Should I Stay or Should I Go?: Changing the Ground Rules #3: “I Changed My Mind,” ct’d

Well, your spouse pulled that old Mitt Romney, “I changed my mind” on you, and now you don’t even recognize your own marital territory.

It’s hard–and my heart goes out to you.

But before you make any decisions, I think you need to get over your righteous indignation. Yes, you’re right that it’s unfair–it really is. But so, as they’ve been telling us for years, is life, so you’ve lost part of the sympathy card.

I guess I would tell you to ask yourself, “Am I willing to take an adventure into this new world? Is this a journey I could check out?”

Perhaps this is just the beginning of a new path, one that, true, you never thought you wanted, but one that just might turn out to be rewarding. It’s possible that Leon is so unwilling to act as a father, and is so hurt by Lisa’s changing of the ground rules, that divorce is his best option. But it’s also possible that Leon, if he thinks it through, might just like his own child better than his dreadful nieces.

There are some situations that it’s likely you can’t live with– perhaps a spouse who’s a heavy drug-user and brings all her junkie friends into the house to use while the kids are around. Ok, then you should go. But could you live with a husband who has abandoned your religion, or with being an active father when you’ve never wanted children? You have to decide for yourself what is intolerable to you.

There are two other points I’d like to make. One is that, no matter how hard you try, no matter what you do, and even if you threaten–and proceed with–divorce–your old spouse isn’t coming back. You need to get that idea out of your head, and you need to internalize your loss before you make your decision about whether to stay or go. If Kreindel is only staying with Kalman because she thinks one day he’ll re-religious himself, she may want to re-think her position.

Finally, you should probably consider if it’s worth going. Does your leaving the marriage help anything? In the example where your wife is a heavy drug-user, divorce can get you out of a horrible situation, and you can save your kids as much as the law lets.

But even if Brian walks, his children will still be raised Catholic, so is his sense of betrayal so great that he simply can’t stand to remain with his wife? Or is he perhaps better off working through his indignation and hurt, and adjusting to the changed circumstances as much as possible?

These are questions worth pondering when faced with a changed marital contract, before you decide, “should I stay or should I go?”


I help adults and adolescents through the particular struggles of our time: tension between couples, parenting frustration, blending new families, separation and divorce, (un)employment, cancer, and loss. When relationships come to an impasse, I use mediation techniques to try to ensure that each party will have his/her needs heard and accounted for in a dignified way. In addition to talking, listening, and reframing, I utilizes the tools of metaphor, active teaching, role-playing, visualization, and hypnotherapy.for families and businesses, as well as in cases of divorce.

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