Unfortunately, some relationships that start off strong don’t always withstand the test of time. If you are at the point in your relationship where you are wanting out, consider whether there is any possibility that the relationship is still workable. Many couples have survived difficulties; everything from boredom to infidelity. If your partner is willing to process through issues and make changes, ask yourself whether you have done the work before walking away. Have you discussed things with your partner and given them the opportunity to try to make things better? Have you taken responsibility for what you are bringing to the table, and are you willing to make changes? Have you gone to therapy or couples counseling to learn better communication skills and assess your options? We tend to repeat what we don’t fully understand. In other words, if you don’t process through your issues now, you might end up in the same place in your next relationship.
Staying in a relationship that is loveless because you are afraid to hurt your partner is, ultimately, a selfish act. By staying you are actually preventing your partner from their right to get over you and find the love they deserve. You are stopping them from finding the person who can give them the type of relationship that you cannot. If they would prefer to stay with you and accept a loveless relationship, perhaps their issues need to be addressed. Their self-esteem may have even contributed to the difficulties in the relationship. Ask yourself whether you have added to those feelings of inadequacy or whether you have done your best to help your partner. Addressing these issues openly may be the catalyst to finding the help your partner needs to grow and heal, with or without you.
Ending a marriage can be a far more complicated break than dating or living together. If young children are involved that decision becomes more complex. Staying for the children can have merit, but often it is a rationale that couples hide behind. All children will have their feelings and are effected by divorce. However, very few children are profoundly or permanently effected by divorce, especially when their relationship with their individual parents continue beyond the physical separation. Remember, you do not divorce your children. Children who grow up with disassociated parents or parents who are always fighting can be worse off than the children of divorce. Question what you are modeling for your children if you are willing to sacrifice your happiness, and what pressure that puts on them. How you handle the subject of the relationship ending can determine their path for healthy healing.
Many people end up staying in relationships for financial reasons; primarily the cost of living separately. In truth, most couples can afford to live apart, although perhaps not in the same manner that they are currently. The issue comes down to what is more important in your life and what aspect of yourself are you being true to. If you are staying in a relationship because you don’t want to live in a studio apartment or without a flat-screen, what does that say about your relationship… or you? Many people don’t want to compromise their income as would be required in a divorce settlement, and end up living in a highly stressful situation; as platonic roommates. It is time for a check of your values if you are more concerned about your checking account than the emotional wellbeing of you and your partner.
Fantasies of being single are almost always overrated. Few single people will tell you that the dating world is fun. For most it is a means to an end. Dating in your adult years is also very different than dating in your youth. People have more history, more baggage, more commitments and obligations. Research reveals that married folk have more sex than single folk. So don’t end a relationship because you think that it is going to be fun and games out there. You should only consider ending a relationship if the idea of being single and alone for a good long time is a preferable option to staying in your relationship.
Yes, many couples have found richer, fuller relationships the second or even third time around, and you shouldn’t stay where you are miserable. However, be realistic about life after a break up, including that your partner may find love before you.
If all roads lead you to the same conclusion, then it is probably time to take an action. Prolonging the inevitable is poor planning. Be gentle with your partner, even if they have caused you pain. Anger is a bonding emotion. If you are still harboring anger or rage, then you cannot have closure. Sadness will fade over time, hurt will subside, and getting started on a healthier life can begin. Your serenity and your healing might be contingent on forgiveness and a clear conscious. If you are having trouble with your on-going feelings, spend some time and energy on yourself. Remember that it is healthy to take good care of one’s self, which is very different than being selfish. So take a deep breath, know that you have done all the work you can, and take the next step toward your future.
Leslie Fabian is a NYS licensed Individuals and Couples Psychotherapist with over 22 years of private practice. Leslie Fabian, MSW, LCSW, The Lighthouse Retreat and Wellness Center in Croton on Hudson, 24 East 12th St., New York, NY, [email protected] hotmail.com, 917-620-0524.
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