Lately, I’ve received a slew of messages from disgruntled marrieds ready to throw in the towel. Some are still struggling; others have separated or divorced. All of which makes me wonder: how do you know when it’s time to give up?
First of all, let me say that this is an incredibly personal decision, and I don’t think any of us can answer this question for anyone else. Everyone has their own tipping point, and that point’s going to look different for different people.
That said, I’d like to share a few things that have helped me these past few years:
Therapy. Finding a good therapist can be life-changing. Emphasis on good, because you might need to test-drive a few before you find the right fit. One of the things I most appreciate about therapy is that it’s helped me identify old, outdated beliefs (as well as understand old family patterns) that were impacting my present life.
Know yourself. It’s my personal belief that we’re running so fast and hard these days that we’ve become disconnected from who we really are, not to mention what we really want (hint: it’s not that new shiny/expensive thing you’re aching to buy). Finding a way to slow down and reconnect with who you are underneath can do wonders. It can also rock your world—in a good or bad way, depending on how far you’ve drifted off course.
Move it or lose it. Run, walk, play, get outside. Whatever it is, get moving—it’ll help you get out of your mind and back into your body. Plus it’ll get your endorphins moving again, which helps everything. Personally, I’m a giant fan of dance, because it’s helped me access parts of myself that have been buried for years. It also helped me reclaim my body after two pregnancies and nursing two babies.
Take quiet time. One of my favorite books this past year has been Trevor Blake’s Three Simple Steps. It’s a simple, straightforward book about how to get what you want out of life and it’s helped me immensely. One of the book’s basic premises is this: take 20 minutes of quiet time every day, first thing in the morning, and it’ll change your life. Not only will it put you back in touch with who you are and what’s important to you, but it’ll help you solve those problems you can’t seem to get at any other way.
Seriously. By letting your brain’s neurons out to play for 20 minutes every day, you begin to create new pathways in your brain. Over time, those pathways pay off in all sorts of ways, big and small, including helping you come up with answers that have been evading you.
By the way, I’m not the only one who believes this works. All sorts of successful, happy, creative folks (from Martha Beck to Pharrell Williams) use this technique.
Examine your expectations. This is another big one—especially for those of you who are really stuck in the muck. If you believe your marriage sucks and there’s nothing to be done about it, then you’re going to approach every little thing that happens from that perspective, and things are going to become even messier than they already are. But if you can come from a place of compassion, say, and realize that your spouse might really be suffering, you might just be able to open up your heart enough to start shifting things.
(For further reading on this one, check out Blake’s Three Simple Steps or Howard Glasser’s All Children Flourishing–Igniting the Greatness of Our Children. I first tried this technique with my kids a couple of years ago, when I realized that yelling at them just made everything worse. Blake’s book can give you the larger picture on this one, especially if you’re also trying to change other parts of your life.)
Get outside. This is another one of Blake’s major tenets, and I can’t recommend it enough. As many of you know, my mother passed away last December, and there have been many times this past year when I’ve been sidelined by grief. During the worst of those times, one of the only things that helped was getting out into nature. It helped me clear my mind and begin to breathe again. It also helped me find a bit of peace.
Which leads me to my last point:
Take a Break.When life’s got you down (and even when it doesn’t), take a break. Read for 15 minutes, meet a friend, go for a walk, see a movie, or hell, crawl into bed for a few minutes. Do something just for you and ignore your to-do list for a few minutes if not a few hours.
My personal belief is that a lot of our problems in life (work, marriage, whatever) come from some kind of disconnect with our true self. Reconnecting with who you are can turn your life around. It has mine.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for today, friend.
As always, I’d love to hear what’s worked for you. Remember that you can comment below with a fake name if you like (your email address won’t be published.) You can also send me a personal message through the contact page. If I get enough feedback on this topic, I’ll run a follow-up post summarizing what folks have shared (without including names, of course). Thanks!