Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go, there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
Back in the 80s The Clash wrestled with the uncertainty of whether to remain in a relationship in their song Should I Stay or Should I Go; this dilemma resonates for many couples. Just as there are valid reasons to work together to create a connection that feels good to both partners (see last week’s post), there are also times when leaving a relationship is the best decision. In this week’s post, I outline three reasons to end a relationship.
Three Reasons to End a Marriage or Significant Relationship
Domestic Violence and/or Abuse: If you are physically or emotionally in danger, then this is reason to leave the relationship. Physical and emotional safety is paramount for all human beings. If your spouse exerts an inordinate amount of control over where you are, who you talk to, what you wear, etc. then it is critical to leave the relationship or get help. If your basic needs are in jeopardy then evaluating the relationship is crucial, and many people need professional help with this. If children are in the home then removing them from the situation is imperative. For resources in Colorado: http://ccadv.org
Reaching Dead-Ends: If you have tried many avenues to get your needs met or feelings valued and nothing seems to be changing, then ending the relationship may be a viable option. Worthy efforts include, but are not limited to, scheduling consistent time to be together, working at sharing your feelings, thoughts and desires in a vulnerable way (not with anger or criticism), planned activities to share together such as travel, exercise and art, and participating in professional couples counseling. If none of these efforts foster needed change, then leaving the relationship may be the next step. On the other hand, if you are willing to make all the aforementioned efforts for the relationship, but your partner is not, then change in the relationship may not be possible. That said, it only takes one person to change the “system”, so it’s a great idea to start with you. However, if you are running up against a dead end, know that it typically takes two to grow and enhance a relationship.
Dishonest Behavior: Lying, stealing and/or cheating is not uncommon in relationships, whether it’s about money, drinking, drugs or affairs, but this does not need to be the beginning of the end. I know couples who heal from these relational injuries and grow stronger as a result, reaching a level of intimacy they previously did not imagine. However, if your partner continues to lie, steal and/or go outside the boundaries of the relationship with no effort to turn towards you express a desire to heal, then ending it may be the best option.
If you are in that ambiguous place in your relationship, unclear as to the best way forward, seeking professional couples counseling is well worth the effort. Understanding the benefits of couples’ therapy and finding a couples’ therapist that is a good fit for you will be the topic of the next blog posts, so stay tuned!