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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

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We have a 2-year-old son. The guilt I felt for breaking up our family was massive and almost paralyzing.

Sad looking woman wearing hat

Marital Mess: I was collecting tile samples, consulting space planners, and selecting countertops for a massive home remodel when it hit me: I could dive headfirst into demolition of my home, and spend the next year burying my marital dissatisfaction in building permits and paint swatches, or I could take an honest, painful look at the true foundation of my marriage. I couldn't ignore how our relationship had deteriorated, and I realized: perhaps it wasn't my house that needed the overhaul; it was my marriage. The past four out of six years had been especially rough, and the promise of a shiny new kitchen brought zero solace. I wasn't sure I could survive. In my gut, I knew I had to make a change.

So I tossed my tile samples and weighed my options.

Previously, any thought of separation devastated and terrified me. We had tried individual therapy, couples therapy, working on it on our own, not working on it, I even moved out of our bedroom for the last three months, but nothing broke our pattern. I hoped he would fight for our marriage; he became ever more passive. The barriers of resentment and hostility continued to grow and divide us. Then one day, separation didn't scare me anymore, as if the scales had finally tipped. Separation seemed to be the only avenue we hadn't tried, and our only hope.

I believed that we just needed to step back and take a look at ourselves, to truly appreciate each other. A marital time-out. I knew that I harbored the hope that he would eventually see what a catch I was, how much we had to lose, how much he loved me. He hasn't. And I'm not sure that he ever will.

We have a 2-year-old son. The guilt I felt for breaking up our family was massive and almost paralyzing. Our son had been acting out lately because the tension in our house was omnipresent. It ultimately came down to this: I didn't want to model a marriage to him where Mommy and Daddy stay together for appearances and just for him, all the while resenting each other. I didn't want him to think that this is what marriage is. I hoped for more for him. I know marriage is incredibly hard work, but happiness, teamwork, and love don't look or feel like this.

We agreed to a "controlled separation." That's when you lay out the parameters of the separation so that both people know what's expected of them, like ground rules. The only thing we didn't agree on: dating other people. I wanted to, he didn't. It became the straw that broke the camel's back. (But that's a whole other blog entry ...)

No one ever plans on getting divorced. But, here I stand now, on the precipice of a new chapter in my life. Single mom. Impending divorcee. Two new identities I never anticipated. The only certainty in life is change, and as scary as it is to be starting over a single mom of a 2-year-old, I know that the best mom I can be is one who is happy, unafraid of change, and willing to make choices to put my own, and ultimately my son's happiness, first. 

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