Should I stay or should I go now?
Lately I’ve been getting a lot of reader letters about what to do if you find yourself in a marriage where one person has made the ultimate sacrifice, and moved to a new location for the other. In some cases it’s been across the world, others across the country, but the story is basically the same. They find that after a few years no one is happy. The one who wanted to move is holding firm to that decision, and the one that came to be a supportive spouse, is feeling resentful, alone and unhappy. They are constantly fighting, and the marriage is disintegrating.
I found myself in a similar situation when I was first married. I’d moved to Portland from California for my ex-husband when we got married. Secretly I’d always felt like I was the one sacrificing more. I was
the one that had to leave the place I loved for him. I probably always held it over him in some way, and I’m sure I resented him for it as well. So I get it.
If there is one thing I’ve learned this last year living in Seattle, it’s that location makes a really big difference in your happiness. If you hate where you live it’s pretty darn hard to be happy. Hence the reason I’m moving back to Portland in June!
As I see it, if you find yourself in a situation like this, you have two options:
1. You leave. If you have done the soul searching, looked at your life and realized that you are not happy, and that this is not the life you intended or want to live, then it might be time to call it quits. I believe in marriage, but I don’t believe in prison. It’s a marriage which in theory means that two people work together to do what is best for all parties involved. If that’s not the case, and one spouse is making all the decisions and not willing to counter sacrifice or compromise, then to me that transitions into a prison. There shouldn’t be walls around your life to the point where you feel like you have no choices, no options but to continue to live a miserable existence. I’m sorry, that’s just crazy to me.
We get one shot at life. There are no retakes. If you wake up and find yourself in a life you can’t stand, and you don’t recognize the person you’ve become, then have the courage to chose happiness. Have the faith to know that when you make choices that are in your best interest and ones that are healthy for you, that you will be rewarded. It’s not selfish to chose happiness over misery. It’s not selfish to chose healthy over unhealthy. And for parents with kids, the same is still true. Kids aren’t stupid, if they see you constantly fighting, and miserable they will be more affected and broken from that than you making a chose that is in yours and their long term best interest.
2. The other option is of course to stay. However if you stay, you need to realize that from this point forward you are responsible for that decision. In other words perhaps what got you there in the first place was doing what many of us have done, which is to support our partners wishes, so we followed them. In a way that was more of a compromise, and a support decision and less of a choice on your part. But if you’ve given it time, and things have gotten progressively worse, and you find yourself at this cross roads… the one where you weigh all your decisions, and you make the choice to stay… from that point on you need to be accountable for that choice. From that point on you can’t complain to him/her about it, cant hold it against them, cant silently resent them, cant bitch about it… none of that. Because the reality is that we always have a choice, and until you take responsibility for making it, you wont ever be happy and things will continue to get worse.
So if you stay, stay consciously. Stay with a determined will, that you can and will turn the situation around. That you will change your mindset about your circumstances, that you will throw yourself into your situation with 110% effort. That you wont speak of it negatively any more, and that you are committed to making your dream life, right there.
Both options are a serious decision to make. Both require commitment and determination to find happiness, and the tensity to let nothing stand in your way. You just need too ask yourself the tough question… what do I really want? Because at the end of the day, no other person (spouse included) is responsible for making your happy. That is your job. The ability to find happiness is in whatever decision is right for you. But make it with a conscious mind, and remember that you are responsible for your choices and for the direction and outcome of your own life.