Seize the Freedom to Be Who You Are

Jul 9, 2021

In many divorces I have mediated, one or both spouses talk about feeling trapped in a marriage.

Perhaps you are feeling that you’ve been unable to pursue an opportunity and have lost ground in your quest for enrichment or fulfillment.

I often wonder how much of what is being experienced by a “trapped” spouse is related to questions about identity. Do you feel that your marriage is preventing you from continuing a journey to be who you want to be, and to be seen by others as the person you truly are?

Unfortunately, when you are not seen by your spouse the way you want to be seen, this can affect self-esteem and create a sense of unhappiness. You turn both inward into yourself and outward into questioning the future of the marriage.

This circumstance may be resolved by the spouses through counseling or other processes that can help save a marriage. And yes, mediation itself can be a very effective way for couples to take a future focus that includes keeping your relationship intact. But if issues are not resolved, the marriage will usually end.

Divorce inevitably involves a sense of loss, pain and, often, other emotions that are associated with uncertainty (fear and anger, to name two).

If you are leaving a marriage out of a sense of being trapped in an unhappy situation, this is an opportunity to consider what to do with the freedom that is associated with not being stuck, at last!

At the same time, if you are leaving a marriage out of a sense of being trapped in an unhappy situation, this is an opportunity to consider what to do with the freedom that is associated with not being stuck, at last! Who is the person you really want to be? How do you want to be seen by others? What will it take in personal terms—whether it be education, job change, new living situation, etc.—to achieve your desired identity?

The end of a chapter may include regret; the beginning of a new chapter can also bring promise and hope. A good starting point in the transition between chapters is to focus on who you are and who you want to be, and then be that person.