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Roxy Jacenko chose to stay married. Because marriage is a choice you have to keep making.

Roxy Jacenko kissed another man while she was married. The man was her ex boyfriend, Nabil Gazal and her husband Oliver Curtis, was in jail at the time. The fling – if you can call it that – was captured by prying paparazzi and covered breathlessly by the media.

Hold fire. Hold judgement. There’s more.

This week, in an interview with news.com.au Jacenko confirmed that at the time of the fling, she believed her marriage was over. “I’d spoken to a lawyer about divorce, and he knew that, I’d told him” she said, adding that she “didn’t think there was any hope” for their five year marriage to be saved. Even without the unimaginable pressure of a high profile insider trading case that dragged on for the duration of their marriage and culminated with Curtis being found guilty, even without the year long jail sentence he received, even without the breast cancer Jacenko was diagnosed with several months after Curtis was imprisoned, even without the constant attention that comes with being a celebrity, even without the demands of being a single mother of two, even without the financial pressure of running your own business… marriages fail.

Listen: Roxy Jacenko spoke to Mia Freedman while her husband was in jail. (Post continues…)

People fall out of love. Paths diverge. Wants and needs evolve and not always together. More than one in three Australian marriages end in divorce.

In most cases, infidelity is a symptom of an unhappy relationship not a cause of it, according to experts. Speaking to Psychology Tomorrow magazine, relationship and sex therapist Alyssa Siegel says, “Probably the most commonly cited cause of infidelity is a sense of emotional disconnection from a partner. The person committing the infidelity will often describe having felt unappreciated, lonely, and sad. These emotions can often lead to the secondary feelings of anger and resentment. Emotional roots can lead to affairs both emotional and physical in nature. An emotional affair may start off looking like a friendship, but over time the level of intimacy increases and more personal information, especially that relating to dissatisfaction and unhappiness in their primary relationship, can become an integral part of the dynamic. The ‘friend’ begins to take on the role as the partner, becoming a substitute in thoughts, plans, and fantasies.”

It happens. It happened to Roxy Jacenko who describes her marriage as ‘challenging’. That’s a fair description of any marriage, really. Even those far less fraught than hers.  “We were at each other’s throats, so when he went for 12 months, I set up a life for myself and the children and that was it” she told news.com.au. “I thought that would be the end of it [marriage]. He [Ollie] knew that as well. He didn’t want his marriage to end, but he was aware of the circumstances and that it hadn’t been easy.”

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Here’s the thing that Roxy and many of us have discovered: being married in a choice. You make that choice when you decide to get married but that’s not the end of it. To stay in any successful relationship, you must keep choosing to stay together.

When you smell like a rotten egg from cleaning your building facade all day and open a door to …..

A post shared by Roxy Jacenko (@roxyjacenko) on

As I wrote in the chapter of my book Work Strife Balance about my own marriage breakdown:

“Marriage is a choice. Not just when you say yes to a proposal or make your vows but every day thereafter. Well, not every day. Many, many days in your marriage just pass uneventfully without consequence. But there will be times when you must actively make the decision to stay married. Times when you meet someone who isn’t your spouse who you’re attracted to or have chemistry with. Times when things are bleak between the two of you and you wonder if you can even climb back out of the hole. Times when the vicious cycle of your arguments feels like it can never be broken. Times when you can either go to counselling or not. Times when you can work on yourself to address the issues contributing to your relationship problems or . . . not. Times when one of you is going through a challenge with mental or physical health.

Like dental work, servicing a car or having great hair, you’re never finished fine-tuning and maintaining your relationship. We’re all a work in progress.”

In her interview, Jacenko reveals that she didn’t know if her marriage would survive and she didn’t really expect it to. She describes the awkwardness of being together again after Curtis’s release and how it was not an automatic guarantee of reconciliation.

“I didn’t think we’d stay together and that’s the reality,” she said. But when her husband asked her to choose to be married again (quite literally asked her in a very Instagram-fabulous proposal complete with extravagant displays of flowers, champagne, balloons and bling), Roxy chose to say yes.

“My life is completely different,” she told news.com.au. “I went from being very depressed … now, I am very focused on my work, my children are happy and I’m happy. The chapter is closed.”

Listen: Cameron Daddo on getting therapy and couples therapy with Alison Brahe. (Post continues…)

Except it isn’t really. No marriage is a done deal. No adult relationship is unconditional. You still need to choose to stay together and decide whether you can commit to whatever that requires. It might be compromise or rehab or counselling. It might be modifying the way you communicate or having sex more (or less) often than you feel like.

There is no such thing as a ‘right’ choice when it comes to marriage. Nobody should ever stay married at all costs just to avoid divorce. Sometimes, often, ending a relationship can be the best thing for one or both parties. But if you do want to stay together, remember you have to actively choose to be with one another along the way. Long after you’ve moved in together or exchanged rings and paid the wedding band, you’ll need to make a choice. Over and over again.

To say, I do want to be with this person. Because staying together doesn’t happen automatically.

To purchase Mia Freedman’s latest book, Work Strife Balance, click here.

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