The decision to stay in or leave a relationship. Is it really over?
“Is our relationship really over?” or “Might we be able to make it work again?” These are questions often heard by our team. Clients who present for psychotherapy or mediation frequently ask for advice on this issue.
Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer that will end this difficult dilemma. However, there are some points to consider which may help you move along the decision making process.
This short article considers some of the emotional issues that play a part in deciding whether to stay or leave a relationship.
1) Is there any form of abuse? If there is, why have you remained in the relationship? Do you need help in breaking away? What action do you need to take to enable your physical and/or emotional safety?
2) Is the relationship just in a bad place? It is normal to sail into stormy waters at times. Danger signals arise when there are many more bad than good times? Ask yourself how serious your feelings are right now? Would you feel so angry with or disconnected from your partner if they returned from work today and told you they had a terminal illness?
3) Are you both wanting to save the relationship? If the answer is ‘No’, there is little point in trying to work on it. Both parties must be truly motivated to successfully rekindle a relationship. A one-sided wish to remain in relationship produces increased heartache and extended distress for both parties.
4) Do you still feel able to trust your partner? Can you trust them with the things that matter to you? Can you adopt cautious trust? There must be a genuine commitment made to putting aside past events however painful this process is.
When ‘letting go of past hurts’ you must also promise yourself that you will take sensible precautions, rather than engage in paranoid behaviour, to ensure that you do not allow yourself to be severely let down or cheated by your partner in the future.
5) Are you still able to communicate together? Do you end up feeling really angry when you do try to talk? Can you really listen to and hear your partner’s feelings or is your own agenda getting in the way?
If both of you are committed to the relationship but keep having conversation ‘cross ups’, a communication seminar for couples might help sort out this difficult area.
6) Do you still respect your partner? You don’t have to love or even like them right now but it is vital that you still respect them as a person. If the respect has gone, it will be almost impossible to kick start the relationship again.
7) Do you still find your partner attractive? Is the spark still there? If not why not? Has your mojo disappeared because of the other factors that feel wrong? If you are able to improve other areas, it is highly likely that intimacy will return and possibly be better than before.
8) Are your life goals similar? Do you share the same plans and dreams?
It is useful to bear in mind that close relationships need the following ingredients to work well; respect, trust, communication, intimacy and shared goals.
To continue or end your relationship is a hard decision. There are normally many factors that couples must consider. Decisions regarding children, finances and property are crucially important. These usually arise after the emotional decision making process has taken place.
It is interesting to observe that many couples spend a considerable period thinking about practical and legal matters. However, they frequently pass through the emotional decision making process extremely quickly, often largely unconsciously. High emotions frequently produce rash decisions, a period of reflection on the above points may help in finding the right choice for you.
Article by Chrissie Tizzard Clinical Director Sheehan Brooke Psychology, 8-9 The Courtyard, Trident Business Park, Chichester Rd, Selsey, West Sussex PO20 9DY Tel: 01243 775055 www.sheehanbrooke.org Sheehan Brooke is a provider of psychology and mediation services throughout the UK.