How does a Happy Marriage turn into Separation and Divorce?
Marriage is an institution of society with different purpose, functions, and forms. Being a divorce coach, I am always questioning how a person who at one time could not wait to marry and spend their life with someone, could go from that much love and desire to be together, to wanting to end it altogether.
It is my hope that you’ll find it helpful to understand what has happened to your marriage, and where your relationship might be heading in the months to come.
Stage One: - The Healthy Relationship
I believe too many relationships don’t start off this way, at least from my point-of-view. However, I am talking here about relationships that started out where both partners really wanted to be married to each other, and they both were in love and sincerely planning to spend the rest of their lives together with hopefulness for a great future. At this stage, both partners are solidly in the marriage and focused on each other.
At least one partner starts to realize that they are unhappy, especially after the first child and their changing roles from a couple to parents. one of them will start to address that there is something wrong in the relationship. I often describe it as an “uh-oh” moment, such as, “Uh oh, I think I’m unhappy in this relationship. You start saying to yourself, I know relationships have problems and ups and downs, so I’m just going to let some time pass and see if my concerns last and if this is serious.” The disillusioned partner tells no one what they’re thinking … it’s all a secret.
As disillusionment continues, it slips further down the deterioration process as the unhappy partner decides that their problems are persistent and serious, and could possibly lead to divorce, though the idea of divorce is quickly dismissed due to a multitude of reasons, such as children; religious, social, moral beliefs, finances, fear of failure or disappointment; and many more considerations.
One person (but it could be both people) stands back and watches what is going on in the relationship to see if their concern and unhappiness continues, and when they realize that it is, they back away from their partner ever so slightly.
Stage Three: - Detachment
Unhappiness increases, and since the unhappy person has already told his/herself that divorce is not an option, they must find ways to cope. So they search for distractions and interests that they can pursue away from the marriage, such as going back to school, pursuing a new hobby, an affair, working out, or … it could be anything. It is as if the person says to themselves,” OK, I am really unhappy, but I can deal with it if I have some place else to direct my attention.” So they pull away from the marriage and start doing whatever they can, so long as it does not include their spouse.
Sometime during the detachment stage, the unhappy partner’s unhappiness increases to the point of being unbearable. Just being detached with outside distractions no longer does the trick. So in the final part of this stage, the unhappy partner turns all the way around and pulls away from their partner. Many times, they reveal the sad truth: They are unhappy in the relationship and not sure they want to remain married. The true Marriage Emergency begins.
Stage Four: - Rejectee Panics.
You are finally told the truth about why your partner has been pulling away …they are unhappy to the point that they are not sure they want to remain married to you anymore … what would anyone do? Panic!
Your brain can’t help but go into an adrenaline-rush producing fight or flight mode, and the path you are going to take fights. That is what all partners do who want to save their marriage at all cost … they wake up and start to do all they can to work on and save the marriage. “So now you’re doing all of the things I’ve been asking you to do all of these years!” your partner exclaims. “Well, guess what? All I want right now is for you to leave me alone!”
What you are experiencing is called “Attachment Panic,” because the person you are attached to is pulling away from you and is at high risk for leaving for good.
You must give your partner the breathing room and space they are asking for at this time, and spend that same energy working on yourself if you want to have a chance at winning your partner back! At this stage, I highly recommend divorce coaching.
Stage Five: - Decider Flees.
The rejected spouse has continued to pursue their unhappy partner, and this has led to an overwhelming need to get away from the partner and the marriage. Many times the unhappy spouse decides to end the marriage at this point, or to at least separate.
It likely will take some time at this point for the rejected spouse to finally give up hope that they can win their partner back. The absolutely best and healthiest thing for the rejected partner to do at this time is to focus on their mind, body, spirit health. Coaching, self-reflection, and processing yourself and the failed relationship with a trusted source is a key to maintaining your equilibrium and coming out of these sad days on your feet and moving in an upward and forward direction.
Stage Six: - Rejectee Gives Up.
It’s hard to imagine when you are the rejected partner in a marriage crisis that a day will come when you will finally give up hope that your spouse will ever return to the relationship, but it will. We can’t say how long it will take, or when the moment will arrive, but eventually, you will stop thinking about it constantly, and the obsession with the subject will go away. You may even have found a certain level of disgust for your spouse’s self-centered and hurtful, rejecting, behavior. Your life will eventually come together in a different way, and you find some level of contentment and peace, while perhaps on your way to a higher level of happiness than you’ve ever known. Perhaps now you even think you are “over” your former marriage partner, and you are even able to see them more realistically, with their many flaws and negative issues.
Stage Seven:- Decider Returns
It doesn’t happen in every case, but it does happen. But it almost never happens unless the rejected partner has given up and has started moving on in their new life in an improved, upwards and forward fashion. Yes, some people who go through the agonizing stages of leaving their marriage find, in time, they have regrets. When they look back at the spouse they left and see all the damage that has been done, the hurt that has been caused, and that a person they had thought could never change has changed, and has managed to survive well and made something of their life, they experience a softened heart. In all of the years I have ever worked with divorcees, when the decider did return, the rejected spouse ended up rejecting the person who initially rejected them. Too much damage done, too much trust lost, and too much work to be done to ever have a hope that it could work. But sometimes couples do reconcile.