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Rx Divorce: How Thought Experiments Can Open Your Eyes

Would you advise your child to stay in an unsatisfying marriage?

Key points

  • Most people lack the ability to see their circumstances, which makes thought experiments powerful and eye-opening.
  • Thought experiments can teach people that their greatest source of wisdom is inside themselves.
  • Consulting inner wisdom reveals an individual's power and freedom to live life on their own terms.

Should I get a divorce? Is it time to file? Should I talk to an attorney? These kinds of questions can be confusing and threatening to the mind in how they suggest an utter disruption of our lives. Thankfully, there is a way to know the answers to these kinds of questions, and guess what… the answer is not in any religious book. It is not in the mind of any religious leader. Not even your mom knows. Maybe your psychic knows, but hey, that lady is expensive!

Tachina Lee/Unsplash
Source: Tachina Lee/Unsplash

Look Inside Yourself

Instead of looking in the heads of psychics, family members, or religious leaders, it’s best to look inside yourself. A great way to do this is by conducting thought experiments.

What's Einstein Got to Do With It?

In creating the theory of relativity, Albert Einstein (certified genius) conducted Gedankenexperiments or “thought experiments” to prove whether or not atoms existed. Thought experiments are based on reason and imagination rather than actual experiments. When it comes to our relationships, we can all conduct powerful and eye-opening thought experiments in the privacy of our own minds.

Here's one most people in troubled relationships find pretty easy: Imagine that your current marriage has produced a lovely daughter who is now an adult. You notice that she is in a relationship as profoundly dissatisfying as your own. What would you advise your adult child to do? Should she stay or should she go?

Be Honest With Yourself

Even the most confused people find this thought experiment pretty straightforward because when we replace ourselves with an adult child we love, the situation becomes much less confusing.

If you think about it, you'll realize that, as in any good experiment, you've only changed one variable: You've swapped out your confused self and brought in someone you love without reservation and voilà! All of a sudden you can see, with perfect clarity, that you would never recommend your relationship to anyone you loved.

Open Your Eyes

Most people lack the ability to see their circumstances. This is one of the advantages of talking to a therapist who puts your wellbeing ahead of all others. If you, or your adult child, are miserable in your relationship and your spouse believes everything's great or not so bad, whose welfare should you be looking out for? (Hint: not your spouse.)

Encountering a Troll

I recently received a social media comment from a troll regarding one of my Psychology Today posts that suggested we put human beings ahead of awful marriages. Here's what the troll said—just as it was written (yikes!):

"I highly encourage you to repent to God for teaching against his Word. After sometime yes, physical abuse the Lord would never want His people to stay but His word teaches only in adultery does He approve. If you're claiming to be a Christian and teaching this I pray that you stop this demonic garbage and teach according to God's will and commands. Should you reject that path, I am warning you that your judgment will be just in the hands of Jesus."

Troll Logic

Our troll appears to be saying that if you would encourage your adult child to leave a physically abusive spouse you had better do it only after an appropriate length of time (heaven knows how long that is) and even then, the Almighty won't exactly approve of it because the only escape clause to the marital contract is, wait for it, proof of adultery!

Welcome to Hell?

In this troll's mind, encouraging people to leave toxic marriages and live happier, healthier, and safer lives is "demonic garbage." This sort of logic is enough to make you swear Gedankenexperiment! Gedankenexperiment—the very sound of which implies God might frown on the practice of thinking. But if you try thinking and you engage in a thought experiment involving how you'd advise your beloved adult child then, all of a sudden, the rigidity of the troll above doesn't sound like wisdom at all does it?

The Real Hell

Trollish thinking would mean you should stay with the man abusing your kids. A troll wants you to stay with the spouse who's gambled the family into poverty. A troll sighs and says he feels for you but that you should stay with the career criminal who promised they'd go straight once you got married. You have to, you see, because, well, there's no evidence of adultery.

Leave the Trolls Under the Bridge

If you want to manage your sexuality intelligently, ignore the trolls and try a thought experiment. You might find out that you (not religion, not family, not psychics) are the greatest source of wisdom about your life. You—yes, you—have the power and freedom to live the life you want and deserve. And why should it be any other way? You're the only one who really knows, really cares, and really has to live your one and only life.