If your marriage is at the brink of divorce you must be extremely unhappy and ambivalent about what you should do about your relationship—stay or leave. You may search for answers and for signs of whether or not you should continue with this relationship. I came up with three questions to ask yourself before ending your relationship that may help you “fight to the end.”
Maybe your partner once again didn’t listen to you, didn’t help out or didn’t trust you. Maybe they made you feel like a failure, or ignored you in some ways. Due to you already being upset it is fairly easy to take these behaviors as signs that you need to get out of this relationship. Unfortunately, you and I both know that making decisions when we are upset is not beneficial.
Wondering if you should end your relationship? In the most honest way possible answer these 3 questions to help you make a decision:
BEFORE ENDING YOUR RELATIONSHIP … Did You Try To Look at Your Conflict From A Different Perspective?
It is so hard to look at things from an alternative perspective—especially in the midst of the crisis. We feel exhausted, overwhelmed and hopeless while trying to fix the marriage that is falling apart. We get stuck in one way of perceiving and thinking about our partner. We make assumptions. We blame. We attack. We shut down. We disengage.
What we try to do is to actually manage our relationship distress. We all have different ways of coping when things get difficult. Some people deal with conflict by withdrawing; being emotionally and sometimes physically distant; sometimes being more quiet and reserved. Others deal with daily stresses by being more pursuing, direct and “hands on.” Could that be the case in your relationship?
What if you looked at your partner’s and your interactions in the relationship as your different ways of coping instead of his or hers one more way of hurting you and making you feel horrible.
What if you started to conceptualize the conflict between you two as a pattern, cycle, or a loop? When one pursues, the other one withdraws and vice versa. That leaves you feeling angry, hurt, alone, and that only adds to that pattern.
What if you started seeing that this pattern or cycle is the enemy in your relationship, not your partner? You and your partner are only players that “learned” to handle distress in different ways. Unfortunately, these ways of coping with stress create more distance and disconnection.
In couple’s therapy, I help couples figure out their pattern, and I help them manage it in a way that makes them feel closer and safer with one another.
BEFORE ENDING YOUR RELATIONSHIP … Did You Evaluate What Your Relationship Is Worth To You?
Most likely, even though you might be very upset with your partner, you still care about him/her. Whatever is left of your relationship is worth at least something to you.
I have no doubts that you might be saying: “I have tried everything!” or “Nothing helps!” or “This is worthless.” I also know that you ended up with your partner for a reason. Maybe he was funny and caring. Maybe she was accepting and loving.
Whatever drew you to your partner in the first place made you feel special. Maybe it is worth remembering and talking to your partner about these good things. Maybe it will be helpful to let your partner know that he/she does know how to make it all better. After all, he/she did it before! Maybe your relationship feels hopeless right now, but the value of it is priceless!
BEFORE ENDING YOUR RELATIONSHIP … Did You Give A Fair Try To Couples Counseling?
Too often couples will say to me that couples counseling is their last resort, and if that doesn’t work, they will split up. I always wonder if that means that they will put extra effort into counseling OR does it mean that they will simply show up for a few sessions so that they can say: “I tried everything and nothing helped!”
Most of the couples who I see have been struggling with some type of relationship problems for a while—usually not a month or two but a few years. Unfortunately, some couples walk in expecting almost immediate results. It will be wonderful if couples therapy was a quick and easy fix. While sometimes it can be, for most of couples it is hard work that requires commitment and motivation.
Being trained in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy I know that, depending on a case, couples start feeling some relief after about 12 sessions. If successful, those first sessions “stop the bleeding” and serve as a “bandage” to the relationship. However research has shown that in order for a couple to maintain the positive changes they have to be willing to stay a little longer in treatment to deepen and consolidate their connection. In other words, once the bleeding is stopped and the bandage is on, the wound still has to heal. I encourage couples to stick around in order to solidify their connection.
Try answering these three questions as honestly as you can and preferably when you are not in any emotional crisis. Write down your answers and come back to them at the times when you are feeling discouraged. Keep fighting for your relationship and don’t make decisions that you may regret later.