Posts Tagged ‘encumbrance’

One day my sister called me up and asked me, “Julie how did you know to leave your ex?”

Decisions are rarely easy. Most of the time they are difficult. The decision to stay in a relationship is not easy, nor is the decision to leave. Four times I’ve been the one to “make the decision” to leave a long term relationship or marriage. I’ve learned a lot about knowing whether or not I should leave a relationship. The first time was a good choice, the second time it was unclear but with hindsight I know I made the decision prematurely. The third time the decision should never have been needed to be made, and that said the decision to leave should have been made much earlier. The fourth time was very tough to say “I’m sorry, I’m leaving.” Knowing to leave or not came down to the answer of one question.

To answer my sister’s question I socratically asked her a really big question, “Can you imagine him never being in your life, ever again?” Her reply would help her answer her own deeper question of “How do I know if I should leave him?”

Answering the question myself about my first long term relationship, when I was eighteen, I would say, “Yes, I can imagine him never being in my life again.” We were good for each other at the time. It was a critical life learning. And there were no regrets escaping that relationship.

To answer the question about my first husband I would say, “I’m not sure…” We had had some tough times because of some of his health problems. A divorce was probably premature, but he felt he was holding me back from growing emotionally and professionally. And I was without outside emotional support. The divorce was a mutual decision. I moved away during the divorce process to move back to town a year later. A teeny part of me had hoped that he would still be around that we could check in and see where we were each at. My dad’s cousin had remarried his wife after about ten years of being divorced, so why couldn’t we? He had moved and we completely lost contact after our divorce hearing.

Answering the question about my second husband “Yes, absolutely yes I can imagine him never being in my life ever again.” Initially I had thought there would be things that I would miss, in particular his companionship. I married my best friend and that is how we should have remained. However it was a good decision, as the divorce was not as amicable as I had expected. It was difficult logistically and financially, but I had gone through one divorce and I was in a better place professionally the second time around. I leaned on my friends and family for support; I’d get through it.

Answering the question in relation to leaving my second long term relationship, who wasn’t a husband “No I can’t imagine him not being in my life.” I had a deep desire to be married. Yes I wanted to be married again, for a third time. It took me over eighteen months and some therapy to gain any understanding why I had this need to be married. It was not a religious living-in-sin type of feeling. I felt a deep sacred need to be married, one that is beyond logic. This did not meet his needs. It was a non-negotiable for me, so I had to say “Goodbye.” And I’m glad I did because a few months later I met my champion, now husband who is so very happy that we are married.

If you can imagine him never being in your life anymore, then it very well may be time to leave.

If you can’t imagine him never being in your life and there are non-negotiables or deal breakers that are not being met, I would suggest you explore the situation as thoroughly as possible.

If you can’t imagine him never being in your life again, and there are no deal breakers, keep working at it. Hindsight is very difficult.


How have you known it was time to leave?

What has helped you decide to stay or leave?

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