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How Do You Stand?

By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf

Standing is simple; you want to be married and thus you live as though married even in the absence of your spouse. You don't have to do anything but live. Stand by being married. While you are doing that, focus on your Self, focus on healing; two broken people cannot make a marriage work.

Should you Stand? Why? When or for what reasons should you divorce? Leaving a marriage without first working to heal the relationship, deal with problems and learn from any mistakes is risking repetition in future relationships. This is true and important even when you are the only one working toward these things. To discard a relationship without seeking growth and healing is to offer damaged goods to future partners. When faced with marital crisis, you have choices.

  1. Divorce: Discarding your marriage without searching and working toward resolutions or accepting your contributions to marital problems is to risk recycling your problems into your next relationship. It is no surprise that second marriages have a greater failure rate than first marriages. Divorce is seen as a simple cure. But in actuality it complicates things, as many do not divorce after long-term mutual efforts to resolve their problems. Instead they assume their partner is flawed or that they are incompatible together and that in their unique situation the problems cannot be resolved, thus they discard their marriage with little to no partnered effort. People thus fail to learn problem solving methods and enter subsequent relationships without the necessary partnership skills and more damaged than they were when entering their first marriages. It is all too common to remarry a new spouse who is a lot like the former spouse.

  2. Stay married with resentments or pretending nothing is wrong: This will only serve to increase the spouse's mutual dislike for each other, making divorce more likely in the future. Such couples may have the mistaken belief that since they are not divorcing, they are working on their marriage. They assume that their personal efforts count even when they fail to and often refuse to communicate their problems to their spouse. Often one partner is unaware that the other is not happy.

  3. Work on your marriage together: Make an effort to learn what both you and your partner need from your marriage and take responsibility for how you have contributed to discord and work toward resolving your problems. There is no guarantee. Your spouse can and may divorce you without your agreement or consent. In most places you cannot legally stop a divorce without agreement from your spouse--though different areas have different waiting periods which may serve to shorten or lengthen legal proceedings.

  4. Work on your marriage alone: There are similarities to working together when working alone. It is important to make an effort to learn what both you and your partner need from your marriage and take responsibility for how you have contributed to discord and work toward resolving your problems. You can choose to learn from and seek resolutions whether your spouse participates in such endeavors or not. That is what Standing is all about.

There will be some of you who read The Hero's Spouse website and become angry when in five months, or five years for the patient reader, your marriage is still over. There are many who believe that if one person is gone, nothing the spouse can do will bring him back. Often this is the belief of the spouse who was a Stander and who feels she failed. First I want to point out that failure is a measure of personal satisfaction and joy in life. Often this person is bitter and angry, feeling they were mislead into believing they would save their marriage, or that the odds were in their favor. They feel that they became desperate and pathetic in their behaviors to please and convince their spouse to change his mind. I want to make it perfectly clear: There is no guarantee. You can Stand until death and your spouse may never return. The same things in similar circumstances will have varied results. I don't know the statistics regarding returns--there may not be any and if there are I would be skeptical as to their accuracies, since coulds, what-ifs and maybes cannot be measured with accuracy, and since statistics may not include the different strategies as data points relating to success. Possibilities are not probabilities; it is possible to Stand alone and achieve reconciliation. But I also feel it is important that at the point of true return it is no longer a solitary job; there needs to be a point where both spouses work together in partnership to rebuild their marriage.

I'm Kenda-Ruth and I believe in marriage.
Are you tired of hearing...
  • Once a cheater always a cheater?
  • You're better off without him?
  • She doesn't deserve you?
  • I guess it just wasn't meant to last?
  • Divorce is no big deal?
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