Today we’ll be talking about the topic “Divorce is the Last Option, Keep it That Way”. I had a chat with a bossom friend whose also a lawyer and he mentioned that the divorce rate across the world was hitting an alarming high. After an hour or so on this topic, i mentioned that the figures he had were faulty as i believed there were relationships that had already hit the rocks but the parties involved were keeping it under tabs because they didn’t want externals in on the fact that their marriage was struggling. Asides from a few who get into a marriage knowing it won’t work, no one wants to be married for a minute. This always brings up the question. “Mr Temple, how will i know if my relationship is really over or if we are just going through a rough period in our marriage”.
My answer is this, every marriage must be tested, it’s trust, communication, intimacy, the friendship of the couples involved etc. Many couples emerge from these storms happier while others simply don’t. The difference between those who emerge happier and those who don’t lies with the couples themselves & what sacrifices they are willing to make for wholeness in their relationship.
I’m a Life, marriage and family therapist who has also been married for 9 years & one thing i’ve found out after 4 years of speaking to over five hundred individuals is that “There is no perfect marriage”. You can’t live in “Marriage Eden” for years. Secondly i also found out that couples wait for things to get out of hand before seeking the advice of a psychotherapist or marriage counselor. The accumulated frustrations, pain and hurt that come with delays in getting help usually lead many to see DIVORCE as the only solution BUT i’m telling you this, It’s NOT the only choice. I have heard many couples tell me the reasons why they want a divorce and i’ve listed some of them out but these reasons do not have to be the end.
A) I’m An Abuse Victim – Abuse within the confines of a relationship could be psychological, verbal, financial, emotional or physical. Regardless of what form of abuse you go through, none of these should be condoned. I usually advice abuse victims to separate themselves from their partner if there are children involved and the mother is the victim, politely request that the abusive partner gives you some time (from 1 week to a month in extreme cases). If this is not agreed to, feel free to involve the authorities because only a living human being can solve a marital issue. See details below.
Lagos -Domestic & Sexual Violence Response Team, Lagos, 08000333333,08137960048, Head Office DSVRT, Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja. email@example.com
Abuja- Project Alert, 08052004698,08180091072, firstname.lastname@example.org, , 26 Bamenda Street off Abidjan Street, Wuse Zone 3, Abuja.
B) I’m Tired of Trying – It’s a good thing if you have been trying to fix an issue in your marriage. The next natural question to ask yourself is this “Have i been doing the right things in trying to solve our marital problems?”. If you have also tried to consult an elderly family member, the religious leader of your local assembly, a marriage counselor etc. It’s even better. However, if you have continously tried to fix the same issues, change some patterns and it keeps coming up, does this mean it’s time for you to move on from the marriage?
My answer is No. Except in some rare cases, you cannot fix an 5-year problem in 8 days.I have seen couples come into a session hoping that after three sessions (150 minutes) with you, their problems of 5 years would disappear. Unfortunately, a marriage counselor is not a magician and i usually advice clients to work out the best long-term plans for their counseling needs as it usually works out cheaper for them in the long run. It takes a lot of repeated attempts for things to get sorted out. This is an effort that is worth it and couples who get through this are usually happier.
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C) We no Longer Connect Emotionally – i am yet to meet a couple who do not argue or worry about the intimacy level of their relationship. These are all signs that you and your partner are still conscious about making your relationship work. Not bothering about these actually signals that either one or both of the partners have given up on trying to make the marriage work.
To reconnect with a spouse, it’s usually important to bring back feelings that both of you have ignored over a period of apathy. The sad thing about emotions is that whatever emotion you do not consciously keep alive will die. Don’t give up on your family, your partner and yourself to put in every effort possible to rekindle the feelings. This could take time as i mentioned earlier but it is possible.
D) My Partner Doesn’t Respect Me – This is one line i hear everyday. Show me a relationship without respect and i will show you one whose lifespan may soon be over. If you have lost respect for a partner, how do you work towards healing your marriage. Respect is a fundamental part of every relationship on which any fix can be built upon.
However, i think it would be important to mention at this point that;
“Respect means different things to the male and female” Respect to a woman is deeply tied into feeling loved while for a man it’s tied into his spouses healthy belief in his judgement, ability and communication.
– Temple Obike
Now i have some good news for you if you are faced with this. When respect fades in a marriage, it’s usually not the entireity of the person you cease to respect but a component of who they are. My advice to you is to sit back and understand the aspect of your spouse which you lost respect for. On the flip side, find out what aspect of your personality which your spouse has lost respect for. If you can find this, we can solve this problem.
E) Mental Fatigue – “I’m just mentally tired of everything” is a phrase many couples who are under the strain are accustomed to. Every relationship MUST possess a semblance of balance if it’s to work. However if your relationship has gotten to a point where you are mentally tired of working on it, then that is a real bad place to be.
This is a point where you need to seek external assistance from a therapist or counselor because it simply means that the communication in your relationship has broken down irreparably. Even at this point, a marriage can still be salvaged.
Divorce is not a decision you need to make in a haste without exploring every possible solution for your marriage. This is because the moment you lower your threshold for solving issues within a relationship, you will always opt out of any relationship without actually trying your hardest to work it out. I have seen countless couples find their way back to a fuller, happier life because both or even one of them believed enough in what they had to fight for it.
I know you are the one in the middle of this crises and the one who currently feels the pinch but my input is this. “Just ensure that you are not making a hasty permanent decision on an issue that can be solved if your pride, sensibilities and will-power is fully engaged”. A perfect marriage is not built over-night so before you end yours, ensure you’ve done everything within your power to salvage it.
As always, i hope this piece on “Divorce is the Last Option, Keep it That Way” helped someone. If you are struggling with your relationship regardless of how long it’s been, it’s wort the fight only if you think so. Your crew, friends or anyone else may not see the importance of this fight but you know. Speak to a professional near you if you need to get an extra eye and opinion on the situation. There is no shame in this.