Relationships, like untested dinner recipes, vacations abroad, and Noir Films, don’t always work out the way we expected them to. Sometimes people reach a point where they no longer view their spouse in a loving way. Sometimes they decide that the relationship is beyond any hope of salvation and, in the interest of self-preservation, must be abandoned. Sometimes, however, it’s only one partner who reaches this decision.
So what do you do when your partner has decided that it’s over, but you still want to work on the marriage? Well, the reality is that a relationship requires two people, and you cannot choose for both of you. When your spouse decides that they want a divorce, regardless of how you feel about it, you can’t force them to align their beliefs with yours. So what do you do? Believe it or not, how you behave during this time becomes very important.
If you want to save your marriage and your spouse doesn’t, you should discuss with them how you feel in a calm and rational way. Tell them that you still love them and would be willing to work to save the relationship. Offer alternatives, like counseling or therapy, and ask them what they think might help. Sometimes a conversation without finger-pointing, shouting or crying can open up avenues of discussion that you hadn’t considered.
But more often than not, once a person has decided that it’s over, they no longer view the marriage as savable. So if your partner has drawn the metaphorical line in the sand, you’ll have to respect it. No one is telling you to like it, or agree with it. But the truth is that no matter what your opinion is, if your spouse is walking away, you can’t force them to stay.
It happens all the time. One partner chooses to leave the marriage, and the other suddenly feels tasked with the responsibility of convincing them to stay. Pleading, begging, arguing, demanding, apologizing, and manipulating are all common methods employed by desperate people in floundering marriages. However, in most cases, the more you cling to them, the further you drive them away.
When one person decides they’re done, it’s hard to change their mind.
Writing endless emails and texts professing your undying love rarely changes someone’s mind. Offering things like greater freedom or overnight personal change in order to sustain the marriage, almost certainly fail to stop the unavoidable. In those rare cases where they do seem to work, it’s usually just a delay of the inevitable. Why? Because relationships founded on one person being cornered or ‘bought’ into the partnership usually result in resentment and divorce down the road.
The only realistic method for handling this is to let go. It may cause you immense suffering at first because it feels counter-intuitive to everything you desire, but in reality, it is the only way. Releasing them to go doesn’t mean that you no longer love them or want a relationship with them, it simply means that you love them enough to respect their choices, even if they don’t align with yours.
Freeing someone to make choices of their own is always the right decision, although sometimes it’s the hardest. By trying to force someone to stay in a relationship where they are unhappy will not cause them to love you again. Rather, it will cause them to harbor grudges and dislike you. No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t love them and doesn’t want to be with them. So if they stay because of guilt or obligation, you are not really getting what you want in the long run anyway.
There is an old saying: “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.” Freeing someone to choose for themselves is, believe it or not, a foundational principle in all happy relationships. By releasing your spouse to choose you (or not) is actually an act of love, and while it may not pay off the way you had hoped it would, it is a very valuable lesson that will stand you in good stead in your future.
The family law attorneys at the Kronzek Firm know how difficult this can be, and understand that sometimes you need extra help. Call 517-886-1000 for a free consultation to discuss all of your legal options.