Skip to Content

Three things that make leaving a bad relationship incredibly difficult

Are you struggling with a separation? My friend “Brian” is going through the crazy time common during a divorce.

Driven blindly by guilt, he’s making himself more miserable than he needs to be. He moved out, then guilt over “abandoning” his 18 yr old high school senior drove him to move back in.

It took a lot of courage – and a lot of pain – for him to move out in the first place. What will it take to move back out again – if he wants to in the future?

My therapist once told me, “When the pain is bad enough, you’ll leave.”

I did. And it was extremely difficult to end ten years of marriage.  Since then, I’ve observed many friends struggling with this awful decision. 

In retrospect, I see three things that make leaving a bad relationship so incredibly difficult.

1. The End of the Imaginary Future. During happy moments, my husband and I made plans for what we’d do when we were old and had grandkids. How we’d hold hands as we shuffled through parks. If I left my marriage, who would hold hands with me?

The fear that my imaginary future would never come to pass made me stay put for a while.  Can you relate to that?


2. Enormous, Unfathomable Social and Familial Pressure. Even if divorce is “accepted” in society, each of us knows in our hearts that a divorce is a failure.

Doesn’t matter whose fault it was, who files first, it is a failure because it means either a) you chose wrong or b) as a couple, you lacked the skills to overcome whatever went wrong. That’s why the guilt and social stigma keeps people trapped in misery sometimes.

3. Fear of the Unknown/Fear of Change. That whole thing about the Devil you know about the one you don’t. For women with kids, they have to factor in whether or not they believe their husband will help support the kids, and to what extent, and what effect will the loss of that father have on the child(ren).

For others, it’s the worry that no one will ever love them again, or put up with X behavior or something.

It’s a hugely difficult decision. Making it is one thing, executing it is another and choosing to stay the course once the going gets rough is VERY much another, as poor Brian has discovered.

I have heard, loved, cried with and comforted so many friends now, and over and over it really does come down to the words of my therapist so long ago: “When it hurts enough, you’ll leave.” I think people who have become accustomed to high levels of pain from their childhood have a worse time making the decision to change thing or get out, for obvious reasons.

If you’re wrestling with leaving or being left, may I recommend strongly you get help from objective third parties (people who don’t know either of you) and also read well-balanced information on the topic?

My special report for people facing divorce, “When ‘I Do’ Becomes ‘I Don’t!’” is carefully created from the best I’ve learned about the subject in the 18 years since my marriage ended. (You can read a sample by clicking below)

Take good care of yourself. Ask yourself if it’s your high pain tolerance that’s making you endure this OR if getting help or getting out (if things cannot be changed or one party is unwilling to change) would be better for your life, your health and your kids.

About The Author:
Wendy Keller is an award-winning former journalist, a respected literary agent, an author (Ultimate Guide to Platform Building), speaker, acclaimed book marketing consultant, and branding expert. Read more of her works HERE. You can also follower her on Twitter and Facebook.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.