When to Walk Away: 5 Legitimate Reasons for Divorce

when to leaveSo, you know I’m writing this with an attitude, right? I mean, I’m a marriage advocate; I don’t really do the D word. Actually, it’s not even that I don’t “do” it. I just hate how prevalent it is. Seems like everywhere I look, a couple is breaking up. From people I know personally to celebrities on TV, couples are calling it quits in droves. It’s that sad fact that encouraged me to start this site.  I genuinely want to help couples (young couples in particular) fix the fairytaled thinking they’ve developed around the concept of marriage and what it should look like. *Loud sigh* But, certain marriages can’t be fixed. I understand that.  Even though I’m quick to ask a couple to consider giving it another try, I’d be foolish to suggest that all marriages can be saved. Sometimes, the damage is too great and the foundation is too far eroded.

1. Repeated infidelity

I don’t know if there is anything that rips through the foundation of a marriage more viciously than infidelity. It literally melts through trust, respect, and admiration like lava. Still, marriages can recover. When the cheater is able to take responsibility, the injured party is able to forgive on their own terms, and the relationship is able to mend and grow, marriages can survive isolated incidences of infidelity. Some marriages even go through this grueling process twice and still come out intact. When it becomes a habit though, when it’s something that keeps happening, recovery is extremely unlikely.

Like the saying says, you teach people how to treat you. So, whether you realize it or not, sticking around again and again can send the message that you are okay with infidelity. Even the most forgiving person has to reach a point where they decide to change the system, not because they can’t forgive anymore but because they realize the situation no longer benefits them. If you have to spend your days and nights wondering if he’s really where he says he is, what benefit is that to you? If you have to fear for your health because of the diseases or infections he may or may not have communicated to you, what benefit is that to you? If you have issues with being intimate because you can’t clear your mind of images of him with someone else, what benefit is that to you? At some point, you have to step up and out of the dysfunction.

2. Physical abuse

From the outside looking in, its easy to say, “I would never let a man put his hands on me!” but its rarely that simple for the woman experiencing it. Why? Because physical abuse often includes a mental manipulation piece that is often in place long before the first hit. No one just comes in and starts throwing blows. It starts with a slow erosion of the self-image. “This anger I’m displaying is your fault.” That’s what he convinces her to believe. At the same time,  abusers are usually charming, so they temper their insults with cool words and warm touches that make it difficult to up and leave. In the end, the woman’s mind is often spinning in a whirlwind of love, hate, fear, (perceived) need, and doubt. And while she’s busy trying to find her balance, he’s still blaming and still hitting.

Abusive men often have a very fragile sense of self, so attempting to talk sense into him rarely works. More often than not, he’ll take it as an attack and find a way to flip the blame onto you. His need to assert his power through abuse is his own issue. It’s not something you started. It’s not something you can fix. Perhaps when he’s ready, he will get the help he needs to change his ways, but in the meantime, you have to experience something different.

3. Addiction issues (drug and otherwise)

Like abuse, addiction issues are beyond your control. In fact, they’re often beyond the addict’s control, which is why they’re so hard to overcome. Some research suggests an “on/off” switch that gets stuck in the “on” position, preventing addicts from stopping. Other explanations describe addiction as a coping mechanism for deep-seated unresolved trauma, often stemming from childhood. Regardless of if your spouses’ addiction rests in the mind or the heart, recovery cannot happen until they make the decision to seek it out. As much as you may try, you can’t love someone into remission.

4. Narcissism

Babies are in a serious state of narcissism. They  think  know the world revolves around them and that anything that doesn’t involve getting their needs met is immaterial. Needless to say, interacting with them can be a trial, but parents deal with it because they know it’s a necessary and temporary stage the child will soon grow out of (and because they’re cute and have magical powers over parents).  Adults, though, don’t have those powers, so people aren’t as willing to jump at their every beck and call.

If your spouse is incapable of considering the other, there is no way for a healthy relationship to exist. If the two of you aren’t able to step outside of yourselves and take on a different perspective, there is no room for the give and take that must occur. By now, you’ve probably realized you are not always right, but you’re not always wrong either. If your spouse never takes ownership and only assigns blame, how will anything be truthfully resolved? How will you both grow into stronger, wiser mates for each other if the good and bad have been preassigned?

Being married to a narcissist can be exhausting because you’re constantly battling for recognition and understanding. You’re constantly trying to prove that you’re not as bad as the person makes you out to be. The only problem is that, in their eyes, you’ll never prove that. Of course you’re wrong. Of course it’s your fault. Is there any other explanation?

5. Intentional disrespect/harshness

We’ve all been harsh at one point or another, but its usually an unchecked emotional reaction, not an intentional attack. If your spouse does mean, hurtful things on purpose, that’s a sign he doesn’t respect you or your feelings. It’s a way of saying, “I don’t want you to be happy. In fact, it makes me happy to see you unhappy.” That’s a type of sickness you don’t anywhere near you. Run away. Run far, far away.

Kindness and respect are absolutely necessary in all relationships (romantic and otherwise). They are the safety nets that keep us from descending into our lower desires for childishness and spite.  Without them, the love leaves.

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