WARNING: CONTENTS HAZARDOUS! READ CAREFULLY!
If your marriage is in bad shape, I want to encourage you to divorce your spouse. Immediately. Don’t wait until you get home. Just divorce. It’s too hard carrying around the frustration and resentment you feel. It’s too exhausting dealing with your spouse’s insecurities and worries. It’s too constraining having someone else’s problems to carry around. So do the divorce thing. Just do it.
But whatever you do, do not leave your marriage (unless you are being physically abused, constantly deceived, or cheated on). Divorce your spouse, but do not leave your marriage. You might wonder how this is possible. Think of it this way. If you filed for divorce from your spouse, what you would be doing, in effect, is giving them back all their fears, all their insecurities, all of their anger. You would no longer carry their burdens as your own. Healthy couples support each other without taking all of the other’s burdens on themselves. Even (and especially) in a union as close as a marriage, you must have a clear idea where you end and someone else begins.
When your spouse is angry, you may have done something connected to it, but your spouse is responsible for his/her own anger. You do not have to carry that. Address your part in it and move on. When your spouse is irritable and it seems you can’t do anything right, most of that is their stuff, not yours. (Surely you’re not substantially more annoying today than you were yesterday, when your spouse was fine!) When your spouse is disappointed in you, you should probably listen carefully to see what you can learn. But your spouse’s disappointment belongs to him/her. You cannot, and should not, carry it.
So divorce is in order. Not the kind where you file in court and leave your spouse, but divorcing yourself from issues going on with your spouse that you cannot fix, should not carry for them, and are probably just making worse by taking them on as your own problem. It is not more court divorces we need, it is more individuals divorcing themselves from their spouse’s emotional wreckage. We need more individuals declaring that though they love their spouse and want to be available to help where they can, they will not pander to their spouse’s emotional issues by walking on eggshells, keeping secrets, engaging in hurtful dialog, rushing constantly to their defense when they act inappropriately, or whatever else you may be doing that shows you are too enmeshed in problems that are not yours. Learn to divorce yourself from that stuff and as you do that, you will find yourself increasingly able to support your spouse in truly loving ways — not just needing them to change so that you can be more comfortable.
Let’s face it. Divorce is always difficult. And it’s much harder to give your spouse’s emotional issues back to him/her while remaining inside of the marriage than to just pack up and leave. But if you left, you’d be giving all those issues back anyway. Why not do it and remain married to the person you’ve invested so many years with, the person you probably love? Why not become a healthier person and set an example for how your spouse can do the same?
Question: What would it mean for you to divorce yourself from your spouse’s emotional issues? How would that affect your life in a positive way? How would it be better for your spouse?