Marriage is many things. One of them is an endless series of negotiations.
I’ve been helping people with their divorces for 25 years now. When a couple are at odds, and considering whether to work on the marriage or let the marriage go and get divorced, they often discuss the terms of remaining in relationship. I think there are a few hard and fast – even absolute – rules Here are a few of them.
- When one spouse wants to try marriage counseling, the other spouse must agree. It doesn’t matter how many times it has been tried before. If the other spouse doesn’t agree, that means it is time to let it go.
- When one spouse wants to “investigate” the other spouse by receiving and using all passwords to all programs and having unlimited access to cell phones and other devices the other spouse uses, the other spouse must agree. If the other spouse balks at this then something is amiss. It is time to let it go.
- If one spouse wants to “friend” the other, and the other spouse refuses, it is time to let it go.
- If one spouse wants the other to install an app for locating their cell phone or tablet, the other spouse must consent. Yes, it means that the spouse can track the other spouse. That’s the point. if the other spouse won’t consent, it is time to let it go.
- If one spouse wants zero contact between the other spouse and a member of the opposite sex, the other spouse must comply, even if that means leaving a gym, a church, or a job. If the other spouse insists on maintaining any kind of a relationship with the opposite sex member when the demand has been made, then it is time to let it go.
- If one spouse wants financial records or phone records, the other spouse must comply. Full disclosure. If the other spouse says no or holds anything back, it is time to let it go.
Please understand that while these rules are absolute, they are not mandatory. There is nothing that compels the other spouse to agree. The only thing that should entice agreement is desire to remain in relationship. If they don’t want to remain in relationship, then they can walk away. And they should.
And for the requesting spouse, you are entitled to know this, demand this, expect this. This is a cornerstone of respect, the foundation of trust. “You don’t trust me,” means “you shouldn’t trust me. I’m not worthy of your trust.”
And when that happens, you have to have the power, the dignity, the self respect to let it go.