Have you ever said to your partner, “I can’t do this anymore!”, and really meant it –“this time”. Or have you noticed they are coming home later and later after work, avoiding confrontation, or refusing to address the issues in your relationship? These are normal situations in most relationships but heed the warnings so the situation doesn’t escalate to walking out the door for good.
Things to Consider Before Leaving a Relationship
1. Are there children and/or pets involved?
2. Are you able to sustain two households financially if you part ways?
3. Have you sought outside help through a spiritual guide, a licensed counselor, or a mediator?
Before we begin, it should be noted up front that in this post we are talking about relationships in which there is a conflict and disagreement, but not abuse.
If you are in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship, that is a very different situation. You should immediately call 911 or go to your local emergency room for immediate assistance.
If you have one foot out the door, stop and take a deep breath. Consider the years you’ve invested in your partner and if your decision will affect any children or pets. Allow yourself some much-needed time to better understand what is going on with you before throwing in the towel. After all, what can be so bad about slowing down the decision to leave your partner? In so doing, you may be able to minimize problems that are sometimes made worse with hasty decisions. Who knows, you might even be able to stop the worst from happening and stay together.
Decisions have consequences, some more serious than others. Leaving a relationship deserves a well thought-out plan. Even if the result is that you still end up parting ways, providing more careful thought before acting on your feelings is generally a good idea.
Four Areas That May Require Professional Help
Generally speaking, there are themes that tend to lead to unhealthy and unhappy relationships. If one or all of these themes are present, stop long enough to reflect on what your responsibility is in the issue. In times of stress, more often than not, it is helpful to focus on yourself and understand what you bring to the relationship and how it might be adversely affecting your partner. Know thy self, as they say, is the key to being able to work through problems.
1. What are your emotional needs? Are they being met?
We all have needs. These are things that, if received to our satisfaction, make us feel our best. Before walking away, consider if you are getting your needs met within the relationship. This includes needs such as affection and sexual fulfillment, conversation, recreational companionship, honesty and openness, having an attractive spouse, financial support, domestic support, family commitment, and admiration. If you feel some of your needs are not being met to your satisfaction, in most cases this is fixable! Needs can be identified and communicated to your partner. Most couples feel frustrated and alienated by unfulfilled needs. As a couple, each person is responsible for understanding their own needs and communicating this to your partner. The opposite is also true. Once you understand your partner’s needs, it is your obligation to do your best to meet some of those needs to the best of your ability.
2. Are you familiar with the ABCs of good communication?
Before walking away, ask yourself if you have the skills to communicate what the problem is. If not, there is a good chance that you and your partner struggle with communication. And the truth is, if it’s a problem in your current relationship, well, you know…wherever you go, there you are. If you do not address the issue, chances are you may run into the same issue in other relationships with family and friends (and a future relationship after this one). So take the time to think about whether you are communicating effectively in your relationship. Increasing your communication skills is one way to feel better and more empowered in your relationship.
3. Are you using social media badly or engaging in other forms of virtual infidelity?
If you have a spouse or partner who can’t put down their phone or stay away from social media during dinnertime or “together” time, you’re in good company. This is fast becoming a huge problem area for unhappy couples. Internet cheating and the emotional distance caused in part by the internet and social media can have devastating consequences on your relationship.
Being engrossed in social media and texting with people other than your spouse has the potential to cause problems for committed long-term healthy relationships. It is easy to disconnect from your partner when you are more interested in screen friends who seem to understand you. It is important to be careful with this one. While these relationships can feel benign, texting and using other social media to foster relationships that may be inappropriate can be a trap. These infidelities can be just as hurtful and devastating to your partner. In fact, sometimes it’s even worse, given the boldness with which people can engage behind a phone or computer device.
Here is a common example of how this can become a problem in the relationship. Imagine your partner comes to the dinner table and is preoccupied with their phone, receiving text messages and the like. You might hear a ring tone go off for various things including new email, Facebook post updates (ugh), or text and phone messages. When you look over their shoulder they pull away and say “oh it’s nothing,” what do you do? Your first reaction might be anger, then feeling hurt. Inevitably, these disagreements will persist over time. After fighting about the above issues, it is likely that trusting your partner will be more difficult. Eventually this may lead to feeling indifferent toward your partner — simply not caring one way or the other about the negative relationship patterns you both have succumbed to.
4. Are you or your partner struggling with drug or alcohol abuse?
It’s no secret that alcohol and drug addiction can have devastating effects on a relationship. It’s a very complex issue that cannot be addressed here. However, if you are leaving your relationship because of this issue (for you or your spouse), consider if you have explored all treatment options. This may include things like; going into a detox facility, intensive outpatient treatment, medication management, group supports like AA and NA, as well as individual, couples, and family counseling. While it can be a lifelong challenge for the person with the addiction, there is help and support for the relationship. Struggling with addiction does not mean you or your partner cannot be together, but it does mean there is an elephant in the room that must be addressed if you want a long and healthy relationship. Whether the issue is with your partner or a family member, don’t go it alone. Find a skilled addiction counselor who can assist you in identifying healthier coping skills for maintaining a healthy relationship while in recovery.So keep your foot in the door while considering your options. Who knows, perhaps solving some of these problems can lead you to a healthier, happier relationship?
At Chaos to Calm Counseling, we work with couples and individuals to facilitate healthy relationships for the betterment of families and society at large. Learn more about our team, schedule a free consult, or call us at (978) 241-2881.