The decision to end a marriage is not any easy one. We can become obsessed with saving the relationship. To that end, we have seen numerous counselors, martial therapists, physicians, and clergy. We have gone to seers, had our cards read, had our astrology charts done. We have read volumes of self-help books. We have consulted our friends, co-workers, family and anyone else who is willing to offer any opinion/advice(almost everyone!). Now we are exhausted and may feel utter despair. “When,” we ask, “is it okay to say this marriage is over?”

       Most women take half the life of the relationship to make the decision without even realizing it. For example, if a woman was married twenty years, she would say she has been unhappy for about ten years. The same rule seems to holds true no matter what the length of the relationship-women married forty years, will tell you that the last twenty have been awful. Women married five years, will report 2-3 years of unhappiness. Ask yourself how long you have been unhappy and you will probably realize that you have been struggling in your marriage for longer than you even thought. The truth is-no matter what others say; no one leaves their marriage without a heck of a lot of “trying” and soul searching.

       The opinions of others can shake the fragile confidence in our decision. Comments such as, “You always seemed so happy” or “Have you tried everything?” can fill us with doubt.  Why is it that we are so quick to take an outsider’s perspective of our marriage? They weren’t the ones living in it day to day! This ease with which we surrender our personal power may be due, in part, to cultural influences. We may have been taught to compromise and sacrifice for the good of our children, our parents, our co-workers. It is a trait often encouraged by others because it makes us compliant and, therefore, malleable. But does it help us to be true to ourselves? What about the need to honor our own opinion?

       Dalai Lama points out in The Art of Happiness, that we often confuse pleasure with happiness. Pleasure comes from immediate gratification, such as that extra piece of cheesecake, a new outfit, a winning lotto ticket, drugs, alcohol or great sex. Although these things provide a quick “high,” the feeling doesn’t last. Happiness is not achieved through ingesting or acquiring. It is a state of being that comes from living one’s life in a way that is congruent with one’s belief system.

       It is not surprising that many women in unhappy marriages find pleasure in food, shopping and alcohol. They are seeking an outlet for their sorrow, trying to put a Band-Aid on a bigger problem. Often when they divorce, the weight comes off without effort, and the abuse of money and substances ceases.

       Nobody wants to divorce. We really wish the marriage was a happy one but it isn’t. Now it is time to think about what you want for your life. Think about all you have done to try to make your marriage better. Trust that you know what is best for you and that when you authentically follow those instincts; you are not being selfish; rather you are choosing to no longer be selfless. That is when the real healing can begin. Trust your gut instinct. It will tell you when enough is enough!

 © 2012 Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC is a psychotherapist in private practice and 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.

Dealing with Divorce Group will begin September 2012. Space is limited. If you are contemplating or experiencing divorce and are interested in being part of this healing and informative experience,  please contact me at donna@donnaferber.com to be added to the list. Space is limited to 7 participants. Group will meet twice a month for 90 minutes  from September through December at a time to be determined by participants availabilty. Absolute confidentiality.


  1. Valli on the 15. Jul, 2012 remarked #

    Just when I feel I have a handle on everything from emotions to money, the roller coaster that is divorce sends me into convulsive crying jags. Then I open my email and there you are , always giving comfort no matter the subject. I am grateful the that and for YOU!

  2. Marilyn on the 16. Jul, 2012 remarked #

    I still identify divorce as a type of failure but getting that useless person out of your life is success. I still ask myself “what did I do wrong” or “what should I have done.” All wrong, I know, even after I have moved on with my life and remarried. Thanks for the constant reality check!

  3. Barbie on the 30. Jul, 2012 remarked #

    thanks and keep up the good work.

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