You’re hurting but you’re not sure…
When is it time for a relationship to end?
In our work we work often with the understanding that much in relationship is really about ourselves rather than the other person. That relationship challenges are our own stuff, to be looked at in ourselves. Does this mean there is ever a time when our relationship with our partner needs to be over? The answer is yes, sometimes it does.
Relationships take hard work, often much harder work than we ever imagined. Pain, suffering, loss of faith, hatred and even loss of love are part of long term committed relationship at times. There is a common belief that if our relationship takes work it’s wrong for us, but our relationships are the only place this belief surfaces. In other areas of achievement such as work or sport we assume that lasting success absolutely involves hard work and commitment. It’s the emotional intensity that makes relationships challenging. So just because you come up against some tough places doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel.
New paradigms and new ways of being require the destruction of the old for the new ones to take place. Knowing this can allow us to hang in there until the shifts have occurred.
Sometimes that death requires quitting. Admitting ‘I don’t know how to try anymore, I just have to give up’. Sometimes giving up can be the best thing you can do. I know I have given up trying in my own relationship with Graeme, a scary thing for someone with attachment issues to do, but I did it. Mostly it was about totally giving up my old way of being, admitting what was real, that my heart was closed to him and in my fears around attachment I’d been faking it. A whole new layer opened up in our relationship as a result.
Couples can quit in their relationships, taking time out from each other whilst staying together, or literally separating for a while. The vital thing to know about this kind of separation is that you need to keep doing your inner work on your relationship as you do so. Even if this is doing work on finding new layers in yourself. For if you take time out from your relationship to ‘fix it’ and rather than doing the work focus only on all the shiny new things in life around you (for after moving out of the struggle many new things will look bright and shiny to you) your relationship will have an almost 85% chance of ending…Many clients of ours have had conscious time out, enjoying the bachelor pad never had, the space for seeing herself more clearly right on to divorce and come back with very creative solutions for their relationships- including a 6 months cruise around the pacific on a catamaran. They kept looking for the mystery within.
But beyond this if the following are happening it’s time to question your relationships future:
- Repeated episodes of emotional or physical abuse that are not addressed by the abuser in any real way.
- You have a lack of support from someone to be there with you in the tough spots, either a friend or a counsellor/therapist.
- You’re seeing a therapist and it isn’t helping. Not all therapists are great ones. See another, one (or even two!) who specializes in relationships, as it is a very different dynamic to working with an individual.
- You have looked within and made significant changes in yourself (if you don’t do them now you’ll only have to do them in the next relationship) but your partner is unwilling or unable to join you.
- You look within yourself (even better, look into your heart) to ask the question can you do this anymore and the answer is no. Rituals have become chores, communication goes nowhere, your partner treats you with contempt (a sign of a closed heart), or you find yourself treating your partner that way. You’ve ceased planning any kind of future together. The ultimate decision is yours and you are the only one who can make it.
- Leaving knowing that you have worked to your limits to make the relationship happen can make it an easier decision. It can also allow the separation to occur with a lower level of animosity and a higher level of understanding, learning and compassion.