Marriage – Divorce, Separate or Return to Love

Photo by Sharon Goodyear

Marital Happiness CAN Last!

A recent article in the Huffington Post, To Divorce or Separate: The Experts Weigh In , focused on the news that Couteney Cox and David Arquette are separating, not divorcing, after 11 years of marriage. In my counseling practice, I have recently discovered that many baby boomers are dissatisfied with their marriages. Some are handling their uncomfortable feelings by getting involved with someone outside the marriage, in other words, having an extramarital affair. Others have abruptly moved out (after 20 or even 30 years of marriage), leaving a note and having their spouse served with divorce papers.

The public has gotten used to celebrity split ups, but usually there is so much drama, somebody doing somebody else “wrong,” somebody blatantly cheating, somebody requiring inpatient rehab for substance abuse or sexual philandering, or for being physically abusive. We tend to have difficulty dealing with the gray areas. We want it all to be put into a simple framework so that in our own lives we can know with some certainty what we would need to do in similar circumstances.

Over the years, the original purpose, goal and dream for our relationship will inevitably change. Our relationships do not always fit into nice neat boxes and definite patterns. In previous generations there were some standard rules and roles for marriage. The man had the provider role and the woman had the homemaker role. There was very little acceptable choice. Each knew their role and lived together, often in a state of ”quiet desperation.”

Times are different now. Roles are not so clearly defined. Women are succeeding in the working environment and men are often more involved with homemaking and childcare details. Online social media sites, pornography, and exotic dance clubs are inviting men and women to focus their erotic attention and emotional attachments outside of their marriage. Baby boomers, especially the lead group, have experienced a period of free love, financial well being, and the expectancy of a life filled with sensual pleasure, enjoyment, and financial comfort.

There seems to be a general angst in society at this time. The media portrays intense and vibrant sexuality at a time when the baby boomer sandwich generation (dealing with aging parents and child rearing) is feeling stress, anxiety and daily pressure. Many wonder what happened to that free love and creative expression that once filled their lives.

Being together with another person, day in and day out , with all the details of life, can pay a toll on any intimate relationship. Dealing with financial, emotional, sexual, spiritual, mental, and creative needs and demands as well as responding to the influences of often well-meaning family, friends, colleagues and the media, can definitely influence, affect and destroy even the most intimate relationship.

Many of us were never given the tools or the training required to muster through the difficult times, to hold a vision of what we truly want in a relationship, and to love and receive love. The easy solution is to divorce and move on. Separation can be more difficult because we don’t have that sense of finality. However, staying in the limbo of separation can give couples the space they need to heal their own selves and enough closeness to remain connected. The love can be rekindled over time. Or, with enough time and space, they can freely decide that the relationship is best severed.

Are you struggling with a decision: Should I stay, should I go, should we separate, or should I file for divorce now? Are you wondering, Is that all there is to my life? Stop worrying and contact me now for a private, personal appointment. Let me help you think more clearly and decide what to do. Schedule a private and discrete phone session.

Please enjoy this poignant poem by one of my favorite poets, Kahlil Gibran. If you follow what he is saying, it won’t really matter if you spend time apart from you partner. That could be just the “winds of heaven dancing between you.” My preference, of course, is for you to thrive within a marriage that is filled with open communication, loving tenderness and intimate connection. But if your marriage has been faltering, there are options that don’t require the finality of divorce. Spending even a brief period of time apart from your partner might reveal to you that the grass is not only not greener but it is brown and burnt out there in the real world.


You were born together, and together you shall be for evermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness.
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

— Khalil Gibran




1 D James Rice { 12.03.10 at 10:17 pm }

I say before divorce you should make every effort to return to love.
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2 Dr. Erica Goodstone { 12.04.10 at 5:15 am }

DJ, I agree with you. Just read the article you mention. It has many good suggestions. However, clients often come to me for counseling after so many years of unhappiness that it can be quite a challenge to bring back the love and passion – but it is possible if both people make the personal effort and have the desire.

3 Val Wilcox { 12.20.10 at 10:02 pm }

Lots of good points here. Staying together is preferable, but you’ve also given some resources for those who are better off not. It’s a tough call and each relationship is unique in the reasons why. Glad you’re there to support those who need an unbiased voice.

Val 🙂
Know Your Personality –

4 Dr. Erica Goodstone { 12.22.10 at 2:22 am }

So true that each relationship is unique. None of us can really tell someone else what is best for them. There are issues and circumstances we may not understand.