You Don’t Just Get To Leave

Marriage is hard. Perhaps yours is especially hard. You both work very hard…or maybe only one of you works hard and that’s the problem. Perhaps one of you has worked very hard on this relationship and the other hasn’t. Perhaps it’s been a very long time, perhaps you’ve drifted very far apart. Maybe you’re bored. Maybe you’re just tired.


“You don’t just leave your husband, Martha,” Ingrid says in Meg Mason’s beautiful novel Sorrow and Bliss. “Not unless there’s a proper-proper reason or …you don’t give a fuck about anybody except yourself.” But what if you’re unhappy, Martha asks? “It doesn’t matter if you’re unhappy,” comes the reply. “It’s not a good enough reason. If you’re just bored and it’s all a bit hard and you don’t feel like you love them anymore, who cares. You made a deal.”

You made the deal with your spouse at the altar or at the courthouse and that counts. But more, you made the deal with your kids when you brought them into this world. You made a deal with them to provide them stability and consistency and that you would put them first. Are there exceptions to that? Of course–there are proper reasons to end a marriage. And those reasons are serious and not to be insulted by a whim or fantasy or a desire for things to be nice and easy again.

Greener pasture is not a proper reason. Being mildly unhappy or stymied or not fulfilled is probably not one either. Rough patches are not. There’s plenty to do, plenty to change, plenty to accept and adjust and accommodate, in some cases simply to endure. You made a deal with your kids that you would. Hold up your end as best you can, even if your spouse is struggling with their part. Hold the line. Give it your best…and then give it some more time. You don’t just leave.

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