Lame Duck Marriage

Lame Duck Congress
Lame Duck Congress (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

We are now in the lame duck season of congress where the elections are over yet the newly elected do yet occupy their seats. It is strange time where focus shifts and both power and repercussions are reduced. It can be an uneventful waiting period or an enthused dash to create change prior to one’s exit without the fear of reelection influencing decisions.

I’ve had discussions with several married people recently who seem to be in a lame duck session within their marriages. They are in the between – waiting in the space bookended by the past and the future. Perhaps one or both partners does not see themselves as reelected for the next term so they are simply biding their time. Maybe one partner desperately want action yet is fighting the sluggish nature of the other who not committed to an additional stint of marriage. It is natural for relationships to ebb and flow, to encounter both periods of growth and times of stagnation. In a lame duck marriage, the stagnation has become a way of being.

We often think of lame duck sessions as a negative event, a wasted waiting period before the congress can get down to business. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. There are benefits to the lame duck season in Washington that can also apply to flat and lifeless marriages. This is not advice to leave or stay in a lame duck marriage. Rather, it is designed to give you perspective that can help you make the best decision for you and your family.

Take Risks

In congress, some retiring members try to push through controversial or challenging legislation that would be inadvisable when they are concerned about reelection. There is freedom that can be found in the realization that you are not operating out of fear for the future. Try something new. Take risks. You know what happens when you do or think the same old way. What you don’t know is the response to something different.

Release Control

One of the most frustrating parts of this time in Washington is that it can be almost impossible to rally the troops around a cause. Lame duck marriage are similar. If you want the marriage to work and your spouse is ready to end his or her term, you will most likely find it impossible to rally your partner to save the marriage. If you are walking towards the door and your spouse wants another term, you will likely find him or her stubbornly digging in the heels. You cannot control your partner. You can; however, choose your actions, thoughts, and responses. You may find that you have more influence by treading softly and encouraging than by being loud and resistant.


Inevitably, congress gets to November and has more to discuss than there are hours available. They have to begin their final session for the year by prioritizing concerns. In a declining marriage, it is all too easy to become buried in issues. Sort out the ones that really matter and focus on those first. Ignore the secondary concerns; they are simply clutter.


The government’s lame duck session has a defined end. That deadline prompts action. Remaining inactive in your marriage is a decision in itself, a choice to do nothing. If you had a deadline, what would it change? Would you make a different choice? A lame duck is not a dead duck, but if you let it linger it will suffer and slowly deteriorate.

Don’t let yourself be like a retiring congressman simply passing away the hours until January; choose to be an active participant in your life. And, if you have any tips on nursing a lame duck back to health, make sure to pass them along:)



Thank you for sharing!

10 thoughts on “Lame Duck Marriage

  1. smoothreentry – Bible Belt USA – I am going through a mid-life renascence, having recently reentered the world of dating after a 20 year marriage. I write about whatever is on my mind in a given day.
    smoothreentry says:

    I resemble this.

  2. Lisa, Great book. I just finished reading and could relate to many of your husband’s characteristics. This past summer, I had my own adventure into deceit as my husband was caught (by me) attaining prostitutes and telling a multitude of lies. Although I am still in my marriage, I was awoken to how very uncareful women can be. (The second wife traveled with him after he took out a life insurance policy on her and was caught practcing her name????) You are strong; I am not. With a young daughter, I am not sure I can make it out of this marriage. I did learn, however, that my husband will not stop lying. It is simply ingrained in him. As I contemplate these facts, I am disheartened about what an undertaking this may be. Oh, I am also very curious about who exactly (name) your ex is and who the new wife is too! My Google searches have been unsuccessful. It is curious how you managed to hide his identity, especially since he was arrested. My best to you.

    1. You are stronger than you realize. Often the biggest lie we tell ourselves is “I can’t.” But we are capable of so much if we can learn to release the fear and take the first step. Sometimes it best to look at only a piece of the journey at a time when the entire undertaking is too difficult to contemplate.

      As for his identity, my post “Who Is He?” discusses why I have chosen not to reveal his name. As for searches, I simply changed the names of everyone other than myself and I changed the location of his wedding and subsequent arrest.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing:) I wish you the best.


  3. Lame duck marriage! What a great way to put it! My nine-year-old marriage is there right now. I feel like I’ve been treading water for a couple years now, waiting for something to change. (Eventually… something always does!)

    I guess I imagined either something horrible and definitive would wind up bringing it all to a head, or somehow it would all begin to turn around. What I think really happened is that I got tired. Now I’m doing the dead-man-float, I guess.

    I have no more will to roll up my sleeves and get in there and head-on tackle it all. I can’t bring myself to read any more marriage books or websites or hire any more babysitters so we can look awkwardly at everything but each other and make small talk…. I can’t bring myself to try to pretend I enjoy sex with him, either! So I think now we’re *both* just waiting for something to change. It IS oddly freeing. I plow ahead with my life, my education, my plans– some long-deferred, begin to seriously imagine a future that’s less US and more HIM and ME, separate people, you know, maybe even with separate homes and bank accounts.

    Who knows, maybe that’ll actually turn out be just the ticket. Weirder things have certainly happened. I think that’s why I’ve come to resent “marriage books” so much– they can’t account for the “X factor!”

    Your story is so fascinating! I can’t imagine what must have gone through your ex’s mind when he went down this crazy path. Affairs/divorce/remarriages are common as dandelions anymore– hardly anyone judges them all that harshly, even in my backwards little social circle, provided you stick with the new squeeze for more than a few years. So it seems to me like it couldn’t have entirely been social stigma keeping him from playing it more-or-less above-board.

    I wonder if he must have still loved you, in his way, to try to keep all the plates spinning convincingly! but how insanely exhausting.

    Glad things have worked out well for you!

    1. I’m glad the analogy hit home for you although I am sorry to hear that you are in that place. I’m glad to hear that you are moving ahead with your dreams:)

      Social stigma – that’s an interesting one! Obviously, I have spent quite a bit of time wondering “why,” but that one never even crossed my mind. Of course, the social stigma of bigamy is even worse:)

  4. Right! ha! That didn’t work out for him at all. What a risky play!

    So strange to try to get into his head. I mean, plenty of people just get bored or depressed with their marriages and have affairs. They don’t end their marriages because… well, finances or extended family or kids or maybe they even still at least like their spouses and are just looking to scratch an itch for awhile! Or the affair even becomes a soft place to land while the marriage winds down.

    But taking it as far as bigamy! That takes some crazyass dedication. How long did he ever think it could last?

    I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you, to go from “loving husband” to WTFFFFF???????

    Anyway, past is past! Glad you found a good guy and are flourishing now. That’s the happy ending the whole story needed.

    1. I don’t think he was thinking. I think he was very lost and very broken. It’s taken me a long time to release the anger enough to see that, but it feels right. In the end, I’ll never know.

      And, yes, past is past and I love my present:)


  5. There is no period in a marriage that is analogous to Nov-Jan for a retiring Senator. If you’re going to compare marriage to a government role it would have to be that of a Supreme Court justice. A lifetime appointment. And even that is an awkward analogy. Marriage is a commitment between two people to co-pilot a life together (and often a family together). Rather than rationalizing and justifying the dissolution of marriages, let’s talk about what marriage means (commitment, communication, compassion) and teach people to go into it with their eyes wide open. Fewer people would get married in the first place and fewer children would be traumatized by the breakups of their families over which they had zero control or say. What a legacy of pain we’re perpetrating on the next generation.

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