Do I have to Stay Married?


For years, I struggled in a painful marriage.  We bickered constantly. I exploded with rage regularly. I felt unloved, unappreciated, unhappy. I was one of those people who was trying to keep it together while I was dying on the inside. It wasn’t enough that we had a great business, 2 beautiful children and a great lifestyle. I wanted love. Who’s kidding who? I wasn’t keeping it together. I was feeling crazy. Acting crazy. Going towards crazy.

Once every few months, I would sit across from my wise and spiritual counselor and ask the question that haunted me constantly.

Do I have to stay married?

Yes, she told me. You might as well. Stay married and continue to learn. If you leave, you will just go out and re-create the same dynamics again. You can leave the relationship, but you can’t leave yourself.

I accepted that. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to take this version of me out into the world. I started wanting transformation.

I did workshops, therapy, meditation, I got my archetypes, my Astrological chart, my Tarot, I worked on my relationship to my family of origin, I chanted to any God or Goddess I could imagine, I looked within, I communed with nature, I visited with Shamans and Priestesses…. I even listened to Dr Laura. You get the picture. I was desperate to figure it out.

Each time I visited my spiritual teacher, I asked the same question.

Do I have to stay married?

Each time she gave the same answer. You haven’t evolved past this relationship. Stay.

In a final effort to bring my husband on board with my reality, I hired a marriage counselor. She told me I needed to take care of myself. After all I had learned, why was this such a revolutionary concept? I began to care a little about my feelings and needs. It was hard. But things started to shift. I became a little less reactive. I began to be able choose my thoughts and actions sometimes. I started to take a bit of time and space for myself.

I went back to my teacher, and I asked the question again.

Do I have to stay married? 

By this time, I imagined that I was meant to stay married and miserable for the rest of my life. I thought it was my destiny to live with a person I couldn’t relate to. That I wasn’t really meant to experience the safety and support of an authentically loving relationship. Good thing I believe in reincarnation I thought. Maybe next time I’ll do better. I was working on radical acceptance.

No, she said. I think it is time to go.

What? I couldn’t believe it. I left our session, sat in my car and sobbed. I didn’t want to leave our family. I did not want to divorce. I just wanted to keep self helping and slogging along and staying stuck. It’s all I knew! That and a little sliver of light that came through to illuminate the concept of caring for myself.

It took 2 more years of therapy, self help books and personal growth workshops before I had the courage to believe what my intuition had been telling me since the beginning. Let go.

Shockingly, my marriage counselor “dumped” me – saying she couldn’t help me through divorce. I was alone again. I sampled some therapists but none had the answers to my questions or the experience of re-forming a family. I went into a wormhole of darkness, fear, anxiety and identity crushing loss. If it hadn’t been for a few loving people in my life, I may have disappeared.

I wish I had known then what I know now.

Because I could have done it better – for my kids, my community and my former husband.

And that’s why I’m doing this. Because now I know that divorce doesn’t have to be that difficult or that expensive or that lonely.

We can do this better. We have to.






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