For spouses married a number of years, their identity may be as a “husband” or “wife” – a “provider” or “homemaker.” The loneliness experienced upon divorce is tinged with feeling lost. This also may be significant for a noncustodial parent, for whom parenting is a major source of self-esteem. They left home or their college roommate for a marriage or romantic partner.The relationship helped them leave home – physically.Money binds couples, too, especially in a bad economy.
One man was too afraid and guilt-ridden to leave his ill wife (11 years his senior).
His ambivalence made him so distressed, he died before she did!
Some even worry their spouse may harm him or herself.
Battered women may stay out of fear of retaliation should they leave.
Denial of problems, including addiction, is another reason why people can get stuck in a relationship.
They may rationalized, minimize, or excuse their partner’s behavior and cling to hope or occasional “good times” or expressions of love. “if only” often, denying their own pain, which might motivate them to get help and change.
Whereas women tend to have girlfriends in whom they confide and are usually closer with their parents, traditionally, men focus on work, but disregard their emotional needs and rely exclusively on their wife for support.
Yet, both men and women often neglect developing individual interests.
Going through divorce or separation brings with it all of the unfinished work of becoming an independent “adult.” Fears about leaving their spouse and children may be reiterations of the fears and guilt that they would have had upon separating from their parents, which were avoided by quickly getting into a relationship or marriage.