Everybody knows there are some things you can’t just forgive in marriage. You’re probably already thinking of them right now before I say them, right?
Like abuse, whether physical, emotional or verbal. It’s terrible.
Number two is being cheated on. Whether he’s going to prostitutes or has another woman. It makes you feel like a doormat and a fool. It’s awful.
And three is being with an addict who abuses drugs or alcohol. That’s so unpredictable you never know what might happen, which is a painful way to live.
Logically speaking, you can’t just forgive and carry on with the status quo in those situations. Everybody knows you should just leave! That’s a common refrain you’ve probably heard again and again.
1. These Are Your Options
So the only rational option is to plot your escape from the abuser, adulterer or addict you’re married to. This means you’re left with the tragic burden of tearing your family apart.
It’s a scary, awful, no-win position to be in: You can either choose endless suffering in your marriage, Option A. Or you can tear apart your family and give up on your dreams of a lasting, happy marriage, Option B.
And those are the only options. At least, I used to think so—and say so, regrettably.
But are they really?
As H. L. Mencken says, “For every complex problem, there’s an answer that’s clear, simple and wrong.”
2. What Is the Third Way?
What if there’s another option? What if there’s a third way?
A way that’s NOT just sucking it up while you are continuously humiliated or hurt.
And it’s NOT just denial…forgetting about the past or pretending it didn’t happen and just hoping it gets better. That never works.
No, the third way is not focusing on changing your husband but changing your focus to yourself.
It’s not about helping your husband more but helping yourself more.
It’s not about whether you can forgive him but rather finding a way to be accountable for yourself.
I’m talking about changing the things within your control, like your outlook, your words, and the way you respond. I’m talking about surrendering control of things you can’t control anyway and focusing on your own happiness instead.
“But Laura,” you might protest, “you don’t know what it’s like to live with my husband! How will I ever be safe is surrendering ever going to help with such big, scary, stubborn problems in my marriage?”
Safety always comes first, and you are the expert on how to best make yourself and your children safe, so I support you doing whatever you think is best in your situation.
I’m here to share my experience about the little-known approach that worked for me and has worked for thousands of students who were in scary situations that they thought were hopeless. I’m not saying you should go or you should stay, but rather, here’s another possibility to try on to see if it fits for you.
3. The Only Thing That Ever Worked to Fix My Broken Marriage
Changing myself is the only thing that has EVER helped with the big, stubborn, scary problems in my marriage. Nothing else ever worked. Nothing else made me feel loved, like I do now. The rest was all just a stressful, exhausting waste of energy.
And I’m not the only one.
Melissa was 100% certain that her husband was an alcoholic. She told him so. She asked him to cut back on drinking. She called him a drunk and said it was hurting their kids. He just drank more! She was spending a lot of time thinking about Option B, divorce, because she couldn’t see herself continuing to suffer and letting her two little boys suffer.
But then she chose the third way. She stopped focusing on the things she hated about her husband, started trusting him and thanking him for what he was doing right. And guess what? What she focused on increased.
He stopped drinking entirely and started counting the days of his sobriety. You can hear him share about being sober for 18 months and giving his wife the credit for that in podcast episode #107.
4. Should You Risk This?
And isn’t that the kind of outcome every wife really wants? Isn’t that way better than sucking it up or breaking up?
You could even say that Melissa and her children were safer than they would have been if she had divorced. Isn’t that something?
But you might be saying, “Well, her situation is different than mine.”
That’s how Rachel felt too. She also felt very oppressed, so verbally and emotionally abused that she had a getaway fund, a secret stash of money she was planning to use to leave her husband. But instead of escaping, she invested the money in Relationship Coach Training, and today she is feeling happy and emotionally safe in that marriage to the very same man. She chose the third way.
There are many, many more stories of women in unforgivable situations who found that this third way was also the best way to make themselves safe.
5. How Do You Know if It’s Hopeless?
Your situation may feel very different. It may BE different. Only you know for sure what’s right for you. But then again, you wouldn’t be reading this if some part of you didn’t have hope that you too could find a third way.
I have hope for you too. After all, everything up to now has led you to this point. Was that an accident? Are you just the victim of tragedy? Or is there much more to the story, which isn’t over yet? Are you about to become empowered to write your own story?
In the Ridiculously Happy Wife group coaching program, we have a very powerful and popular training on how to write the end of your own story while you’re still in the middle.
And if you’re wondering whether you should forgive your husband, I invite you to think instead about how you want your marriage story to be. What if you could wave a magic wand?
As author Henry David Thoreau said, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.”
When you are ready to get support with your marriage, let us help you build your foundation.