Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Mary and Dan were at an impasse after sixteen years of marriage. Dan was tired of “her bitchin’.” Mary was sick of not being able to trust that she was the only one. “I’m all done. I married the wrong person again.”

Mary had married right out of high school in what was an attempt to leave an abusive childhood home. After finding him in an affair with who she thought was her best friend, she divorced him. Within a year she met an older more mature man and quickly moved in. After five years in a controlling and dangerous marriage, she divorced him.

Mary had sworn off men when she met Dan. She needed a place to stay and they became roommates. In the next year, he asked her to marry him and they began a family.   Over the years, Mary’s heart vacillated between fully loving him and wondering when he would hurt her.

We Carry Our Past Relationships Into Our New Marriage

Mary, like many other people who are in their second or third marriage, struggles with fully trusting. Over the years in our work with messy marriages in our Marriage Intensives and in working with thousands of couples in our Life Together Forever Weekends, we have noticed a pattern with people with those who have married after a broken cohabitation or marriage: it is nearly impossible to fully trust and love deeply again.

Even with a spouse that is everything we had over hoped for, fully giving our heart over to a new relationship is difficult. You want to, but there is a little piece of you that is afraid that your heart will be broken and the marriage will fail like the last one.

Why You Need To Make This Marriage Work

If we are describing you, you are not alone!

  • Cohabitation Rarely Works. Less than 20% of couples who live together get married. Over 80% of cohabitations end in separation. Living with the person you love is the least effective way of making a lifelong love.
  • First Time Marriages Work. Over 70% of spouses in their first marriage make their life together forever.
  • Second Marriages Usually Fail. Less than 50% of spouses in their second marriage stay with their commitment to do life together forever. Most drag unresolved issues into their second marriage, which is commonly complicated by blending families with “his”, “her” and sometimes “our” children.
  • Third Marriages Almost Always Fail. Under 40% of third marriage work through their personal and relationship issues to create a healthy marriage.

Like a piece of tape that looses its stickiness every time you repeat the action of sticking it, tearing it away and re-sticking it, your heart’s ability to fully trust and deeply love is weakened with each serious relationship.

Stay Stuck In A Bad Marriage Or Get Out?

Most spouses want their marriage relationship to work. All relationships are hard. Even healthy marriages go through the roller coaster of ups and downs in their marriages.

When it get’s tough and there is a season that lacks love, joy, peace and connection, most spouses feel stuck. They wonder if this is all that they will ever get out of their marriage. They feel like their spouse is the problem and they wonder if they have married the wrong person.

Most spouses think they have to make a decision between two difficult options:

  1. Stay Stuck In My Bad Marriage. They think they have to tolerate the lack of love, joy, peace and connection. If they stay, they believe they will be lonely and never love again. They wonder if the negative pattern of interacting might be worse than getting out. They wait for their spouse to change, and when their spouse does not, they see it as evidence of their stuck life. They don’t know what to do.
  2. Get Out. They see others in love and want to feel that loving feeling again. They begin to realize that they deserve a happy and loving relationship. They think that getting a divorce is going to be better for their children than staying in a marriage that is always full of arguments and hurt feelings. They fear eternal consequences but decide that God want them to be happy. 

The Third Option

‘Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.’ 2 Corinthians 5:17, 18

  1. Make The Marriage Healthy. When it gets tough, spouses rarely think about doing the things necessary to make their marriage work. Spouses who do, decide they will go get professional help. They make a commitment to clean up things in their head and heart that contributes to the problems in the marriage. They work on making themselves whole as a person. They work on making themselves the best spouse they can be. They go first and do the things it takes to begin to bring healing into their relationship. They stand up for their marriage and set boundaries with their spouse to push them to also begin working on themselves and the marriage.

Make This Marriage Work

In one huge study on marriage, spouses who reported being unhappy in their marriage were surveyed five years later.

  • Unhappy spouses who stayed and worked on their marriage reported they were significantly happier than those who divorced.
  • Unhappy spouses who divorced reported significantly higher levels of depression and unhappiness, whether they had started a new relationship in a cohabitation or new marriage, or whether they had never married again.

Your best chance of having the marriage relationship you have always wanted is with the marriage that you are in now. Unless you are in a dangerous relationship, stop feeling stuck and begin making you and your relationship better. Refuse to contact a divorce industry sales person who will talk you into paying them a lot of money to end your marriage. Stand up and begin making your marriage better.

What do you have to say?

We love to hear from readers.  Have you ever read the statistics in this article before?  What advice do you have for spouses who are trying to choose between leaving or staying?  How important is you to make your marriage work?

This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at © Roy and Devra Wooten 2016. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at [email protected].

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.