How Does One Leave an Unhappy 40-Year Marriage?

Transcribed from my video at www.youtube.com/askvictoria.

A viewer question has come in about her mother who has been in a very unhappy marriage. Mrs. S has expressed a desire to leave for a very long time. She needs to begin with baby steps and to surround herself with support for this new and scary adventure.

Today’s topic is in response to a viewer question. This viewer is asking for advice about her mother, who’s been in a 40-year marriage, and apparently it’s been an unhappy marriage. She can recall, from when she was very little, her mother expressing the desire to leave her husband, and deep sadness and dissatisfaction with her marriage, complaining about it many times. This is advice to Mrs. S:

(0:45) Your daughter talks to me in this letter about the fact that your husband is an addict, a gambler; that you would absolutely love to leave this marriage and have expressed this many times; and that you lack confidence, that you fear this change. You listen to the advice of others when they discourage you because this is such a big change. You’ve been married 40 years, so obviously you’re going to be afraid. Mrs S, life is messy. Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t give up on something you’ve wanted for many years. I know it’s going to be hard; I guarantee you it’s going to be hard. But in order for you to gain joy in you life, you need to take some risks, and I’m not talking about crazy risks. What I recommend to you is trying this possibility on for size, in your visualizing. See in your mind’s eye what this might look like. Don’t scare yourself with large goals and decisions. Make it bite-size goals and bite-size decisions. If it’s about a housing issue—your daughter’s letter says you’ve come into some money, so perhaps you have the ability to sell your home and purchase a new home. That sounds like a huge ordeal, so think about renting an apartment. Think about a smaller version of the idea. You don’t have to change cities; do it in the same city perhaps. Make it so that you can do it, even though it’s a risky proposition, it’s a more comfortable way of going through this risk. Surround yourself with people who support you in this idea. Surround yourself with the advice that supports your inner desire.

(2:35) Read books that empower you. It sounds like you need to feel a sense of empowerment and confidence. You Can Heal Your Life or The Powers within You by Louise Hay. I just read Eat, Love, Pray, about a woman in the exact situation, who leaves a very stable marriage to seek out her own soul, her own sense of who she is. She goes on a spiritual journey or quest, and is very happy as a result for shaking up a secure life and going for something different. It’s not like you’re making a quick decision here, Mrs S; you’ve been in an unhappy marriage for 40 years, and your husband is an addict—gambling is an addiction. It sounds like you need to move beyond your codependence, beyond your people-pleasing and your deep fears. I want you to move beyond giving up on yourself. Only you can stop the giving up on yourself. I also recommend that you visit a 12-step group that would give you a sense of community, fellowship and hand-holding through this transition. CODA (Codependents  Anonymous) is a good one. Adult children of alcoholics and dysfunctional families. The letter indicates you lost your mother at an early age, so you probably did not have a foundation of support from a nurturing mother that we all need to grow up and fulfill our potential. So I recommend that surround yourself with people who would be able to give you that, and 12-step is an inexpensive way to do that—free in fact. Get a therapist or life-coach to hand-hold you through this very big transition. I know you can do this. I believe in you. I believe in anyone who has held onto a dream for a long time. I think that what you need to do is simply focus, and you will get there. I want to hear how you’re doing, Mrs S. Keep me posted!

Victoria Lorient-Faibish MEd, CCC, RPP, RPE
Holistic Psychotherapist
Masters in Educational Psychology
Canadian Certified Counsellor
Registered Polarity Practitioner
Registered Polarity Educator
Reiki Master
New Decision Therapy

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4 Responses to How Does One Leave an Unhappy 40-Year Marriage?
  1. Marriage help
    July 9, 2011 | 6:23 am

    It is never easy to accept and own the mistakes and saying sorry. The ego gets hurt and people tend to think that after saying sorry the other partner will gain an upper hand. Just by simply acknowledging the error or a mistake can resolve fifty percent of the conflicts. Most of the people who have a stable and successful are very up-front in their relationship and never hesitate to say sorry.

  2. Marriage help
    July 20, 2011 | 12:12 pm

    The availability of a support system is a great contributor to stable marriages.
    The support system is a network of friends and relatives that can be relied upon
    in case of any misunderstanding. Both partners can discuss the problem with
    their respective friends. By discussing the problem alone can put it in a proper
    perspective.

  3. southern sayings
    July 24, 2011 | 4:57 pm

    context refers to refers to Italian, Cuban, Mexican and Irish American groups. The
    other groups include Chinese, West European and Hispanic American.

  4. Lexie Rafael
    October 12, 2011 | 2:26 am

    Wow, this is such a big change for someone who has lived the same life for 40 years, but I agree! Your children have grown up and you cannot use them as an excuse anymore. If you feel that you are really unhappy with your marriage why let the rest of your life b unhappy, like my marriage counsellors told me do what you feel would make you happy. I agree to start with small steps.

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