Even as a marriage is deteriorating, some women find themselves hanging on- not out of love or devotion but because they are fearful of being without a partner. Having lived with a spouse for a long time, many feel unsure if they can “handle being alone”. A partner can play many roles: from simply “another presence in the house” to someone to call in time of emergency. They can also provide a built-in date and a co-parent as well as practical, financial and emotional support.

      However, sometimes women mistakenly associate just having a man present with being “safe”. Often we elevate a man to the status of protector; out of illusion rather than reality we assign him the status of “a safe haven on the storm.” If we believe our spouse has the power to “keep us safe”, then we set ourselves up to feel extremely vulnerable at the idea of being on our own.

     And if a woman does not choose to leave, but is left, this feeling of vulnerability can propel her to re-couple before she is ready. If she saw him as “protector”, she may rush into a new relationship simply to stave off these feelings of discomfort.

       So, it is imperative to examine your relationship with some objectivity. Was he really the “port in the storm” or is that a role you assigned him without merit? Some questions to ask yourself are:

       Did the relationship provide stability and security?

      Is this relationship the place you felt the safest?

      In this relationship were you free to be yourself?

      Did the relationship provide you caring and support?

      Was he the first person you think to call when there is good news/bad news?

      Were you ever afraid of his reaction?

      Did you feel constantly misunderstood?

      Did you feel diminished in the relationship?

      Did you feel inadequate most of the time?

      Did you worry about how he treats your kids?

      Did you worry about his drinking/drug use?

      Did you worry that he would humiliate or embarrass you in public?

      Did you always feel as if you were “walking on eggshells?”

      If you found yourself incessantly thinking about how to fix the relationship, then he was no longer your port in the storm. He was your storm. Certainly all relationships have stormy times and deciding whether this is a temporary squall is difficult to do in the middle of the downpour. Not all relationships can weather all storms. The duration, frequency, and intensity of the storms are what make them unmanageable, dangerous, and impossible to sustain. Some storms keep on raging without letup.

       Each of us needs to decide for ourselves how many storms we can handle in our lives. Some of us will only handle a few really rough ones. Others will sustain stormy weather for years. Consider what is healthiest for you and your children. Ask yourself, how often was he your safe haven? Does he frequently provide you with shelter – or is he more often the destructive storm? Knowing this can give you insight as you move forward in this journey.

       Certainly, there are times when we all need a safe harbor in life: whether we find it in a spouse, a friend, a colleague, or a family member. The desire to feel safe and loved is part of our desire to be happy and to find connection. There is no shame in wanting and needing a safe place. However choose your safe haven carefully. We all know that standing under a tree in a thunderstorm is the worst thing you can do.



© 2013 Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC is a psychotherapist in private practice in Farmington, CT since 1986.She is the author of the award winning From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce now available in Kindle format for $9.99 as well as in paperback.


  1. Diane on the 17. Mar, 2013 remarked #

    And relentless rain is as damaging as a dramatic storm…

  2. cj golden on the 17. Mar, 2013 remarked #

    I believe the difficulty lies in discerning which is the “safer” safe: being with the man who has created the storm or flying into the new storm of being alone. As for me, i had to learn to find shelter – and feel secure – in my own being before I was capable of leaving the storm that was my husband.

  3. Judy on the 19. Mar, 2013 remarked #

    I like brainstorming that helps me evaluate the “what was and what was not” of the situation. This was a good one. Thank you.

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