Caroline Moss is an author and host of the podcast "Gee Thanks, Just Bought It," which helps people find the products they need to make life easier, better and more productive. Now with this column, "Asking for a Friend," she's helping people with the advice they need to make life easier, better and more productive. To submit a question, email us at email@example.com.
I want a divorce and I don't know how to say it out loud to my partner because what if I say it and change my mind?
We have been married for eight years and were dating two years before that. I have been wanting to separate for a long time but was too chicken to communicate it. Now that voice inside saying this isn't working is louder and I just want out.
But I still don't want to say it.
I am embarrassed and don't want people to think we're failures.
I also am nervous that the second it becomes real I will change my mind and then for the rest of my life I'll be regretting the split. I keep thinking, what if I am wrong?
But every single day for the last few years I have thought, I don't want to be in this marriage. But also ... what if my gut is wrong?
I want to start out by unequivocally stating that I am not a therapist or a marriage counselor, and since I don’t know you or your partner I can’t say you should absolutely or absolutely not get divorced. But I do empathize with your feelings, and I want you to know that the hemming and hawing and confusion is valid — even if you can’t totally understand what you are actually feeling. That lack of understanding is its own feeling in and of itself, and it’s a real one. There’s nothing wrong with you and you are probably no different than anyone else who has been in a long-term relationship.
Instead, I want to focus on what I think is happening between the lines here. You wrote to an advice columnist asking if you should get a divorce. What that tells me is that you know in your gut (more on your gut in a second) what you want the answer to be and you are seeking it out from anyone and from anywhere. You want that confirmation. “I’m right, right? Right? Tell me I’m right.”
I imagine you have also Googled the question “Should I get divorced?” or “When do you know a marriage is over?” Perhaps you read some things that really resonated with you and some things that didn’t, which made you more confused. What I am wondering is why do you think your gut is wrong? It’s a question I want you to ask yourself (without searching the internet), or talk to a therapist about it. You are telling me that you have felt this way for years, not hours, not days. Years seems like a pretty consistent pattern. I also am hearing that you may be more comfortable staying with the known (your marriage) rather than the unknown (divorce), even if you aren’t very happy. Happy and comfort do not always go hand in hand. It may be worth exploring with a professional who knows you and can help guide you through the potential uncertainty.
I am positive that you were hoping for a more definitive answer here, but I believe your answer lies in the ways in which you trust or do not trust yourself.
Your gut is yours — it has led you, ostensibly, your entire life. You know when something doesn’t feel right and when something does feel right. You should give yourself some credit for that; you would not have made it this far in life, just as a human being, without trusting your gut on some level. Your gut telling you the same thing for years is likely a sign that something needs to change.
Do you have a question for Caroline? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.