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The Day I Left My Marriage

The Day I Left My Marriage

(And the unusual advice that challenged my decision)
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The day had come. I'd lasted as long as I could in my marriage. Once my husband, Bill, left for work, I packed a bag for myself and our 14-month-old son and left our home. It was the only year in our married life when we lived in the same town as my parents. Obviously the convenience of being able to run to Mom and Dad made my decision to leave Bill easier.

With a tear-stained, angry face, I walked into Mom's kitchen. She held the baby while I sobbed my declaration of independence. After washing my face and sipping a cup of coffee, Mom told me she and Dad would help me. They'd be there for me, which brought me great comfort.

"But before you leave Bill," she said, "I have one task for you to complete."

Mom put down my sleeping son, took a pen and sheet of paper, and drew a vertical line down the middle of the page. She told me to list in the left column all the things Bill did that made him impossible to live with. As I looked at the dividing line, I thought she'd then tell me to list all his good qualities on the right-hand side. I was determined to have a longer list of bad qualities on the left. This is going to be easy, I thought. I started immediately to scribble down the left column.

Bill never picked his clothes off the floor. He never told me when he was going outside. He slept in church. He had embarrassing, nasty habits such as blowing his nose or belching at the dinner table. He never bought me nice presents. He refused to match his clothes. He was tight with money. He wouldn't help with the housework. He didn't talk with me.

The list went on and on, until I'd filled the page. I certainly had more than enough evidence to prove that no woman would be able to live with this man.

Smugly I said, "Now I guess you're going to ask me to list all Bill's good qualities on the right side."

"No," Mom said. "I already know Bill's good qualities. Instead, for each item on the left side, I want you to write how you respond. What do you do?"

This was even tougher. I'd been thinking about Bill's few, good qualities I could list. I hadn't considered thinking about myself. I knew Mom wasn't going to let me get by without completing her assignment. So I had to start writing.

I'd pout, cry, and get angry. I'd be embarrassed to be with him. I'd act like a "martyr." I'd wish I'd married someone else. I'd give him the silent treatment. I'd feel I was too good for him. The list seemed endless.

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August 13, 2014  12:48pm

I can relate to your feelings of wanting to leave - all of the bad habits of my husband to just pile up and I allow them to pile up in me to the point that I just want to leave - go away. But like your mother had you do, I force myself to think of MY BAD habits that may drive him nuts too and realize that I need to change my reaction to him and to me as well. I cannot change him (or should even try to) when I am guilty of the same 'guilt' that I am wanting to place on him. It is easier to blame others for our frustrations and bitterness and so forth. But when we are faced with the 'right column' (as in your article) - we realize that we are the responsible party for our own actions and reactions. Thank you for your article - I know that there are others out there who feel the same way but have been in denial about their own responsibility in the relationship.

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August 09, 2014  10:05am

Although I feel bad for Bill, and I agree that the list is a very good idea to learn to reflect on ourselves also, I do have to say that I also struggle with a husband who is disconnected from God, and sleeps in Church , and my outlook on that is although the idea of the list is fair , Our husbands are commanded to be the spiritual leaders of thier families. And it has done great damage in my family for my children to whitness week after week at Church, thier fathers disengagement from Christ or Christlike things. It taught my children, whom I love very much and needed thier father to lead them in the way they should go when they were growing up, to grow up w/ a lack of real concern for eachs accountability to God. Today, because of this, thier lives mimic a "middle of the road " relationship with Christ that comes and goes to suit them. A life in Christ that is only appriciated when it is conveiniant for them. His lack of leadership causes my children to perish. I cant love that.

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July 26, 2014  5:08pm

I am the only one under my control. Her mother's advice was empowering.

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