In this episode, I share my thoughts on when it may be time to consider ending a marriage. Although in truth we can leave a marriage whenever we want. However, there are a few specific questions to evaluate within yourself and your spouse that will ultimately serve you in the future after the decision is made.
While divorce can be a very hard thing to consider, let alone go through with, if one leaves for reasons they feel solid about, it sets them up for healing and a positive outcome on the other side of divorce.
Hi, I’m Andrea Giles, and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity
podcast, episode number 52: When to Leave a Marriage.
Hello and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast, where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouses’ betrayal, but to become
the boldest truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more for you than the life you’re currently
loving, but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is that possible? It is. And I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hello, everybody back with episode number 52, When to Leave a Marriage. I
am going to just go ahead and jump into this one. Okay. This is an episode
that’s been in my brain for a long time. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve
thought about it many, many times and felt like I want to get this one
right. I know that this is a subject that I do not take lightly, but that
people come to me with, all the time and they want help with. So today I’m
going to be talking about the most common concerns I see when it comes to
making this decision. Today, I’m going to be sharing some things about my
story that are highly personal, but that I’m hoping will illustrate some of
the points that I want to make. Okay?
So they’re almost always factors that make the decision a little more
complicated. Okay. It’s easy to think, “Well, when we look at other people
who choose to stay or to still leave, well, they don’t have this factor.
They don’t have this factor.” Okay. It’s easy to compare. Some of these are
children, children involved. Some of these are having the husband be the
primary breadwinner. Some of them could be feeling a really strong love or
connection toward the person that you’re with. Mental illness can be a
factor. There can be the question of what happens to an eternal marriage?
For those of you who are my listeners, who are not familiar with the LDS
faith, we believe that once you’re married and sealed in one of our
temples, that it’s eternal, that it goes beyond death, that you are
reunited eternally. So it’s pretty weighty to think of ending an eternal
These are all very real considerations and I don’t take them lightly. Okay.
When I decided to leave my marriage, here were some of my circumstances
that made it tricky to decide. I had always been a stay at home mom. He was
the provider. He had a lot of education. He had a bachelor’s degree, two
master’s degree, a law degree. He did really well. I had always been home
with the kids. We had six children. There was a mental illness factor where
there were some mental illness that I took into consideration on his part,
why I was making my decision. I cared very deeply for him and I wanted him
to be okay.
So how do we make these choices? I see a lot of people who feel trapped.
Like they have no choice, but to stay, but that is actually not the case.
And I’m hoping that this episode shows you and helps you to understand what
your options are and how to navigate this very important decision. Okay. So
let’s talk about it.
When do you leave a marriage? The sort answer is you leave the marriage
when you are satisfied that you have shown up the way that you want to,
that you have been the person that you want to be in the marriage and that
you like your reasons for leaving. Okay. I’m going to explain what that
means. Okay. Now I have heard it taught that you leave in marriage when you
feel like you could stay or leave and be okay either way, but that never
has landed for me. Okay? Yes, I do feel like when a client decides what
they want to do, I help them feel peaceful about it, about their decision.
But when it comes to making the decision of, am I going to stay married or
not? I don’t want it to be treated like I could wear this today, or I could
wear this today and either would be fine. Okay. That has never landed well
for me. It doesn’t feel like self love to me. It feels more like talking
yourself into being okay with something that maybe you know deep down you
aren’t okay with. Okay.
So at the training I went to a couple of weeks ago, one of my instructors,
coaches, mentors, friends, her name is Aimee Gianni. She taught it in a way
that rang true to me. She said you leave a marriage when you feel at peace
with how you have shown up. Like I said before, okay. Now I’m adding this
part. When you can say that you have done the hard work, when you have self
confronted, and when you’re willing to walk away in service of something
you want more. That is when you leave a marriage. When you know that you’ve
done the work, and I’m going to explain what I mean by that. Okay.
So in explaining what I mean, I’m going to talk to you a little bit about
my experience, and like I said, it’s very personal, but I’m sharing this
with you in hopes that it will help you. Okay. So, if you’re listening to
this that I’m religious, I’m a prayer. I pray, I pray a lot. Okay. Now I’m
going to give you a little bit of context. Okay. It was October 2012. I had
found out a whole lot of things that had been hidden from me for a long
time. It was rough. It was rough to hear. It was rough to know. And I
really just was like, “I just want out, I don’t want to deal with the pain.
I don’t want to feel all of this.” It hurt. It hurt a lot, but I went and
prayed and was open to what the next best step would be. I was open.
I didn’t want my kids to go through divorce. I wanted to work it out. And
in my prayers during that time, when it was really hard, one of the
questions that I asked was “Is it time to consider a separation?” And I
really was open to it for the first time ever. I was open to it up until
then, I had been very resistant to it because I wanted my children to have
two parents in the home. I love them so much, and I wanted that for them.
And so I wasn’t really even willing to consider it up until that point. At
that point, it was, is it time to consider separation? What was surprising
to me was the answer that I got, which was no, an adamant no. And the
answer I got was that I needed to give him all the love that I had, to love
him better than I ever have before.
You know, it was not an easy answer because I was feeling so hurt at that
time that there were lots of things that felt hard to love, but I prayed
and I asked for help and guess what? I felt it. And I gave him all the love
that I had. Now, as I was preparing for this episode, I went and found my
journal and you’ve heard me talk before about how grateful I am, that I
documented things, that I wrote it down. I went and found my journal entry
from this time. And this is when I had decided that I was going to give him
what I had, that I was going to love him, okay, and let things play out
that I didn’t know how it was going to end, but then I knew that what I
needed to do was show up with love, to be present. Okay.
So this is what I wrote October, 2012, at the top, it said “Notes to self,
to read in tempting hard times, trust that you know more than you think you
know. Trust that the Lord wants you to be happy and is trying to get you
there. He,” I put my first husband’s name, I’m leaving that out, “needs you
to support him right now, to embrace him, to love him. Even though he
really does not deserve it right now. Remember that we are all undeserving
of the mercy and grace of God, but it gives it to us anyway. Help him feel
the love of Christ through your actions. You have said enough, he is shamed
enough. He knows you are hurting. Be strong, Andrea. Hold your tongue and
love him through this. Dig deep and find the love to give. Be courageous.
You can do this.” When I read this in preparation for this podcast, it just
kind of blew me away again at how led I felt during that time.
And I’m grateful that I showed up in that way. I’m grateful that that was
what I wanted to give. I wanted to be that. I wanted to show up with love.
I wanted to support. I wanted to encourage. I was there for it. Now I had
no idea at that time that not many months later, I would not only be
separating, but I would be getting divorced. I had no clue.
It was March of the following year that I realized it’s over. That the
thing started to proceed towards divorce. In hindsight, now, I needed to
know that I had given everything I had, that it was real for me, that I
wasn’t faking it, that I was all in. I was willing. Now, some of the things
that I wanted to see at that time were a willingness on his part to come
clean with me about things that he was involved in, but I was not demanding
it. I was not pushing. I was loving him and saying, “I’m here, I’m here. I
want to walk this with you.”
I didn’t know that that was something that he was not either ready or
willing to do. And I will leave out a lot of details for privacy of him,
privacy of my kids, things like that. But what it came down to was
understanding that he didn’t want to get the help. He didn’t want to let go
of those things. And many more things came out that I had no idea about,
but what I can do is I can hold my head up and know that I showed up the
way that I wanted to with love, with compassion, with understanding.
So what are some good things for you to consider in making this decision? I
want to go over some, but first I’m going to back up just a minute. The
other thing that I didn’t know is that within a year’s time, he would no
longer be living. I had no idea at that, that his life was not very much
longer and I can look back with gratitude for myself that I showed up the
way that I did at the end of our marriage. That I gave it what I had. That
I was willing to do the work. I was willing to dig in, to see how I had
contributed to the situation we were in, and own up to my part of it and
show up the way that I wanted to, regardless of what he did.
So here are some questions to consider as you’re looking at making your own
decisions. Okay? And again, this is my opinion. Other professionals have
their opinion. These are mine. These are the things that I feel need to be
considered when you’re making this decision.
One, are you self confronting? Are you seeing how you have co-created where
you are now? Are you willing to be wrong, to apologize, to give the benefit
of the doubt? Are you knowing yourself? All of it. Now, I want to clarify
something really, really important here. Self confronting is not taking
responsibility for their actions. Their actions are theirs and theirs
alone. Okay. I’m not saying that you were partially at fault for the
choices that your spouse made to be unfaithful or to be deceptive in
whatever way they were. Okay. I’m saying, are you willing to look at your
side of it? It’s so much easier to just blame, right? To just say, “He’s
just a jerk. He did this and this and this.” But where real growth happens
is when you’re willing to self confront and hold that mirror up to
yourself. I am not suggesting that you are taking responsibility for their
stuff though. That is theirs. Okay.
Next number two. Are you learning how to emotionally self-regulate are you
taking responsibility for your emotions, or passing them over to him. This
is a hard one. I got married really young and I had in my head these nice
fluffy thoughts about how a marriage should be, and that a husband should
make his wife feel this way and that a woman should show up in this way.
And over time, what I learned is that I needed to take care of my own
emotions, that I needed to know how to take care of my own feelings and not
hand them over to somebody else. It wasn’t until I got more to that point,
not, I’m never going to reach perfection here. Okay. But when I got
stronger in that area, that I was ready to make that decision, because
guess what? A lot of people were uncomfortable with my, and I needed to
know how to hold space for my own discomfort with their discomfort, and
move forward anyway. Okay. So are you taking responsibility for your
emotions or are you passing it over to him?
Number three. Are you speaking honestly, or hiding what is true for you to
avoid conflict? I get it. None of us like to like, go into a fight, right.
Or have these conversations that bring up uncomfortable emotion. It’s not
something we look forward to generally. Right? But are you speaking
honestly, are you telling me the truth to yourself about what you want or
are you hiding what is true for you? Are you telling the truth about asking
the clarifying questions that you want to know? Or are you avoiding those
questions to avoid conflict.
Next, are you in a place where you can thrive? Are you in a situation where
you can thrive? What is the answer to that? Now taking personal
responsibility for ourselves, we have great power, great potential to
thrive in any situation. But when you’re looking at it from choice, from
what is truly best for you, or are you in a place where you can thrive?
Next, is he or she willing to do this work as well? Are they self
confronting? Are they showing up with integrity? Are they owning their
part? Are they helping to build something stronger? You are doing the
personal work of growing up, becoming an emotional adult, showing up in a
different way, taking responsibility for your feelings. Is he doing the
same? Is he growing up? Now, it might look like it’s at a different pace.
Okay. It might be that your version of growing up is a little different
than his, but can you see the intent? Can you see that he’s trying. Can you
see that he is trying to grow himself up to be an emotional adult?
Now I will never encourage divorce, ever, okay, but what I will encourage
till the day I die is personal integrity. I will encourage telling yourself
the truth. I will encourage being willing to ask for and to be willing to
hear the hard answers and to be willing to act on them. I want you to like
your reasons for staying or leaving. Something that my husband says often
his marriage is not meant to be an endurance test. That’s something that I
agree with. I couldn’t agree with more.
Now here’s a question that I get sometimes from people. Why do all this
work? All of the self confronting all the growing up. If it’s just going to
end? Why do I have to be the one that does all this work? I promise I
understand that question, but here’s what’s true. There is no downside to
this work. You know why? Because you get to take it with you. No one can
take it from you. Whether you stay married or you’ll leave a marriage, you
get to take it with you. There is no downside.
Another point I want to make is it’s never going to be perfect. Okay?
Meaning you can do the work, and you know, I can look at my marriage, 16
year marriage. And in truth, there were things throughout the entire
marriage that I could have done differently. 100%, there are things that I
couldn’t see that I was doing. There were ways that I contributed to
different issues, but what I can do is hold my head high knowing where my
heart was. I know that I tried my best to be a good wife and all the way to
the very end, I chose to love him and to try to be there for him, until it
was no longer in my best interest or my children’s best interests for me to
stay. It was no longer a safe place to be.
So we are not going for perfection. It’s not going to happen. Okay? It’s
not happening. But I promise you that you will know if you are showing up
differently, you’ll feel it differently. Part of the reason how you’ll
know, is because there might be more conflict. It might get worse before it
gets better. It’s like taking a cookie from a kid. Say, “You can’t have
that till after dinner.” They’re going to argue. They’re going to fight.
And then either you’re going to give in and give them the cookie, or
they’re going to calm down. It can often be the same when we show up
differently in our marriages. It can escalate. It can get ugly. It can
become really, really uncomfortable. So either you stand your ground and
say “This is how I do things now, this is how I show up now.” Or you back
down and go back into old patterns and old ways of thinking and doing
things and you stay stalled out.
Now, a couple more things, this eternal marriage concept, okay. That’s
something I hear a lot. I have, I have clients of all different faiths, but
for my clients who liked me, I was also married in one of our temples. It
was eternal. It was a very hard decision for me. But here’s a question for
you. Looking at your spouse, is this someone who you would choose to be
terminally bound to? Is this someone you actively would choose? Why? Do you
like your reasons? I don’t know what your answer will be, but I want you to
like your reasons. In my book, just because it’s an eternal marriage,
doesn’t cut it. Because I think it’s far more about learning to love
people, learning how to love, how to receive love, growing towards
something bigger and better as individuals, personally, and as a couple.
And if one person is not on board with that, if they are not doing the work
of growth, I don’t know that I would want to be bound to them. So that’s
Another big thing that I see is money. What about money? If you knew that
you could figure out the money, would you stay? Why? Or would you leave?
Why? Why or why not? Do you like your reasons? Okay. Now here’s the thing.
I don’t think that there are any reasons that anyone else needs to approve
of, but you. Okay. You can decide to stay in a marriage just because you
want to and back yourself up and say, “I just choose this. This is what I
want. I like my reasons for it. And you know what? That’s good enough for
me.” You don’t have to explain it to anybody. I just want you to know that
you have done the work of knowing why you’re staying, instead of just
staying as the default choice. Why are you choosing it?
When we actively choose things where in a much more powerful position than
if we just feel like we’re a victim, or if we feel like it’s just the
default choice, it’s just easier, but we don’t love it. Okay. I want you to
love your reason, whatever it is, staying or leaving. That’s it. Okay.
So that’s what I have today. So it’s not a super long episode. I hope it
gives you some things to think about. Again, when is it time to leave a
marriage? When you are showing up the way that you want to, when you can
look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I did the work, I pushed myself. I
grew, and this is no longer working for me. I no longer like my reasons for
staying. I no longer want to stay here. Is not a place where I will thrive
and I want more for me or for my kids or for everyone involved.” Okay. I
hope that you find this helpful.
Now to wrap this up, I have a little favor. Okay. I’ve mentioned before
that we’re coming up on the one year anniversary of my podcast and we’re
sitting at 99 reviews. So those of you who have hopped on recently and
reviewed, I really, really appreciate it. My goal for the year mark, which
is August 12th, is to pass up the hundred reviews. I know that there are a
lot of you listening and it would mean the world to me if you would take
the time to write a review, to let people know that this has been helpful
to you. And even if you don’t feel comfortable writing a review, you can
just, you can rate it. Right. You can rate it.
I do think that the written reviews go a long way though, to help people to
know that this is something worth listening to. Anyway, I would love your
feedback. I love hearing from you. If you have anything that you want to
chat with me about, or give me feedback on or topics that you want covered.
Just email me, Andrea@andreagiles.com. Okay. I love hearing from you. This
is for you. If you have things that you want from me, please let me know.
All right. Sending you so much love. I’ll see you next. Bye.
Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast. If you would
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