If you’re one of the millions of souls stuck in an unhappy marriage or relationship, maybe you should give yourself (and your partner) the best Valentine’s Day gift ever:
No, no, no – I’m not suggesting you give up on commitments easily. If you’re experiencing short-term turbulence, or some (c’mon, admit it) routine disruptions in your couple dynamics, you probably know what to do: work, work, work on the relationship. Communicate, communicate, communicate. On your own or with a therapist. Whatever works. Or might work. Be honest. Own your shortcomings (you normal human, you) and your partner’s too. Then roll up heart and soul sleeves and try to make it better. And enjoy the comfort of just going through the process, knowing you both even want to do that.
Everybody else in the yuuuuge crowd feeling stuck in misery? Maybe you’ve tried “work to make it work” already. Maybe a lot of time, effort, and tears have been expended, but alas, the monitor reads flatline. You’re feeling trapped in a relationship that’s unfulfilling at best, and maybe barren, devoid of even the hope of future joy at worst. It’s like a dead end… but on a ridiculously long road you can’t get off. Meaning: the rest of your life. The days, weeks, months, years, decades to come. All just… more of the same.
Well, f*** it. Get a divorce. After all, Valentine’s Day is coming. You know, that holiday you used to adore but now cringe from? Because it reminds you of what you want but don’t have?
No. Get a divorce.
And please know: Divorce does not have to be war. Divorce does not have to be two people tearing each other down, crawling off the battlefield and wounded for life.
Of course, divorce is never easy. You are, after all, ending a serious, emotional and legal commitment, and probably reconstituting a family. It’s a big deal, in which you and others are deeply invested. There’s no way to move on without negative consequences and some hurt.
Then again, there’s no way to do so many worthwhile things in life without risking negative consequences and hurt.
Say, like giving birth to a newborn baby?
Wouldn’t it be nice if women could birth with no pain? No serious health risks? No nine months of discomfort and massively changing bodies? No bearing the brunt of societal and workplace prejudices? It’s a wonder any woman volunteers for birthing at all.
But they do. And it’s almost always wonderful. Messy, painful, difficult… and wonderful. A baby is born – and a new world, too.
That baby can be you.
Scary? Risky? Difficult? Hell yes. But forgive me if I say… so what. If you’re waiting for some moment to move on from your relationship that’s not difficult, risky and scary, well, good luck in the afterlife.
In this life, maybe just start small and give yourself a break. A brief, calm, thinking and reflection break. To look around and get some information and see what your options are. You’ll quickly discover that here in the modern world, people can break up gently and amicably. Maybe you can too. Go learn how. Search “happy divorce” online. Talk to a lawyer (first consultation meetings are almost always free). Or talk to a friend who’s divorced and ask them if they regret it. I predict that they don’t. Many people regret things that were said and done during their divorces –they wish they’d been kinder! – but no divorced people regret exiting the marriage. Don’t just take my word for it–ask.
Of course, maybe you’ll take that break and do your homework and decide that your marriage is worth renewing! Time to roll up those sleeves.
But maybe not. Maybe you’ll start to process that you’re not dead yet. You have a ton of life ahead. You and your partner don’t really want to stay in this waltz of woe another year? Five years? Twenty?
If you’re unhappy and give yourself the best Valentine’s Day gift ever, that holiday will again become a celebration of the heart–the day you re-embarked on your pursuit of happiness and romance.