Episode 36: Should You Stay or Go? The Impermanence of Marriage and Relationships

by | Last updated: Oct 29, 2023 | Podcast

Marriage is forever…or so you’ve been taught.

You can change (or end) other things like jobs and even other relationships, but marriage is “sacred.” And because you’ve been indoctrinated with this, the notion of ending your marriage can carry all kinds of bad feelings–sadness, guilt, feelings of failure, and so on.

But what if you accepted the idea that relationships are meant to be impermanent? In this episode of The Loving Truth podcast, we’ll dive a little deeper into this indoctrination (specifically regarding your decision to stay or leave) and why there might be an impermanence to your decision to stay.

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

1:40 – Why this one person hasn’t made a decision about her marriage yet

4:20 – The impermanence of making the decision to stay married

6:06 – The nature of relationships

8:09 – Owning the choice you make

Featured On The Show:

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

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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.

Sharon Pope: Hello, loves. This is Sharon Pope and this is The Loving Truth. Today I want to talk to you about the impermanence of relationships, especially as it relates to the stay-or-go decision.

Now ever since vows were created and we started saying the words “Till death do us part,” we took something that was meant to be more fluid and we want to lock it down. The idea here is that once you make a decision about who to marry, you are not allowed to make another decision ever.

Even if you get new information, even if you change, even if he changes, even if everything around you changes, even if the two of you make each other miserable and just keep hurting each other over and over and over again, you are not allowed to make a new decision. You've made that decision once and you only get one crack at it. That is it.

That's how we're brought up to think about marriage. You can change your job, you can change your mind about your job, you can change your mind about who your friends are. You can even change your mind about who you want to be in a relationship with from a familial perspective like we might be related by blood but I may not choose to be in a relationship with you. That's even allowed. But the person you marry, you are not allowed to ever change your mind around that. Think about how ridiculous that is.

I want to share with you a story. There was a woman in my membership. I'll refer to her as Julie. That is not her name. But she was honest enough to say, “You know, I've been going through the decision materials and I'm at the end. I'm at the point of where I'm supposed to make a decision and I'm just stuck. I'm not ready to make a decision and I'm avoiding it. I know I'm avoiding making a choice. Can you help me?”

I want to point this out to you because I think that it is indicative of what often happens. The way that my membership works is that you go through a process and it's called the decision. There are four steps to that process. At the end of that process, you are either ready to make a decision that you know your answer is to end the marriage.

Sometimes people get to the end of it and they say, “Yep, you know what, I know that this is the right decision for myself, my heart, my life, and my family.” Then they move into the next process which is called divorce differently. But if they are not ready to start taking action on unwinding the marriage, then they are in fact choosing to remain in the marriage and then they move into what I refer to as marriage 2.0, which is where I equip them to be able to create and sustain really a loving, healthy, connected relationships over the course of many, many years.

This is where we do some real heavy lifting around the relationship tools. But she's resisting it. She gets to the end of the decision and she doesn't want to make a decision. Here's what's happening, and I want to show this to you in this way because I think that you'll really resonate with it and it will make sense to you. If you know your answer is to leave, you know that and then it just becomes a matter of timing and how.

We have a process for that. But the reason she's so hesitant that she won't just click the button and say, “I'm ready to go over here to marriage 2.0,” she knows she's not ready to leave the relationship, but the reason she's not yet ready to move over to marriage 2.0 is because she's not blissfully happy in her relationship either.

We think because of this indoctrination, this mental indoctrination that we have is that if she chooses in the stay-or-go decision to stay, she's choosing to stay forever. That makes her feel trapped, and no one wants to feel trapped. Instead, she chooses to make no decision.

What I want to be able to offer is that look, when you make a decision to end your marriage, there is some permanence to that. Eventually, the papers get signed, and the marriage no longer is. Now we all have heard of people who get divorced and then end up getting remarried again. But I think we can agree that is not the norm.

Most people, once they divorce, it's done. There's some permanence to that decision. But I will argue that there is an impermanence to the decision to stay. Because what you're doing is you're saying, “I'm choosing to stay today,” or you're saying, “I'm not yet ready to give up on it. So, therefore, I am choosing to stay today.” That is empowering, because you're owning your choice.

But in the meantime, she's sitting back and not making a choice and getting stuck in the “Well, I don't know. I don't know, I don't know,” but it's how she's thinking about it. It might be, my friends, how you're thinking about it as well. You're staying stuck in the stay-or-go decision for years because you don't realize that the decision to stay is saying, “I'm making the decision to stay for now. I can make a new decision in the future.”

You are free to make a new choice anytime. It might be a week, it might be a year, it might be 10 years, it might be forever. But in my opinion, and frankly, in reality, you are allowed to make a new choice next week, next month, next year, next 10 years. If something changes in your heart, in your mind, in your life, you can make a new choice, and so can your partner.

Because this is the nature of relationships is that it takes to have you willing to be there for it in order for it to function. Think about it. There's you and there's your partner. Those are the only two people that are in your marriage and the minute one of you says, “I'm out. This no longer works for me,” well, then the whole relationship starts to fall apart. The whole relationship breaks down because it takes two of you to be there.

It's like when your partner proposed to you, and let's say you said, “No, no, I don't want to marry you,” well, the marriage never would have happened. It takes two of you willing to be there. The minute one of you says, “I'm out,” the whole relationship crumbles. So your partner also has a choice in that. He or she is actively choosing you today, but it doesn't mean that they're going to choose you a year from now or 10 years from now.

Frankly, if we had that kind of indoctrination in our brains about marriage, we would show up differently, my friends. We would not just put our marriage over here on a shelf and stop investing in it and stop dating our partners and stop treating them with the love and kindness that we used to treat them with when we were dating.

We don't often do or maintain the same behaviors to sustain the relationship that it took to get the relationship. That is because once we say those words “Till death do us part,” well now, you can't get out so now it doesn't matter. I don't have to show up for you. I don't have to treat you well, because you're not leaving. You're not allowed to leave.

This is why I say those five dreaded words “Till death do us part” have not done us any favors because it doesn't actually help us show up to our marriages in a really positive way, therefore, a lot of marriages are failing. You are free to make a choice anytime, and so is your partner. I think that that's really important for you to know.

When you own that choice, like what my client was doing was she was sort of saying, “Well, I'm just going to stay here in indecision. I don't know. I don't know if I want to stay or if I want to go,” well, you know if you want to go. You know that. By the end of my program, you know that.

If you're not yet ready to go, then you are in fact choosing to stay, and my friend, owning that choice is going to empower you. Not owning that choice and ducking back into indecision is going to feel disempowering and you're going to get stuck right there.

So think about it like this, in the stay-or-go decision, if you'd make the decision to end your relationship, there is some permanence to that decision. So it's worth taking the time and really understanding what is the right answer and is that the right answer for you.

Then, if you're not ready to end the relationship, you are choosing to stay. It doesn't mean you're choosing to stay forever. You are not trapped. You can make a new choice a week from now, a month from now, 10 years from now. Own that choice, “I'm choosing to stay today.”

I have one client who tells her husband, “I'm choosing to stay for today, for now,” because she genuinely wants him to know and she wants the reminder for herself that she's free. She's free to choose. Frankly, if we were all free to choose one another, we’ll show up differently in the marriage and I think that's healthy. All right, 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 & 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.

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