I’ve seen a number of marriages end because the unhappy spouse was unwilling to speak up soon enough. Here’s the way it unfolds:
- An individual is not happy with their marriage, and with one thing or a few things in particular.
- S/he makes some effort to communicate about the issue. However, the effort does not convince their spouse the situation is important.
- The spouse may or may not make some halfway efforts, but no real change occurs.
- The dissatisfied spouse continues to make noise about the issue from time to time.
- The offending spouse learns the complaints always go away, even if they do nothing. So, they do less and less.
- The dissatisfied spouse gives up and tries to live with things are they are.
- Frustration builds in the dissatisfied spouse.
- The dissatisfied spouse reached his or her limit and ends the marriage. The other spouse is shocked, because they didn’t see it coming and probably had not heard a complaint in years.
Sometimes the final step is brought about by the dissatisfied spouse finding someone who makes them feel something they haven’t felt in years. While it looks like they left their spouse for someone else, the reality is less simple. For years their pain was pushing them out of their marriage, so it didn’t take much of an outside pull to get them to make the break. The “other person” is the straw that breaks the marriage, not the real cause.
The only way to prevent this marriage killer is to deal with the problems before the dissatisfied spouse gives up (# 6 above). Once the dissatisfied spouse gives up, saving the marriage is unlikely. It can take years or decades to go from step 6 to step 8, but going back is exceptionally rare.
I beg you to consider if this might be happening in your marriage. If it is, please do something to prevent a divorce, and do it right now!
If You’re the Dissatisfied Spouse:
Be honest with yourself; will you put up with things as they are for another year? What about five years? How about twenty? Please, please, please, keep talking about it. Make as much noise as necessary to get him to listen to you before you give up. If he doesn’t hear you, lay it out for him very simply: tell him the situation is destroying you, and if it doesn’t change your love for him will die, and once that happens the marriage is over and divorce is just a matter of time. Please know I’m not telling you to threaten divorce! I am telling you to warn him what will happen if he is unwilling to work with you.
I’ve seen folks married twenty and thirty years get divorced because of this. I’ve seen it in people who said they would never use the word divorce. Eventually the pain becomes too great and they give in – even if they have always said divorce is never right. Yes, there are some who hold on, being miserable until they or their spouse die, but this is less and less common. Even when the dissatisfies person doesn’t leave, they’re not living what God intends us to have. A horrible marriage hurts the marriages of others, and serves as an example for those who choose not to marry.
If You’re not Dissatisfied:
Ask yourself if your husband might be dissatisfied. Think back, did he used to complain about something? Did he stop even though it never changed? If so, he may be at step 5. Leave it alone, and he will eventually move on to step 6, and then your chance of fixing it may be gone. If he’s stopped mentioning whatever, the ball is in your court. Keep ignoring it, and it could be game over.
Sex is a common problem area for men, and I’ve talked to a number of men who are at #5 or greater on the steps above because of sexual issues. If he used to ask for sex often but has stopped, it probably isn’t because his drive has gone away. I’ve seen men put up with this for many years, then just walk away when they can take it no more. I’m not saying they are justified, but they no longer care if it’s right, they just do it.
~ Paul – I’m XY, and I’m sick and tired of all the divorces!
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