Making the choice to leave your marriage takes a very long time. You try and try again.

When one person finally makes the decision to leave and the other person claims to have been “blindsided”… can that really be true?

In this episode I’ll answer the question, “Were you blindsided… or were you just blind?” (Thank you to Kelsea Ballerini’s Blindsided lyrics for this episode’s title inspiration!)

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

  • The difference between being “blindsided” and being in denial
  • Why “confusion” is actually just an indulgence you can’t afford
  • Why claiming to be blindsided only makes things harder (for both of you)

Featured On The Show:

Struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage? Book a Truth & Clarity Session.

Want even more tools to navigate a disconnected marriage? Join me on social media: Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | YouTube

If you have a suggestion for a future episode or a question you’d like me to answer on the show, email us.

Struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage and you’re serious about finding that answer?

Book a Truth & Clarity Session with a member of my team. We’ll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there’s a fit for you and I to work together so you can make - and execute - the RIGHT decision for YOU and your marriage.

Welcome to The Loving Truth podcast, where it's all about finding clarity, confidence, and peace in the face of marriage challenges. And now, your host: relationship expert and certified master life coach, Sharon Pope.

Hello, loves. This is Sharon Pope, and this is The Loving Truth. Today, we are going to talk about being blindsided, and this idea of, was I blindsided really? Or was I really just blind? That might sound familiar.

There is an artist, her name is Kelsey Ballerini, who created a song called “Blindsided.” It's brilliant. I'll give you two lines from the song. “The truth is hard to hear, but it wasn't hard to find, baby. Were you blindsided or were you just blind?” I had a client turn me onto this after she was telling me the story of what was happening inside their marriage and where they're at today.

Early on, they had a dream relationship where they were super close, laughed, easily finished each other's sentences, all the things. And after their first child, the focus really became around taking care of the child as often happens, because children, right? But that lack of focus then on the relationship, putting all their resources towards their work and their child, left nothing for the marriage. And so of course, over time they became more and more disconnected.

She would tell me about how there were times that she missed him and she missed the relationship that they had. And so they would come together and they would talk about it, and they would make promises about what they were going to do to prioritize the relationship, but they could never seem to keep those promises to one another. And he never wanted to talk about the relationship because he didn't want to talk about the hard stuff. He didn't want to talk about the emotional stuff. He certainly didn't want to talk about the ways in which he might be failing his wife, or because his wife isn't happy in the marriage anymore.

And so he would say things like, “What is there even to talk about?” And when she would try to bring things up, he would get defensive or he would shut down. He'd just go silent. He would have no opinion, he'd have nothing to add. He sort of gave up, right? Then that left her nothing really to work with, and she felt like she didn't really have an equal partner there.

So she stopped. She stopped trying, she stopped trying to engage, she stopped trying to make things better. And because he didn't want to talk about it, he wasn't actively trying to make things better. And so nothing ever got better. And whenever we leave things to just magically correct themselves, what ends up happening is things don't get better. Things end up getting worse.

Their communication was really bad. And then, of course, their connection was really bad. And when you're not connected and you're not communicating, you're also not having sex. So they're not connecting in any way physically, emotionally–anything. But what they're doing is being great co-parents to their son. She even joined a program, my program called The Decision, which means “I'm considering leaving.” She let him know that; she didn't keep it a secret.

So she's been trying to communicate. Now she's at a place where she has one foot out the door, and she's in a place of, “Should I stay or should I go?” And she shares that with him. And still, he's in denial. There's nothing to really ask about or inquire about or do anything differently–like, she's handling it. So I don't need to do anything. I don't need to handle it. And so over the course of our work together–but really this has been going on for years. Like a new woman comes to the decision to end her marriage in a few weeks or even a few months most of the time.

It takes a lot of years of trying and retrying and getting your hopes up, and then having them be let down, and then trying something new and committing to a new program or something like that. And it takes years to come to a decision that for you, the marriage is complete, that it cannot evolve beyond where it is, and that you're done trying. You've done all that you can do, but you're not willing to beat your head against a wall for the rest of your life.

Then you have that very difficult conversation with your spouse, as she did. And the response she got from her spouse is, “I'm so confused; I'm lost here. Where did this even come from? This is the first I'm hearing about it. I had no idea you were this unhappy. You never told me this.” Then she has to go back and justify all the ways in which she tried to tell him and tried to reach out and tried to get him to go to counseling and tried to talk to him and all the things.

So she's taken all this time to get to a place where she's now made the decision. And now he wants to indulge in confusion and pretend that he had no idea. It wasn't that he didn't have any idea, it's that he didn't want to deal with it. He was in denial. He didn't want to deal with it. And he hoped that if he didn't deal with it and he turned his eyesight away from it, that it would just go away, when in fact it got worse. And now he's playing the victim. I had no idea, you never told me, this is out of nowhere–I was blindsided, really.

And it can go both ways, right? Sometimes it's the man that's trying to reach out and trying to make the connection, and the woman is like, “No, no, no, I don't have time for that.” Or, “No, I'm not interested in that.” Or, “No, I've got kids to take care of, or I'm too bi,” whatever, right? We're just not interested. And so then when the husband finally makes the decision to leave, the woman is like, “I'm confused.”

Look, confusion is an indulgence. If you are paying attention in your life at all, when your marriage is falling apart, my friends, you know it. Even if you don't know it consciously, you know subconsciously, you know somewhere in you, you know something's not right; you just don't ask the questions because you don't really want to know the answers.

It's easier to stay in denial. The problem is that eventually denial catches up with you. Now, I wish it wasn't this way. I wish it wasn't this way because I see it happen all the time, that when a woman makes a decision to end her marriage, now is when her husband wants to do all the things, right? He wants to plan time together. He wants to communicate more and share more about your day. Now he's showing up in a new way, and he's greeting you with kindness instead of contempt, and he's not drinking as much as he was before maybe, or he's reading relationship books or watching relationship videos, like he's open to going to counseling–all the things that you have been trying to do for years with him or her, and now they want to do all those things, and that's when they go on good behavior.

When you are in trouble in your marriage, when you can feel that disconnect getting like, okay, this is not good. That's the rumble strip, that's the grooves on the side of the road, you know when you're driving and then you sort of veer off the side of the road a little bit, and it sort of jerks you awake. It alerts you to be awake because those grooves are so that if people fall asleep at the wheel, they don't end up in the ditch.

Well, my friends, if you don't pay attention to your relationship when your relationship is on the rumble strip, if you bury your head in the sand, go into denial and pretend you're confused, you're going to end up in the ditch. And then you can say you're confused. You can say you were blindsided, but really, really, you’ve got to own your part in that, because it always takes two people. And maybe your part was just, you know what? I didn't ask the hard questions. I didn't because I didn't want the hard answers. Maybe I didn't engage because I was afraid I would fail. Maybe I didn't try because I didn't know if it would work. Maybe it was just easier to avoid the conversations or to pour myself into the kids, right?

Whatever it is, when you can own that piece of it, then you can get out of victim mode. But as long as you want to indulge this “I'm the victim here and no one ever told me, and I'm completely blindsided,” I think in your quiet moments with yourself, you know otherwise, right? So if you haven't heard that song, “Blindsided” by Kelsey Ballerini, you should go listen to it. If this resonates with you at all, go listen to it, download it, buy all the things, because it's just a beautiful and brutal way of talking about, look, when you're on the rumble strip, pay attention.

That is the time to pay attention because that's when all the relationship stuff can make a huge difference. Even the little stuff like kindness towards one another and not contempt, learning how to argue better, and being open to your partner's perspectives and ways of thinking and ways of being, as opposed to being critical of them all the time. Those little things can make a huge difference on the rumble strip.

Unfortunately, those are not the band-aids that are going to pull you out of the ditch. It's going to take a lot more at that point. And going into denial does nothing except give it the opportunity to fester and get worse. Don't be blind if you're on the rumble strip. Let's take care of it now. I might be able to help.

All right, I hope that was helpful for you. And until next time, take good care.

If you're listening to this podcast because you're struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage and you're serious about finding that answer, it's time to book a Truth and Clarity session with a member of my team. On the call, we'll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there's a fit for you and I to work together so you can make and execute the right decision for you and your marriage.

Go to clarityformymarriage.com to fill out an application now. That's clarity formymarriage.com.