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Why Do Women Stay In An Unhappy Marriage Years Beyond When It’s Healthy To Do So?


Abusive Relationships Mentoring

Listen To AudioWhy do we throw away the best years of our life on men who dishonour us, cheapen us, and are unworthy?

Staying, for some women, is easier – and safer – than leaving.

But what if we don’t even know we are in an abusive relationship?

Is such a situation possible?

In my case, absolutely!

Leaving my marriage, one I believed held genuine love and security into old age and had lasted 37 years, was one of the most heartbreaking decisions I’ve ever forced myself to make. Made especially challenging as I was 60 years old when I finally found the courage and willpower to leave.

It is confronting that it took me an entire decade to acknowledge the abuse in my relationship. And perhaps my story is not unique.

How do women like me not see or heed the signs to leave?

Perhaps it’s fear of physical retribution to confrontation. Fear for our welfare and that of young children. Fear of ending up homeless under a bridge. Fear of being scarred by leaving and not being capable of putting ourselves back together. Fear that we are too old to bust up our daily routine.

Sometimes, it’s less about fear and more about living in a distorted, mind-f*cking reality where up is down and down is up.

Let me give you an example. My husband and I had just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary and renewed our vows when my husband fessed up; he was in an affair, had been for over two years.

Yes, I’d felt things between us were “off,” but on the few occasions I mustered up the courage to ask him was he cheating, my husband looked directly at me without blinking and said he was not, that he was faithful to me.

I lived this fabricated, soul-destroying abusive reality day in and day out. I can see how he took pleasure in being the architect of my misery. But I wasn’t to know that – yet.

Losing my grip on reality, believing the problems I intuited in my marriage were all in my head, I reached out to mental health professionals.

The sad truth was, my husband’s daily head-screwing, delivered with a tender smile on his face, eviscerated just about every aspect of me. And it went on for years.

I lived for decades with a consummate liar. A vindictive man who weaponized love and pitted my adult children again me. Who made me the scapegoat of a family in free-fall. A man who repeatedly cheated on me, who one day up and left me to live with his lover, begged to come home a few months later. Heart-broken and vulnerable, I let him.

I stayed in my marriage for seven more years, utterly clueless about how a narcissist operates. I was deep inside the belly of a co-dependent relationship that fed on my misery and disintegration of the self.

But when we know better, we do better, yes?

Rising from the ashes of my marriage, I built the scaffolding of a new life on my terms.

I learned we all need someone in our corner to hold us up when we decide enough is enough. To help us take those small steps towards healing, agency, sovereignty, individuation, and self-love.

I found it starts with accepting that there needs to be some serious internal work. That we cannot rise above the opinion we hold of ourselves. And a big part of that rebuilding process is to examine beliefs and behaviours that drive our conscious and unconscious reactions and decision-making.

We need to be willing to surrender.

I set the intention for a harmonious life that uplifts, empowers, and transforms, and the next step magically revealed itself to me. And the next. And the one after that! But I had to be prepared to step into the unknown. To trust that support for what comes next would be there when I needed it.

Nature loves courage. You make the commitment, and Nature responds to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up.” Terence McKenna

The Hawaiian Healing Prayer – the Ho’oponopono – was my practice for self-forgiveness and reconciliation. Its healing energy allowed me to rebuild healthy loving relationships with my three adult children. Got to meet and hug ALL nine of my grandchildren with whom I plan to stay connected.

At 64 years young, I’m now happily divorced and, as they say, living my best life!

Sometimes we’ve just got to move on and not look back.

If this information was helpful to you, perhaps you’d consider buying me a cup of coffee.

Love, light & laughter

Catherine (Cat) Farrar




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