“You’ll never find peace of mind until you listen to your heart.” George Michael
If there is one relationship dynamic that I have seen hundreds (maybe thousands) of times it’s that once a woman makes the incredibly difficult and heartbreaking decision to end her marriage, her spouse begins leaning into the relationship in a new way.
He brings her coffee in the morning.
He leaves love notes in her home office and brings her flowers.
He becomes attentive. He is present and listens. He makes time for her and the family.
Basically, he begins doing all the things that might have made a difference a few years ago, but now just feels like too little, too late.
And when they sit down to have a conversation about the state of the relationship, he digs his heels in, providing all the compelling reasons why she shouldn’t want to end the marriage:
- Why would you want to throw away 30 years of marriage?
- I can change. Look at all the changes I’ve made lately. This time can be different.
- I love you. I don’t know what I will do without you in my life. I’ll never love anyone the way I love you.
I don’t attract heartless women as clients, so these pleas from her husband will often give her pause. He’s a good man and she hates to see him hurting like this. She thinks to herself, “Maybe this time it could be different,” but deep inside she knows that they can never really meet one another’s needs. The marriage has been broken for a long time. But it makes her second-guess her decision again and again and again.
This is the way of it when a marriage is ending, where one person wants it and the other does not. We are forced to choose between:
- Outer Peace & Inner Conflict
- Inner Peace & Outer Conflict
If she chooses to remain in the marriage to quell the fears of her husband and avoid disrupting the family to maintain the peace, she will endure her own inner conflict. Those voices in her mind on auto-play, “This isn’t right…why doesn’t my happiness matter…why can’t you be stronger?”
If she chooses to honor herself and her decision to leave the marriage, she will eventually reach a place of inner peace, but it will cause a great deal of outer conflict to those around her that she loves and cares about.
Often when women are facing this decision, I see them wrestle for months or years, hoping they can convince their husbands that their decision to end the marriage is the right one. What they’re doing is trying to find the magical place of where they get to have both inner peace and no outer conflict.
Except that place doesn’t exist.
Almost anytime we make a change, it makes those around us uncomfortable. It is our nature as human beings to resist change.
When we stop putting everyone else’s needs before our own and prioritizing our needs and desires, we get called selfish.
And when we are staring down the life-altering decision of ending a marriage in order to move forward and find some inner peace, the pressure and noise surrounding us to change our decision so that everyone else can be more comfortable…can feel debilitating.
In these moments, it is our courage to face the outer conflict in order to honor ourselves and the decisions we know are best for us personally that will lead us to the peace we’re seeking.