January 16, 2020

To Those Who Feel Trapped In Marriage – A Final Unapologetic Message

As you are now aware, I am in the process of sharing my final thoughts with the world, one personal message at a time. This message contains my final words and thoughts to those who feel trapped inside of their marriages.

Dear friends,

Marriage, and staying married, is not the end-all-be-all for life.

Life is so complex, and each person’s prerequisites for happiness are so fundamentally different, it seems absolutely absurd to think that “marriage for life” is for everyone.

So, you said some vows once to someone you thought you wanted to spend your entire life with. Big deal.

I know, I know. Pitchforks at the ready. Like I said, this is an unapologetic message. It’s not an unapologetic message to people who love their marriages and fight for their marriages. It’s an unapologetic message to those who feel absolutely trapped inside of their marriages. Until you have experienced such a feeling, do not even pretend to judge those of us who have. You simply can’t. Not fairly, anyway.

Where were we? Oh. The vows.

I remember once upon a time, I swore aloud I would love sandwiches more than just about anything. Sandwiches were my jam. Why would I ever not love them? The thought was impossible.

Then I ate a bad hoagie that gave me some of the worst food poisoning I have had to this day, and guess what… I couldn’t eat a sandwich for years. The very thought disgusted me. Vow broken.

Another time I swore aloud, to her face, that I would always love for and care for our new cat. I literally promised that cat to her face in a moment of owner nobility.

Then I realized cats and I are not friends, our personalities clash big time, their behavior drives me crazy, and I hated her after a while. I found her a new, loving home, and that was that. Vow broken.

Another time I got married. I’ll tell you right now that I was so sure of that love that I made all sorts of promises to love her forever, and ever, and ever, and ever.

Then, shit happened. I didn’t like being married. We both fundamentally changed. And, due to the intense pressure of the subculture around us and the personal conflict that existed between us, I felt trapped beyond anything you could imagine if you’ve never felt it.

I wanted out, so badly, for so long.

Oh, we worked on our marriage. We sincerely tried. We were friends even when we hated each other as lovers. To this day, I believe we both gave it an honest and long go.

But in the end, that shit had to end. Since neither one of us could end it due to the insanely high pressure around us, one of us eventually did something drastic to make sure it ended. That was that. Vows broken.

Look, I’m not going to spend a thousand words trying to described the “trapped” feeling some people have in marriage (and even non-marriage relationships). If you feel trapped, then you already fucking know, to the core, what that feeling is. You know how it nags at you, and nibbles at you, and drags you through the emotional mud, constantly. You know what trapped is.

To you who feel trapped, I will offer this advice…

Jam two fingers into your neck and find your pulse.

Did you feel your heart beating?

Now count all your heartbeats for an entire minute. Let’s just say you counted 65 for argument’s sake.

Now I want you to remember that your specific heart only gets to beat an exact number of times before it never beats again. Your heart will beat x number of beats, and then it will just stop. Forever.

Those 65 heart beats? Those are 65 of your heartbeats gone, while you’re still stuck in your marriage.

If you know, beyond anything else, that you will never be happy in your marriage (and honestly, do the reasons even matter?), then grow a pair already, do one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, and just end it. Walk away from it. It’s going to end eventually, I can almost promise you that. Why waste any more heartbeats in it than you have to?

I could beat around the bush and try to give you advice to make it work first, just to make myself look good, but if you’re feeling trapped, then get out.

Don’t let money worries keep you there.

Don’t let your spouse’s feelings or future life get in the way.

Don’t worry about what your kids will think or how it will affect them.

Don’t worry about what your family will say.

Don’t worry about your mutual friends.

Definitely don’t worry about what your clergy will say.

It’s nobody else’s life but yours. NOBODY’S.

The money will work itself out. I promise you that. It may take a battle, and it may take some stress. And it may take some effort. But it will work itself out.

Your spouse is a grown-ass adult and will have to adjust and deal with life after you. I promise, if they are even worth half the worry you give about them, they will.

Your kids will adjust. Kids are really fucking resilient, much more than you might think, and if you talk to them about it in a healthy way, and support them with love, they will still thrive. Sure, they’ll be sad. They may act out for a while. They may say super hurtful things. But, guess what. Once you are happier, you will be a better parent, and that will reflect in them.

As for your family, you’re just going to have to tell them it’s over, and insist that they support you if they do anything but. They’re your family. There are no options to choose sides. They need to choose yours. Family has a way of pressuring you more than just about any other people in your lives, because (even with the best intentions) they tend to feel like they have some weird right to do so, in the name of love. Don’t put up with it. Set boundaries, and since your family does love you, they’ll get onboard with it.

You’ll probably lose some friends. Who gives a shit. You’ll make more friends, and you’ll still keep plenty of your old friends. Yes, divorce has a way of complicating mutual friendships sometimes, but let it land where it lands. Those friends who truly cared about you will still be there.

As for clergy, just… Don’t. Don’t listen to them tell you that you need to work it out at any cost. Don’t listen to them tell you what God wants on your behalf. Don’t let them guilt you into a life of unhappiness.

Hey, I did tell you to have your pitchforks at the ready, didn’t I?

Look. I’m not telling you to stop living and believing your faith. The entire point of this discussion is to talk about living a life that makes you ultimately happy. If your religion makes you happy, then live it. From the bottom of my truly agnostic heart, I don’t care.

What I’m specifically saying is that clergy have a very special way of making you feel worse and more trapped than you already do. Their answer very rarely is to do what’s actually best for you. Their answer is to pontificate about how happy you will be if you do all the “right” things, based on a handbook they’ve been given and centuries of bad advice being handed down. Their answer is often to make you believe that you are disappointing God Himself if you don’t stay miserable.

But, guess what.

Sometimes marriage just does not work.

Sometimes love just doesn’t last.

Sometimes all the effort has been given and there is nothing left for anybody involved to keep hope alive.

People do change, and sometimes you will change in a different direction than the person you are married to changes.

Sometimes marriage brings out secrets that alter the dynamic of life and love drastically.

Sometimes you can really love a person but hate them completely.

Sometimes you can get so worn out trying to make something work that you literally have nothing left to give.

Sometimes marriage just needs to end, and one of the times this is absolutely most true is if you feel completely trapped inside of it.

You have the right to be happy in this life, if that’s what you truly want.

And if happiness is actually just contentment, and you cannot be content in your marriage, and you know you never will be, then get out because you will never be happy.

There are fewer worse feelings in this life than being absolutely trapped in something that makes you miserable.

Likewise, there are fewer greater feelings in this life than being absolutely freed from something that has trapped you.

Walk away from things as soon as you know there is no other place from which you can conjure hope and sincere effort.

Sometimes all a trapped person needs is a strange form of permission from one person who understands what they are feeling and the fears they are facing to finally untrap themselves.

The truth is, you’re in a cage that has a closed door on it, but it is not locked. You can reach through the bars and open the door for yourself at any time. So, do it already. Don’t waste any more of your heart’s limited number of heartbeats. Each and every one of them is a heartbeat you will never get back.

Dan Pearce | Dan Pearce Was Here (formerly Single Dad Laughing)