“This isn’t the life I signed up for.” “She is not the person I thought she was.” “I’m not in love with him anymore.” “We never have sex.” “We argue all the time.” “She spends too much money.” “I don’t like how he handles the kids.” “She doesn’t support me.” “He doesn’t help me.” “She doesn’t clean the house enough.” “He cheated.” “She lied.” “He's a drunk.” “She is a pothead.” “My mother hates her.” “My father thinks he is a loser.” “He works too much.” The list goes on and on. If only life was as easy as a Kenny Rogers song.
Relationships are complicated. Even at their best. Love is beautiful and heartbreaking, sometimes at the same time. So when the going gets tough, should you go or should you stay? That answer will be different for everyone, at the Y in the road you could choose either path. I think the answer to this question lies in whether or not there is a commitment for change.
The onus of a failing relationship doesn’t typically land on one person. There is usually a matrix of concerns that has led to the fall. Human nature lends to putting blame on one person versus the other because it's easier that way. In reality, it's much more complex than blaming one individual in the relationship. We all like to believe we are right and they are wrong but that usually isn’t the case. On a very serious note, it's important to point out that if you are in a domestic violence situation, physical abuse is a deal breaker. If you are in a relationship with someone who is physically abusing you, finding an immediate safe exit strategy is vital. Everything else can potentially be worked out if there is a motivation and desire for change. With that said some people may also have other deal breakers. Many people feel that addictions and infidelity are unrecoverable acts. Only you know where you stand on the various concerns that impact your relationship. Many couples have successfully overcome these problems together and moved on to have healthy fulfilling relationships together. So when you come to the Y, how do you decide if it's time to walk away?
Take Time to Reflect.
Deep introspective reflection. The kind that takes time and energy. How committed are you to this relationship and how committed do you want to be? Are the transgressions that have occurred in the relationship something you can move past or are the problems you are having with your partner too complex and difficult for you to forgive and work through?
Only, you have these answers. Given the same scenario someone else would feel differently than you so you have to reflect on what you want for you. Noone else will have this answer. Don’t look at your friends and family to help you make the decision. Everyone has an opinion and the answer you need is not going to come from them. They will share with you their thoughts and feelings but ultimately they are probably only hearing your version of the situation. Please don’t misunderstand, using your people as a sounding board can be incredibly cathartic and very helpful in stress relief but making your decision based on their opinions may not lead you down the right path for you. Their interest is in you and they are going to be partial to your feelings and are not necessarily looking at the bigger picture of the relationship. There are a few caveats here, if you know the relationship is over and you need support, discussing with family and friends is very important. It will help you discover who will provide vital support during the transition in the next phase of your life. You may possibly need financial support through that change so discussing with family members is also important for this reason. You may want to feel out who is going to be by your side during this stressful process.
Journal, take walks, meditate, cry. Do whatever you need to do, to help you clear your mind to decide what you want to have happen in this relationship. These are your thoughts, not what you think your partner wants. That comes next.
Communicate with Your Partner
Now that you feel more confident in what you want, communicate with your partner. Plan a time that is good for both of you to be open to the important discussion of your relationship. It’s important to schedule this conversation, you don’t want to catch your partner off guard. This can cause them to immediately clam up. You want it to be a time so that you can sit down and be vulnerable with each other. This is not appropriate while the kids are banging on the door or running around the house. Walking in the door from work is also probably not a good time. Everyone is potentially still carrying the burdens from the day. There isn’t going to be a perfect time, these conversations can be difficult, so plan what you think will work best and put it on the schedule.
Also, take notes to bring to the discussion. Try not to make it a list of grievances. You want to be positive but also honest about how you are feeling and what about the relationship you would like to be different. Discuss the real pros and cons of continuing the relationship versus ending it and moving on. If you are married these are very difficult conversations to have. But they still need to be had. Having your partner served with divorce papers without having discussions with them (this has happened) is definitely a way to start divorce proceedings off very negatively. Also, some people only change in the ninth inning. If you have a little fight left, give them the ninth. You are still married after all. Divorce is hard too.
If you know for sure it’s over communicate that. Be firm. Breaking up is heartbreaking but worse yet if you lead someone on that you know you do not want to be with. Be honest. If you know it’s over, it's over. Set clear boundaries and expectations on how you plan to move forward.
Consider a Therapist or a Life Coach
Relationships are incredible and fulfilling but also difficult to navigate sometimes. Love and connection strategies are wonderful but sometimes you need a little more support than self help workbooks and fun bonding activities. Consider hiring professionals if you are really struggling. Therapists are trained to be impartial and will help you navigate the many complexities of interacting with someone else. They won’t judge you and have already helped many couples before you. There tends to be patterns in relationships and they will help you to identify yours. This will help you get back on track together or assist you to make a healthy break if that is the path you choose.
In the end whichever path you choose is yours for the choosing. Take your time and make thoughtful decisions because this is your journey, your happiness and your life. Wishing you all the best as you come to the Ys on your road.
Until Next Time,
If you are looking for a therapist you can go to Psychologytoday.com to help you find one that will be a good fit for you.
If you are looking for self help and bonding activities check out TheBondedBox.com and their curated collection of Intimacy Experiences