Monthly Archives: February 2014

5 Steps For Leaving Your Spouse

Naturally, when we get married we often say “Divorce is not an option!”, and I always loved those memes floating around on the internet “I want my first marriage to be my only marriage!” The truth is though, divorce actually is an option. It will always be an option, as it is legal to do so. Even if it wasn’t legal, know that some have been driven so far as to still leave their spouses- even if it meant being stoned to death!

Divorce doesn’t just happen, often times it is years in the making;  a build up before the “I do” was ever uttered. Marriage is definitely hard. I would say from my experience, divorce was harder. This blog is over advice given on how to leave your spouse first that may prevent the divorce.

Some people are just really great at hiding their major flaws, and there is always the classic excuse of “You can’t help who you fall in love with!”… So without further ado, for those that married their kryptonite, here are 5 Steps for leaving your spouse that may prevent the divorce (*note that I did not say 5 easy steps, because rarely in life anything worth keeping ever ends up being easy!):

Step 1.
Acknowledge the problem, find out exactly what the root of the issue is that brought you to the stage of “I want a divorce”, and then confront your spouse in the most gentle way possible. If needed (especially if Abuse is the issue!), confront your spouse with a counselor. Watch out for the blame game and be sure that your approach is gentle and not accusatory. Statements like “I feel like your ____ (insert issue, ie drinking) is hurting our relationship, and I was hoping you would quit ____ (insert issue) so that our marriage can begin healing.” Then add the boundary, “I need for this lifestyle change to take place for the sake of our relationship. If this does not stop, I will have to leave for a week so that we can establish healthy boundaries.”

Spouses typical answers:
a. Okay I will stop (but doesn’t)
b. Okay I will stop (stops for awhile, and then starts up again)
c. Spouse quits lifestyle issue permanently (You have successfully “left” your spouse, now your marriage can begin healing)

Step 2.
If the spouses typical answers occur a. or b. (IE the lifestyle change does not cease) then you must stick to the consequence you ascribed in Step 1. Leave for a week. Stay with an understanding family member or friend. Explain to your spouse that you must establish healthy boundaries, and in order to maintain your relationship they must quit (insert issue).

Spouses typical answers:
a. Okay I will stop (but doesn’t)
b. Okay I will stop (stops for awhile, and then starts up again)
c. Spouse quits lifestyle issue permanently (You have successfully “left” your spouse, now your marriage can begin healing)

Step 3.
If the spouses typical answer a. occurs – you will not want to return to the marriage OR If the spouses typical answer b. occurs  (so you have returned after being gone for a week. Everything seems to be going great. Then the issue returns – as it often does, because lifestyle changes are hard!)  ->  You will want to explain that you will continue to stay away now for an additional month.
– AND with a. or b.: Now you should leave for a month. Stay with an understanding family member or friend.

Spouses typical answers:
a. Okay I will stop (but doesn’t)
b. Okay I will stop (stops for awhile, and then starts up again)
c. Spouse quits lifestyle issue permanently (You have successfully “left” your spouse, now your marriage can begin healing)

Step 4.
If the spouses typical answer a. occurs – you will not want to return to the marriage OR If the spouses typical answer b. occurs -> You will want to explain that you will continue to stay away now for an additional 6 months. And require them to see counseling and/or attend classes like AA (you may even want to begin counseling yourself, especially if you’ve made it to step 4!)

Spouses typical answers:

a. Okay I will stop (but doesn’t), and doesn’t attend counseling.
b. Okay I will stop, attends counseling (stops for awhile, and then starts up again)
c. Spouse quits lifestyle issue permanently (You have successfully “left” your spouse, now your marriage can begin healing)

Step 5.
If you have made it to step 5, you would continue with Step 4 on repeat, but adding additional weeks, months, and years to the time frame, for as long as you are willing to stay committed to the failing/hurting/broken marriage.


*Understanding that lifestyle changes are hard to make and harder to stick to, and also knowing that at any time divorce is an option. If you start step 1 of this advice, I recommend seeking counseling immediately alone and together (whether it’s your Pastor or other Professional counselor). Surround yourself with understanding and loving family and friends, who will both encourage you in your marriage but also in safety and health.

*This does not guarantee your marriage will be saved, but it is at least a last resort before the divorce is final.

*And if you feel your in danger – get out! and get professional counseling!

With a quick side note to this blog: This is not really advice to be taken because your partner is always leaving the toilet seat up or even the “we argue all the time” issue (although if you find it useful, to each their own) but more along the lines of advice to be taken when your partner has a lifestyle choice you realized you can’t live with (if you are NOT married yet, as mentioned in the “9 things…” blog #1,  If you have problems with their behavior now, it’s not going away when you get married. Not right away, maybe not in ten years, maybe not for the entire duration of your marriage/life – so make sure it’s something you can live with or it will be something you divorce over).

The lifestyle choices I am referring to here fall under the three A’s (alcohol, adultery, and abuse). I would like to define those three A’s a little further. A for Alcohol could really be any addiction (ie alcohol, drugs, pornography),  Abuse can be verbal or physical, and Adultery is adultery is adultery; if you feel betrayed by your spouses missing commitment to their vows to love you and only you – you could probably throw this under adultery. When it boils down to it, the issues in marriage that often lead to a divorce aren’t black or white – but making the decision to “leave” your spouse has to be something where your at the stage of “Divorce is your only option if they don’t change” but you are willing/hopeful that they will choose change over divorce.

(They may not choose change over divorce…)

Big Gig Photography MM#656416

Big Gig Photography MM#656416

To Confess or Not to Confess

Sullivan Studios

I was watching a popular television talk show where they were discussing whether or not a person should confess an affair that happened prior to the marriage. Some of the hosts leaned toward hiding it. “What they don’t know won’t kill them.”

The thing is, confession isn’t necessarily about the other person. Confession is about healing. The sooner the man (or woman) confesses to their partner of any affair that’s taken place at any time before or during the marriage, the sooner the marriage can begin healing. Affairs (or any kind of guilt really) cause the guilty to become emotionally withdrawn looking for fights or sinking them into depression… Which will only hurt the marriage.

Without honesty, the marriage is already suffering.

It is not the confession that hurts people, it is the act. They were hurt the moment the affair began, and healing can only begin with truth and forgiveness.

Does that mean that the confession will make everything perfect? No, of course not. However, it’s not perfect now. Until couples are taught how to better communicate with love, honesty, and respect, they will continue to struggle. Marriage is already hard – holding back open communication just makes Divorce more plausible.

When making such a confession you have to be wise if you truly want the marriage to work. Making sure not to blame your partner for why it happened, not to get aggressive, and to make sure to give them whatever space they need to heal. Also, with the tables being opened and honesty flowing, be prepared to be attacked by your partners hurt feelings or to hear things that you didn’t expect.

Confession doesn’t mean you will be given forgiveness, and forgiveness doesn’t mean the other person has to stay with you.

Extend the same forgiveness you were hoping to receive.

That is the solid advice that should be handed out to the impressionable young men and women who watch that show wanting to maintain a stable marriage. Believe it or not, it’s 2000 year old practical advice that can be found in a very well known book.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. James 5:16

9 things you may want to know before you get married.

Big Gig Photography MM#656416

Big Gig Photography MM#656416

Married at 20 and Divorced at 24…
Here are 9 things you may want to know before you get married that may save you from a divorce.

1. If you have problems with their behavior now, it’s not going away when you get married. Not right away, maybe not in ten years, maybe not for the entire duration of your marriage/life – so make sure it’s something you can live with or it will be something you divorce over.

2. Marriage is Hard.  Divorce is Harder.

3. Make goals together and more importantly make a goal for your marriage. “This is/these are what our marriage is about…”

4. If they are a drunk/addicted to drugs now don’t marry them. (If you made the mistake of marrying them, then leave them – at the very least until they’ve been sober as many years as they’ve been drunk).

5. You will get used to their quirks (like leaving the toilet seat up, throwing their clothes on the floor, leaving dishes in the sink) but if you don’t communicate about how much it bothers you as each item comes up you WILL blow up and your conversation will sound much like “TOILET SEAT’S CLOTHES IN THE SINK HATE YOU!!!” And it’s harder to recover from that than the occasional ‘nag’ of “I feel like the house is getting cluttered and I need some help keeping up with the chores” (bonus: “let’s tackle this together, when is a good time for us to do together?” )

6. Don’t go to bed angry. Unless they are drunk and that upsets you; Then go to bed angry in a different area of the house or stay with a good friend so when they wake up and you aren’t there they know a “we need to talk” is coming. And then calmly talk about it, and make a plan for a change.

7. Talk. Ask each other questions. (You’ll never know everything) ….. 8. And more importantly Listen. (If you don’t make a habit of 7-8 with your spouse, someone else will and they will more than likely leave you for them.)

9. Also – have sex. (um… for clarification – I mean with each other) All the time. Even when you are angry, tired, or “not in the mood” because at some point you’ll go months being angry, tired, or not in the mood.

He loves me… He loves me not…

He loves me… he loves me not… he loves me… he loves me not… he loves me!!

Wasn’t life so much more simple when you could rely landing on the right petal, after plucking them off an unsuspecting dandelion, to let you know where you stand in a relationship with someone else? Everything is more complicated with age, including your love life. It leaves you questioning, “Does he love me or does he not”? With the crushing reality of adulthood settling in, you know you can’t rely on the once trusty old weed growing in your garden anymore.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

How many dandelions will have to be sacrificed to find out who loves you and who does not? How do you know he loves you? Will you always be in the dark? Here are 14 ways to figure out if it is true love or if it is one of those artificial sweetners that leave you with an addictive complex and a horrible migraine if you decide to leave.

1. Love is patient.
Is he able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious? You’ve decided, last minute as always, to go ahead and get dolled up for your night out with friends. You are already running late for the movie. You forgot something at home and have to turn around. Is he quick to anger? Or is he more docile when things have changed?

2. Love is kind.
Is he quick to give, gentle in nature? Would you describe him as someone with a “big heart”?

3. Love does not envy.
When you are successful in your career or friends/family relationships, does he support you?

4. Love does not boast.
Does he talk with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about his own achievements, possessions, or abilities. (Mainly because this will get very annoying…)

5. Love is not proud.
(This goes with #4. There is nothing wrong with excited about your accomplishment and even sharing your accomplishment with others. However, boasting and being proud are the extremes)

6.  Love does not dishonor others.
Is he always putting others down?

7. Love is not self-seeking.
Is it always about what he wants to do, how he wants things to go?

8. Love is not easily angered.
Is he easily angered? (Goes with #1)

9. Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Does he constantly bring up where you have failed in life, or failed him?

10. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
“…Love does not try to find ways to get away with bad behavior, and it does not put up with injustice. Instead, it treasures truth, celebrates good behavior, and promotes virtue. True love has nothing to hide. Further, to “not delight in evil” carries the idea of not gloating over someone else’s guilt…”

11. Love always protects.
“…We find a wonderful example of love’s protective nature in the story of Christ’s birth. When Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy, he was faced with a choice: “expose her to public disgrace” or “divorce her quietly” (Matthew 1:19). Joseph, being a righteous man, was planning to keep the matter quiet. In other words, he was covering over what he saw as a fault in Mary, and he protected her from public shame. This is love.”

12 Love always trusts.
“The fact that love believes all things does not make a loving person a dupe. Neither does it mean that love is naïve, undiscerning or credulous. We’re not talking about gullibility here, and a foolish lack of skepticism is not a part of love. To trust someone means that you are “ever ready to believe the best”

13. Love always hopes.
“Part of showing love is hoping, and part of hoping is seeing the potential of others. As Goethe said, “If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.” In love, we can always be hopeful and show confidence in others. This does not rule out confrontation or the redress of wrongs, but the impact of a positive attitude in the life of another person is incalculable.”

14. Love always perseveres.
“In the wedding vows, a husband and wife take each other “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.” The basis of this pledge is the fact that love perseveres.”

In today’s society, love is now very conditional and based entirely on how others behave toward us. It has become very much about how it makes us feel. It is vital to the survival of a relationship to be nurtured, much like a garden where you grow those dandelions. If you find yourself ravaging through the garden, pulling up the flowers, plucking off all the petals until you feel love – then you are going to find yourself with a dead garden and an empty heart. So when you ask yourself, “Does he love me?”  – be sure, too, that you are representing the image of true, unconditional love to him as well. (To answer that question, go back through 1-14 and see how those apply toward your returned behavior). Know also, that no one is perfect – and these 14 checkpoints to know if it’s love were pulled from First Corinthians 13:4-6 where the perfect Love is described. You must decide what boundaries you need to make in your relationship, when to cut the relationship off and when to keep on persisting. I would highly recommend reading Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk – one of the best written books I have ever read about boundaries (with ALL people – friends, family, coworkers, your children, and your partner)

Quotes in 10-14 pulled from the following links:

The Month of Love

The month of love… You guessed it, it’s February. Love is in the air! It’s such a beautiful thing.

Sometimes it can be quite the opposite, however. From unhealthy relationships struggling with addiction and abuse, to the classic relationship ender: affairs; love actually can be quite ugly. First you have to decide if it really even is love! Over the rest of February – I promise to bring you solid advice on relationships. The following blog titles may snare you in:

He loves me… He loves me not…

9 things you may want to know before you get married

To confess or not to confess

5 Steps on How to Leave Your Spouse

If that brings up your curiosity, hit the subscribe button now so you do not miss a post!
(If you have a friend who could benefit from relationship advice over addictions, abuse, and affairs – share this blog with your other social media tools so they too may see the blog and want to subscribe too!)

JonPhoto MM#1905772

JonPhoto MM#1905772

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