50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

by | Jun 22, 2024

The Simon and Garfunkel song, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, makes it sound easy to end a relationship. As the lyrics say, “Just make a new plan, Stan, and get yourself free.” But it’s much more complicated than that, especially if you’re in a marriage and have children.


If you are contemplating ending your marriage, you are no doubt experiencing a whole host of feelings, from sorrow and heartache to anguish and anger. You are probably mourning what you expected your life to have been. Divorce is the death of your future as you imagined it. No wonder you are grieving, fearful, angry, or feeling a gamut of emotions.

Marriage Counseling, Relationships Therapy, Couples



The one feeling most women feel is guilt, whether they’re at fault or not. Many women have been raised to believe they should sacrifice their own needs for the good of the family. They feel guilty for even wanting to be free of their husbands, even when those men cheat or are abusive or otherwise brutal to live with. It’s how women have been socialized.


A friend, Brenda, suffered from an abusive husband who had caused her great emotional damage. He was so detrimental to her emotional health that her physical health deteriorated as well. The stress under which she operated was palpable. Still, she was reluctant to leave. She didn’t want to feel guilty in case she wasn’t doing enough to salvage the marriage. And she already felt guilty about the effects a divorce would have on her children. Brenda even contemplated postponing the divorce for years until her children were older and emotionally stable enough to take the blow. Meanwhile, she endured real hardship.


But she couldn’t seem to extricate herself. Brenda bent over backwards to accommodate her husband to ensure that there was nothing more she could do to save the marriage. The fact was that her marriage was long over, even as her husband continued to make her life miserable, heaping abuse upon abuse. It was over because he continued to gaslight, belittle, and manipulate her, all to make her feel bad and himself feel good. He had given up treating her with any humanity, and he had therefore given up on the marriage. He had, in essence, already left the marriage. It was now up to Brenda to end it. Without any guilt.




When Brenda had finally exhausted every avenue in trying to save her marriage, she began to imagine a new life for herself. How would she support herself and her children? How would she manage as a single mother? What could she do to shore up her financial stability? How could she ensure her children’s need were met, financially and emotionally? As the song says, she made a new plan, Stan. She consulted with financial and child psychology experts. When she was ready, she still felt it was difficult to say the divorce word out loud. It took courage.


Once her children knew divorce was inevitable, they accepted it with grace. Her youngest child was shocked at first but came to understand things were going to be okay. Her eldest child wondered why her parents hadn’t divorced years before.


And for Brenda herself? Once she had made the decision to divorce, she felt a great sense of relief and even empowerment. It took a while for her to regain her equilibrium, but eventually, she developed an inner voice to quell her feelings of doubt and failure and guilt. She made a new plan, Stan, and got herself free.



Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact



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