When It's Time to Leave a Relationship
Myra Tillotson Nuriddin: "Seven years of invisibility piled up"
Myra was 47 years old and divorced when she met Sulaiman, a man who had 10 children from three previous relationships. Myra, mother to a grown son, and Sulaiman eventually said their "I dos." Their decision not to invite all of Sulaiman's children to the wedding backfired, and Myra's relationship with her stepchildren suffered. Tension built up for years, and Myra often felt disrespected and resented by Sulaiman's children. "But if I brought it up with Sulaiman, he'd say, 'Don't play children's games—you'll never win,'" Myra says.
One Christmas Eve, Myra invited all of Sulaiman's children over for dinner. After a full day of cooking, her stepchildren trickled in more than an hour late. Angry and hurt, Myra remembers Sulaiman's oldest son walking right past her when he finally arrived for dinner. "Seven years of painful invisibility piled up into that one moment, and I lost it," Myra says.
After confronting Sulaiman with her concerns, she found a therapist who suggested that she and Sulaiman try an Imago workshop focusing on couples and communication. At the workshop, they learned how to "mirror" each other. "When I'm angry, Sulaiman repeats what I'm saying to him before he responds. That calms me instantly," Myra says.
The Imago method has also helped work things out with her stepchildren. For their 10th wedding anniversary, Myra and Sulaiman renewed their vows. "All the kids were invited," Myra says. "When I first said 'I do' to Sulaiman, I thought it was just the two of us. This second time around, I knew it was actually 13."
Next: The jolt that turned one woman's fighting relationship around