A Marriage Unraveling: For Lack of a Pause Button

A Marriage Unraveling

It was a marriage unraveling in the most ordinary of ways. First came the arguments about in-law interference. Money, always a source of stress for a couple in their early 20s who hadn’t established careers, got tighter as their needs grew. When the baby was born with special needs, their ability to cope as a couple stretched like pie crust until it thinned and tore to the point of being unable to hold the relationship.

The only thing extraordinary about the breakdown of the marriage was that it was mine.

The Wife Knows First

The wife often is the first to experience something “off,” a sense of dissatisfaction and desire for change, and I was no exception. My husband didn’t see the need for marriage counseling. We tried to make it work, in the futile, pattern-repeating ways of couples on the brink. The harder I tried to engage him, the further he retreated. When I pulled back, he pursued me. We tried date nights, giving each other space, and the last-ditch vacation.

The problem with trying to save a marriage by going to Florida is that vacation invariably ends.

When I told him I wanted a divorce, he begged for marriage counseling. “I don’t see the need anymore,” I said. “It’s your problem now.” Still, I wondered if a therapist could help us find the ingredient that would return the gluten to the piecrust of our ragged marriage. I agreed to see someone, on condition that I meet with her for a couple of sessions to sort out my feelings.

Sorting it Out

A few sessions stretched into months, as I poured out my ambivalence to the therapist. At the end of each hour, she encouraged me to bring my husband next time. “I’ll do it,” I would promise. And didn’t, until I stalled and sorted my feelings right out of the marriage.

Throughout the process, I longed for a “Door #3”; something in-between divorce and marriage counseling. I needed a type of therapy that didn’t exist 35 years ago; a place where we could explore the ambivalence and figure out whether to move forward.

I needed Discernment Counseling.

A Changed Outcome?

The outcome likely would have been the same, but Discernment Counseling may have allowed us to slow the process. I believe I would have been open to exploring my responsibility in getting us to this place if I’d known there was no pressure on me to make changes and commitments for which I wasn’t ready. My husband might have kept his emotions in check with the support of a therapist while I was trying to figure things out, rather than relying solely on the biased advice of his friends and family. A lot of money could have been saved in legal fees and the interests of our son given more consideration if a discernment counselor helped calm reactivity and provided constructive coping skills.

A marriage broke down in the usual way. Today, there is a Door #3. Discernment Counseling would help me choose my path instead of allowing momentum to sweep me toward a conclusion I wasn’t convinced I wanted.

Is your marriage unraveling? Contact Linda Hershman today for help deciding whether to stay or go. Discernment counseling offices are located in Berwyn, PA and Margate, NJ.