelical christian and although I had long since given up going to church, deep inside me I still carried the imprints of religious indoctrination. My vows remained sacred and not negotiable. For better or for worse is what I had promised.
I struggled to justify the urge to leave my husband because the ‘worse’ part wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t as though he hit me, or controlled me, or expected anything from me. He was simply indifferent. And while I was in the middle of his indifference, it didn’t seem like reason enough to leave. He did occasionally get angry of course, but most of the time it was my fault — well at least that’s what I thought.
In hindsight I can see how dysfunctional and destructive our relationship was, but in the centre of the mayhem I had no idea. I assumed it was the kind of stuff every relationship went through.
So from off in the future I’m writing the post that I wish I had found that night I sat in the darkness and Googled “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”
1. Are there many more bad times than there are good times?
2. Do you cry in the shower or other places where you won’t get discovered?
3. Do you feel nauseous, or vaguely sick most of the time?
4. Has it been more than six months since s/he has said I love you?
5. Do you eat too much or not enough?
6. Do you stay late at work to avoid going home? Do you have a hobby that keeps you out of the house most of the time?
7. Is your sex life infrequent or unsatisfying?
8. Has s/he laughed at or dismissed your suggestion that you might need couple counselling?
9. Do you share your secrets with someone outside the relationship?
10. Have you forgotten how to laugh?
11. Are you worried that when you go out in public with your partner that s/he will do something to embarrass you?
12. Do you drink or take drugs alone?
13. Do you want the next ten years of your life to look nothing like the last ten years?
14. Do you keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself so as not to cause trouble?
15. Would you be concerned if your daughter or son was seeing someone similar to your partner?
16. Are you in tears answering these questions?
If you answered yes to some, most or all of these questions then it’s probably time to go.
It’s risky and frightening to contemplate leaving your marriage, but in my experience it is better to be single and happy, than to be bled dry in a broken relationship.
You are brave and good — you can do this.
Have you left a relationship that wasn’t that bad? Do you have any advice for someone who isn’t sure?
★ Ready to leave but not sure what to do next? Click here for how to navigate ending your relationship.