I remember when I was struggling with the question. How do I know if I should separate? Should we get a divorce? I remember when I realized that this very question was beginning to consume my mind. I had two little kids. How am I supposed to just give up on my family I wondered.
Eventually I asked my Dad, who had been divorced from my mom for many years, how did he know. He answered in a way I've never forgotten. He told me that I would know when the bad memories began to wipe away the good ones. He said sometimes issues in a marriage are like cancer. If it's an issue that is fundamental, it will eventually just spread through the marriage like cancer can through a body.
Once that starts happening, it can be pretty hard to remember what the good memories are, or why you even got married. I tucked that piece of advice away. I tried to focus on the good memories so that the bad ones couldn't take over. Somehow it just didn't work.
One morning, I literally fell out of bed trying to make sure my then husband didn't touch me. I realized then that we might be at the point of no return. I began figuring out how I might make it on my own financially. Once I had a plan, it seemed I never looked back. I realized that if I wanted to salvage some kind of decent parenting relationship, that I was going to have to separate and get some space before the bad memories turned us into bitter, angry, vindictive people. So I did.
It wasn't easy, and to this day I occassionally wonder if I gave up too easily. I don't think so, and if I'd pushed on, I would have likely wound up with an enemy instead of just an ex-husband. I can live with it. After all, the bad memories outweighed the good ones, but they didn't wipe the slate clean. We all survived, and I'm thankful.