Is divorce ever the answer?

Hi Brooke!
I had a coaching session with a woman that is contemplating getting a separation/divorce. We worked through your ideas of the manual, the story we tell ourselves and how that changes over time, and how we are always growing and we decide to grow together with our spouse or not. While the idea of the manual seemed to resonate, the rest really didn’t. She got married at 22 and is now 41. A lot has happened in those years and they have both grown and evolved a lot, but they cheer each other on in that process. They contemplated getting divorced about 5 years ago, went to counseling, and have been working on it since. Lots of periods of good, but then she always ends up back at the way she feels right now. She loves her husband, respects him, thinks he is a great dad, and knows he loves her very much, but beyond that she doesn’t “feel anything for him”. She is worried about leaving because she believes it will hurt a lot of people, especially her husband, who she doesn’t think has done anything “wrong”. She doesn’t want to spend her life “going through the motions”. She tries to always wear a mask of happiness and holds herself to a high level of behavior, her words were when she is around him are “I act happy and easy going because then I know he will leave”.

We worked on the idea that she isn’t responsible for anyone else’s feelings and my intuition was that she wasn’t really feeling her own feelings at all, but was constantly doing thought work in the sense of “how do I think I should feel in this situation, and then act accordingly” instead of “how do I actually feel in this situation”. I also explained to her how disappointing herself to avoid disappointing others was a choice she was making (very similar to the coaching call you had in scholars last week) and asked her to think about the cost of doing that.

What else should I have said or asked? Its tricky because her thinking is causing her unhappiness, but the positive thought work she is trying to do isn’t creating lasting happiness for her. And since there isn’t anger or a specific issue to work through, besides asking her to sit with her feelings when she is actually with her husband and feel them, regardless of whether they are negative or positive, I wasn’t sure what else to ask her to try. I did ask her to also envision and maybe journal about what a world without her being married to her husband looked like and why that may or may not feel better to her. What am I missing here? I don’t feel like I served her enough and mostly gave her a lot more to contemplate.

I appreciate your insights – you are the QUEEN!!