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Break-Up and Divorce

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If you're in a bad marriage and are really unhappy, should you separate, get a divorce, or stay in the marriage?

This is not a cut-and-dried decision as there are many factors to consider. We're about to step outside the box and ask you to question beliefs you may have never thought to question before. Have an open mind as you read the rest of this article.

Background: Is this a bad relationship?

Imagine the following scenario:

I was married for twelve years to a man (S) that deserted me twice. He also had numerous extra-marital infidelities. He took his stuff and left this last time about a year and a half ago. I tried and tried to talk to him, but he refused to talk to me or answer my phone calls. I was just heartbroken. He was my second husband. My first husband wasn't unfaithful, but he had an explosive temper and shouted and screamed at me. Even though he never actually hit me, I was afraid of him.

Anyway, seven months after my second husband left me I decided to try and move on with my life. I met a wonderful man (D). He was everything I had wanted – caring, responsible, trustful, and very loving. We started slowly, but after awhile I fell deeply in love with him and he fell in love with me.

I hired an attorney. I filed for divorce. After I had been with D for around four months he proposed to me. I was very excited and accepted. I knew our relationship was perfect and we had a wonderful life ahead of us. We were doing everything together and I was so happy.

S somehow found out and started to phone me. He told me he wanted us to get back together. He told me he would never do any of the things he had done to me before. He said he had found God and was going to church now. He said he was a changed man. He said I was still his wife and I owed him another chance to prove he had changed. He told me he was a broken man and was thinking about suicide. I finally allowed him to see me. He cried and cried and pleaded with me, telling me he had changed. I felt so guilty.

Should she take her husband back or stay with her new found love? What would you do? 

Love and Fear

While this is a very emotional situation, you should not allow yourself to feel guilty about anything another person does or experiences. They make their own choices in life and their experiences are their own. Be understanding and empathize with the other person, but never, ever make yourself responsible for what another person is experiencing.

You can control how you behave and respond to a situation, but that is where your control ends. Never let another person make you feel guilty. There is no right or wrong choice in life because we grow from each experience. Some choices just work better for us than others. Even the ones that didn't work out quite like you hoped provide the opportunity to grow.

Sometimes the best way to figure out what we want is to experience what we don't want. Try to learn from past experiences so you don't keep repeating them over and over. The Universe, or God, seems to keep sending you the same situation or experience until you learn the lesson you need to learn from that specific experience. In other words, patterns keep repeating until you get it right.

Our emotional scale has two extremes – love and fear. In every situation, ask yourself if you're acting out of love or fear, and always try to act out of love. Now that doesn't mean letting someone walk all over you. You need to make decisions that feel right in your heart, in the core of your being, in your gut, however you want to explain it. Just make sure you're not making your decisions out of fear, anger, guilt, jealousy, revenge, or any other negative emotion.

Others may react to your decisions with negative emotion, but remember what I said in the beginning: you can only control your responses, not theirs. If another person chooses to respond to something you do with a negative emotion, that's their decision and you can't control what they do. You can only accept their reaction with love and understanding.

Make your life decisions based on what feels right for you. Many, but not all, will disagree with me, but the only person you are ultimately responsible for in this life is you. Others come and go so that you can further the experience of life, but you come into this life on your own and you leave on your own, so make sure that while you’re here, you take care of you.

Religion and Guilt

When you choose to get advice from a religious counselor, remember that he is bound by the rules and regulations of whichever religion he chooses to follow. Those rules and regulations are not always based on love, but may also be based on control and trying to make the followers act and behave in a manner the religion deems appropriate.

Forgiveness, however, is the most powerful tool you have in this life. I believe there's a quote that goes something like "Forgiveness is God's gift to the forgiver, not the forgiven." It's very true because when you forgive someone, you let go of all the negative emotions around that situation whether or not the other person even knows that you forgave them.

This may sound harsh, but I would ditch the church counselor. He does not necessarily have your best interest in mind. His main concern is that you follow the rules of the church, whether you're happy or not. I believe we are all here to experience happiness.

The doctrine of misery is fabricated by modern organized religion. They tell us we have to suffer to be good people. Have you really read the Bible? I can't find anywhere in the Bible that says we need to be miserable to be good people.

My interpretation of Jesus' teachings and the Bible is that we should love and accept everyone and every experience that comes into our life unconditionally because life is perfection.

Sure, modern religion misquotes many specific passages in the Bible which have been translated by many different writers with many different perceptions through many different languages over thousands of years – and then tells us to follow their rules or go to Hell. I believe Hell is defined by the self-perpetrated misery that many people put themselves through each and every day. Hell is what we experience when we are not true to ourselves.

We don't need religion to tell us what is right and wrong. As long as you come from a place of love and acceptance, you'll always make the right decisions. I've never known a truly spiritual person who judges or condemns another person. Why would an all-powerful God need to judge us? That would be like us judging the actions of an ant in an anthill on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Okay, enough ranting on modern religion.

In Summary

If you find yourself in a similar situation,

  • Follow your heart and do what you feel to be right.
  • Stop listening to other people who are not on your path. You've heard the old saying about walking a mile in another's shoes before judging them. Well, the fact is, no one has walked in your shoes and they have no right to tell you what is right or wrong for you.
  • Stop repeating old patterns and stop punishing yourself for things that others perceive to be wrong. Follow your heart and your passions. Only then will you truly be happy.
  • It is not your responsibility to make anyone else happy, but it is your responsibility to make yourself happy.

If you're in a really bad relationship, and counseling has repeatedly failed, what should you do? Take the poll to see where you fit in on this controversial topic.

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About Dan and Jennifer

  • laura

    i loved this article! it deals with so much of what i’m going through. your words made me feel so much better on a very dreary day – thank you. my religious friends & family can’t seem to relate to me very well since my mind tends to be a little more on the open side of religion. as a result, they’re not around to lean on while i drag myself through the mire of divorce. the only upside of that is learning to depend on myself through it all – which is ok too. thanx again!

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    While I do not fundamentally disagree with what the authors have said about the necessity for this woman moving on from a failed marriage, I wish they would get their unasked for comments about religion straight.

    The concept of remaining in a marriage to suffer is straight out of the Middle Ages pushed by the Catholic Church called “de contempis mundi,” meaning that one dismisses this world and its suffering in order to store up brownie points for the world to come. This is a distortion of a Jewish concept that says that one does as many good deeds in this world to prepare for the world to come.

    Dan and Jennifer, if you want to give relationship advice, fine. But stick to what you know, and stay away from what you don’t know…

  • Baronius

    Ruvy, their relationship advice is even worse than their analysis of religion. “Make yourself happy”? Yeah, the key to relationships is being as selfish as possible. Madness.