4 Things To Do Before Deciding to leave a Relationship
The Clash had a hit song title Should I stay or should I go? As a relationship coach and couples counselor, it is one of the most common things I get asked when a new client comes through the door or the internet to see me. They arrive pretty much at their wits end because everything they’ve tried in an attempt to fix things hasn’t worked.
For one reason or another, they don’t feel they can talk to their spouse about how they feel. Conflicted, they come to see me to to try to sort it out. One thing is decided for sure: there has to be change or I’m gone!
The Clash goes on to say:
This indecision’s bugging me
If you don’t want me, set me free
Exactly whom I’m supposed to be…
which is exactly the problem. The partner that came to see me is finding that he or she can’t be who they are and stay in the relationship. Their soul is dying and they feel they need to get out!
Jane came to see me and through tears said she was thinking about leaving her husband even though they have a child together. Both of them have full time jobs.
“No matter what I do I”m not good enough for him.”
I asked her for a specific example.
“He says I’m not organized enough and I’m forgetful. It’s not true. I have a full time job and I do most of the child care. He gets on my case because I can’t keep up with a full time job and full time childcare. Do you know, our son is 9 months old and my husband still hasn’t given him a bath on his own! I’m not disorganized, I’m overwhelmed. And when I suggest that maybe he is part of the problem, he gets cold and analytical, then badgers me with all kinds of arguments proving why he is not in the wrong. He won’t stop until I start to cry. Only then will he actually show some emotion.”
Jane is overwhelmed and confused. She can’t be who she really is and be in this relationship. It’s my job to help her sort through the confusion, get her priorities straight and then be able to say what her relationship must-haves are. Only then can she say with certainty to her husband, what she needs to be different, in order to stay in the relationship.
To answer the question Should I Stay or Should I Go, you have to do the following:
- You have to create, write down and be able to articulate your own personal manifesto of relationship. This is your personal declaration of what you want in a relationship, your must-haves, your strongly “want to haves”, and your “I can take it or leave its”. This is your list of wants and needs; your intentions, motives and view of relationship.
- Once you’ve gotten clear of yourself what your relationship values and requirements are, then you need to talk to your partner about it. It’s often a wise idea to seek out a couples counselor to help you do this. If you partner refuses to participate or goes to the sessions and just keeps saying that he/she is not the problem, then you pretty well know that it’s time to go.
- If your partner chooses to engage with you on this, be prepared to hear about the things you do that drive your partner crazy. Be open to working for mutual change and improvement. Be ready to take partial responsibility for the problems. Remember, the dance of relationship takes two people. Someone is following and someone is leading, but they are doing it together.
- Don’t do any of these:
- jump to conclusions
- find blame
- need to make the other one wrong so you can feel right.
It’s not always obvious to see how we can resolve disagreements without blame. If you were raised in western world, you were raised in a culture that’s permeated by blame, shame, victims and victimizers. When you take a me or you, us or them stance, there is no middle ground, nothing to move towards. Both of you are trying to move away in an effort to be right.
There is a poem by the famous Sufi master Rumi. Once verse goes:
Out beyond ideas of wrong doing
and right doing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
Instead, listen, try to understand your partner’s point of view and see if your partner won’t listen and understand your point of view, too. See if the two of you can meet in the middle. Be willing to walk to the other side and look at it from your partners point of view. Then ask your partner to walk to your side and look at things from your vantage point.
Be sure to speak of your own experience in the relationship. Ban the word “you” from the beginning of every sentence. Ask your partner to do the same. Tell your partner why things are not working for you. If you are struggling, fall back on the very reliable, starting each sentence with “I feel.”
Many times, a partner faced with the possibility of a relationship dissolving will become responsive, start taking responsibility, and may even change for the better. If the two of you, possibly with the help of a couples counselor, can have this non-judgmental, mutual exploration of the issues, you will find that problems will dissipate and the intimacy between you will start to increase.
I have found that when a couple can start to engage each other this way, the animosity between them lessens. Some couples still choose to end the relationship as a couple and if that is the choice they make, they do it with love and respect, not hatred and vitriol. If the couple chooses to stay together, they are now able to build a strong relationship where the sum of the two is greater than the individuals involved.
If your partner cannot go through the four steps with you, then you have your answer. You have to leave for your own well being. There are people out there that due to their psychological and emotional issues, cannot be intimate and emotionally present. The potential vulnerability of being intimate is too scary for them and so they will never let their guard down. To stay with someone like that with no hope of change is beyond anybody’s responsibility or duty in a relationship.
You tried, it didn’t work; so cut your losses and get out. You’ve answered the question: Should I stay or should I go?
Are you ready to start making positive change today?
If so, here’s what to do next:
- Sign up for my monthly Newsletter: What Works:News on Health, Happiness and Wisdom. You’ll get my monthly Health and Wellness Tips, full of tips and idea for a healthy happy life. Click here to sign up.
- Email me, call me at 303-500-0926 for your FREE 10 minute phone consultation to find out how I can help you.
- If you’re ready to book an appointment, schedule an in person or virtual appointment now.