Is Your Marriage Really Over?

Jessica, 35 years old, is trying to decide if she should end her eight year marriage. While she is leaning toward leaving, the answer is not at all clear to her.

Jessica and Don have a “good” marriage. They are kind and caring with each other. They enjoy many of the same things. So why is Vanessa in such turmoil over whether to stay or leave?

The problem is that Jessica is very lonely with Don.

They’re good friends, but they are not emotionally intimate.

Don has no desire to share any of his feelings with Jessica, nor does he have any desire to understand Jessica’s feelings. He’s content to keep everything on the surface, while Jessica wants a deeper emotional connection.

Since they have many good things in their marriage, Jessica has decided to try marriage counseling, and Don has agreed.

Counseling or not, there is only one thing that can save this marriage – Don and Jessica shifting out of their intent to protect against pain and into an intent to learn about what is loving to themselves and each other.

When You Do Everything To Avoid Pain, It’s Bad For Your Marriage

Don’s intent has always been to protect against pain rather than to learn about being loving to himself and others. He has done this by numbing out his feeling with marijuana and work. Don’s choice to continue to protect against pain or to begin to open to learning from his feelings will determine the outcome of the counseling.

Jessica, too, has operated with the intent to protect against pain. She has ignored her own feelings and been a “good” wife, submerging her own needs to comply with what Don wanted.

But at some point, she shifted her intent to learning about what is loving to herself, and now she realizes she cannot continue in an emotionally disconnected marriage.

The issues in your relationship may be about emotional distance, lack of passion, sexual problems, constant fighting, emotional abuse, (if there is physical abuse, then you must find a way to leave), or being used financially.

There may be control and resistance occurring around many different issues. Yet the underlying issue is a lack of open and caring communication.

And open communication only occurs when both people have a deep intention to learn about their feelings, fears, limiting beliefs, and resulting unloving behavior.

If one or both people in a relationship are closed to learning about themselves and each other, the relationship and marriage will not heal.

If You’re Thinking About Leaving Your Marriage, First Think About Your Own Intent

Are you open to learning about your feelings, beliefs and behavior?

Or, are you devoted to protecting against pain with anger, withdrawal, resistance or caretaking?

Are you avoiding your feelings with substances and activities, or are you opening to learning from your feelings and exploring yourself?

The first thing you need to do is deal with your own intent.

Once you are open to learning for a number of months, and really doing your inner work, then re-evaluate your relationship. Has anything changed? Is your partner more or less open to you? Are you talking more and fighting or withdrawing less?

If things are not getting better or are getting worse, then it is time to ask your partner if he or she is willing to do some healing work with you – through counseling, workshops, and reading books together.

If your partner refuses to embark on a learning journey with you, then it is clear that this relationship will not change.

At this point, you need to either fully accept it as it is or leave it. It will not become the relationship you want it to be unless both of you are open to learning.

If one or both partners remain in the intent to protect, the relationship or marriage will not heal.

Yet most relationships  – and your marriage – can be healed when both people are deeply devoted to learning about loving themselves and each other.

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