Divorce your spouse today!

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?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. A request for me to defend some of my comments does not obligate me to do so.

  • Teresa Grace

    David,

    Great article and I have to say that this mind set is not just for marriages. For me it pertains to other family members, children included, friends and even acquaintances. It is easy to get sucked up into the situation and make it part of your minute, hour or day.

    Thank you for the reminder!

    Teresa

    • Great observation, Teresa. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Tim

    Great insight as always!

  • Does this include the lost cell phone?

    It would be a great relief to let that one go. In fact there are a few lost items in our home, keys included, that eventually do get found.

    My question is; how do you divorce yourself from your spouses issues, letting them know that their problems are their own, without coming off looking like an a-s-s or the guy who doesn’t care?

    • Well, you kind of do it on your own. In other words, you don’t announce this to them or even let them know it’s something you’re working on. The point is that it happens in you. It’s work you need to do. After all, if you’re taking too much responsibility for your spouse’s problems, that’s not your spouse’s problem! So this is internal work, and it has a lot to do with an entire approach to life. Your spouse will go on being however she is, and you will work on recognizing your own emotional reaction in the moment and see how her stuff is activating stuff in you. You will ask yourself why her stuff is activating your stuff. Whatever the answer to that question is is where you have to begin working. For example, “When she does [x,y,z] it reminds me of when I was a kid and my dad/mom/teacher would do [x,y,z] and I always felt [x,y,z].” That will help you see why and how her stuff is activating your stuff, and the more you work on your own stuff, the less her stuff will activate and effect you. That’s how you get yourself out of the way and allow her stuff to simply be her stuff. It happens as you take full responsibility for your own stuff.

  • Jeff Vannest

    Excellent advice, Dave, good blog

  • Janinne

    To answer the questions you asked –
    1. Part of me must think I am the most important thing around. I say that because if I think I caused the problem then I can control it and also that I’m more important here than I really am. Maybe a better way to answer is to say taht I would have to deal with too much pride in me.
    2. If I didn’t cause the problem then I don’t HAVE to fix it. Also it means I don’t have to take personally those things he does that make me feel bad about myself. that means that his bad mood or constant correcting is not my fault! Yay!
    3. If I ccna understnad that his bad mood or consatnt correcting have root somewhere else, I won’t be so quick ot be angry or hurt. Meaning that I have time to think of him instead of how his behavior affects me. Again YAY!

    • Part of ALL of us thinks we’re the most important thing around! Yes, when you can let go of things for which you are not responsible, you will set Brad free to see his part with greater clarity. And when Brad stops owning your stuff, you too will be set free to own your proper portion. And yes, it’s all about control and power!