“You can love them, forgive them, want good things for them… but still move on without them.”
~ Mandy Hale
I’ve worked with many clients stuck in this dilemma: Should I stay with my partner or spouse or leave.
They fear that things won’t get better if they hang around and, in the meantime, they’re missing out on opportunities to find a relationship that would better suit them. Equally, however, they fear going it alone or that they’ll ever find a better mate.
Here are some recommendations for making this major decision:
1. Look for unhealthy patterns of behavior.
Have the same problems been going on for months or years—or decades?
Assuming that you’ve made reasonable requests for a partner to change behavior and that hasn’t happened, you can pretty much assume it’s going to continue whether you like it or not. If your partner keeps saying he or she will change, but doesn’t, or it happens for a while until things go back to how they were, the writing’s on the wall.
2. Have a clear idea of what behavior you will tolerate and what behavior you won’t.
For example, if your partner refuses to give up smoking in the house and you’ve just been diagnosed with asthma, you have every right to be angry . There are some behaviors we cannot and should not tolerate and that’s fine. Only you know which ones meet this threshold for you.
3. Strongly consider leaving if there is ongoing substance abuse, sexual, emotional, or physical abuse, or neglect.
That said, if you’ve never complained or insisted this behavior stop, it’s worth going to therapy over. However, if your partner refuses to go with you or goes then drops out, this is a statement that he or she has no intent to change. If so, start making plans to leave.
4. Be honest about whether or not you still love your partner.
If there is no love left for him or her, know why you’re staying. Perhaps you fear being alone. As a woman, maybe you’re financially insecure and scared of supporting yourself (and maybe your children) monetarily. If this is the case, get some legal or financial help before making a decision.
5. Stop whining and nagging and give an ultimatum.
Many women are afraid to draw a line in the sand. They’ll complain, sulk, stew, and become passive-aggressive, but won’t give an ultimatum. Men are usually much better at this than women are.
It’s fine to say to a partner,
“If you continue to do such and such, I’m leaving” or “If you don’t begin to do X or Y, this relationship is over.” Sometimes a partner needs to hear what he or she might lose before mending his or her ways.
A great book on this subject is Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether To Stay in or Get Out of Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum. I highly recommend it!
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
Are you contemplating leaving a relationship? Do you feel uncertain about the future of your relationship?
A few years ago, a good friend of mine decided to end her marriage. When I expressed curiosity about her decision, she quietly reflected on the question for a few moments, and simply replied “I just knew.”
She explained that her husband did not want children, and this was a deal breaker for her. She could not imagine life without children.
I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer to relationship decisions.
There are only reasons. We generally make decisions based on our emotional needs, expectations, or desires. This is why it is so important to consider how you feel and why you feel this way before taking action. Sometimes we can feel a certain way based on past negative expectations or assumptions.
A great tool for gaining awareness and understanding into decision making is to ask good questions.
Consider WHY you got into the relationship in the first place.
- What did it offer?
- What did you like about it?
- What don’t you like about it now?
- What changed in the relationship?
Second, consider WHO is influencing this decision.
Are you making this decision for yourself or to please someone else? Sometimes, we can be negatively or positively influenced by our friends, family, society or the media. Identify who is influencing your decision.
Third, consider HOW you have contributed to the problem.
I know this is a tough one to answer, but it is important that you are honest with yourself so that you do not repeat any unhealthy patterns in the next potential relationship.
Take a step back and be an observer of the relationship.
- What do you notice?
- How do you handle conflict and communicate your needs? Is it healthy?
You can obtain some clarity by writing down the pros and cons of staying or leaving the relationship.
Create a vision for the type of experience you want in the relationship. Is this person willing to share your vision? Are you willing to share theirs?
Sometimes, you can experience a different relationship with the same person simply by changing expectations and sharing deeper needs and values.
If you choose to stay, communicate how each of you can support and nurture the relationship so it is mutually satisfying and fulfilling. If you choose to end the relationship, consider doing it in a way that feels respectful to you.
Finally, listen to your inner wisdom and knowing. What does it say?
Dr. Shannon Tran – www.shannontranphd.com
Is your heart saying one thing, but your brain is telling you another?
This is a common phenomenon among people, when they are confronted with hard decisions. They are conflicted, or at least that is what they believe. But, in actuality their answer is staring at them in the face, they just choose to ignore it, which is the real conflict.
The hardest decisions end up being the best ones for us, it just takes courage to push past whatever fears you may be feeling.
If something is truly advantageous for us, our heart and brain are in congruence with each other; it feels right.
So, if you are asking yourself the question, should I stay or should I go, then, you probably already know the answer because otherwise, you wouldn’t be pondering this inquiry.
Sure, at times you may find yourself evaluating your relationship, such as wondering how it can be improved, but withdrawal is a completely different turn.
I urge you to do this simple, time effective exercise that will help you realize, and come to terms with the answer that you have had all along.
Get a sheet of paper, and fold it in half.
On one side write the question, what am I getting out of the relationship?
On the other side, write, what is the relationship taking away from me?
Just write, don’t think; let your hand do all of the work.
When finished, and you are reviewing what you wrote, remember, relationships are supposed to add to our lives, not subtract from them.
Annoyances and occasional disagreements typically don’t deplete or drain a person, but rather, problems like inattentiveness or controlling behaviors do.
If you get anything out of this post, it is to trust your brain and your heart, they know what is best for you.
Robin Ennis, LCSW, CPC – www.linkedin.com/in/robinennis
Struggling to figure out your relationship? Trying to decide what is best for you and perhaps your family? It sucks being caught in indecision about what to do about your relationship. Hopefully, the suggestions bellow will help you out of indecision and into a confident decision!
1. List the pros and cons.
It’s an oldie but a goodie. List out all the reasons you stay and all the reasons you want to leave. Are there any deal breakers on your list? Any must have that you have compromised on?
When you comprise yourself you start to feel taken advantage of, unheard and unimportant. This can lead to unhappiness and desire to want to leave.
2. Talk to the other person.
Can you negation improving your relationship? Are they will to work things out? Can you tell them how you feel and move forward?
If the other person is unable to talk it out, refuses to talk it out or unable to work on the relationship. Chances are you need to go.
3. What does your gut tell you?
Often times we ignore our intuition and let our rational minds or our hearts make the decision. Take a moment and close your eyes. Take a couple deep breathes.
Now imagine staying your relationship for the rest of your life.
What do you feel in your body? Sick, excited, heavy chest, churning in your stomach?
There is no right or wrong answer here.
- As you imagine staying in this relationship forever does anything else come up- a color, shape, smell, texture, sound? If so what?
- Do you hear beautiful music or crashing instruments out of tune?
- Do you feel a warm blanket or porcupine quills?
- Do smell your favorite food or spoiled food?
Really allow your imagination to play here. You will be surprised at what insight you can gain about yourself and your relationship.
Good luck and remember you deserve happiness and loving relationships!
Margaret Bell, MA, NCC – www.forwardkindheart.com
The question to stay in a relationship or go can be tricky and confusing ground.
The ending of a relationship can bring up all sorts of questions and guilt which can squelch empowering choices before we even give them a chance. It’s imperative to get hyper conscious on the true dynamics of the relationship prior to ending it so you can exit (or stay if warranted) with a peaceful heart.
Below is a list of questions to ponder either alone or with or a trusted friend or truth teller.
New perspectives and validation can be the key to helping us choose what is right and true for ourselves. It is highly beneficial to bring the issue into the light so it can be clearly seen and navigated through successfully.
1. Have you done all you can do?
Are you speaking your truth and setting appropriate boundaries? If we close down, remain silent and continually rug sweep, we haven’t fully given our relationship the proper chance it needs. A lot can change when we approach our relationship from a level of worthiness and truth.
2. Is your partner repeatedly disrespecting you?
Do you feel defeated, put down or lonely within your relationship? Again, have you expressed your pain and desire for something different? Respect is one of the most important ingredients in a healthy relationship. Relationships simply will not be cohesive and supportive if one or both sides are disrespectful.
3. Are you being emotionally or physically abused?
I’m well aware one might get frustrated from time to time and throw out a curse word or name. An occasional “oops” is human. However, you must use your own wits to determine where the emotionally abusive line starts.
The question is: Is this a frequent occurrence and am I greatly affected by it?
Frequently occurring emotional abuse or any physical abuse at all should always be a deal breaker.
A person who communicates in this manner needs some serious help and you are not the person who can help them. The behavior wasn’t born overnight and it won’t end overnight. I consider either of these issues massive DEAL BREAKERS. Pack your bags and go.
4. Is your partner unwilling to seek help and/or grow?
I often hear of partners saying,“This is who I am and I’m not changing!” Well, then I guess you have just signed your walking papers. Relationships are designed to show us ourselves and good relationships are founded on mutual support, personal growth and integrity.
If your person is unwilling to see his/her part of the equation and take necessary steps to heal their portion, this might mean it’s time to move on.
5. Is your partner trustworthy?
Mutual trust is THE foundation to a healthy relationship. When our person’s behaviors match his/her words, we know we have a great starting place. However, it’s still imperative to ask yourself all of these 6 questions because trust alone, won’t stand alone.
If you don’t deeply trust your partner, there will always be big issues. Lack of trust is a breeding ground for all types of problems! If your partner is unwilling to prove him/herself through word and deed, you may need to make your exit.
6. Does your partner abuse substance?
I have a hard line when it comes to substance abuse. I’ve dealt with it personally with partners and believe me when I say it will not get better until they get help. When a partner abuses substance, we are not in a relationship with our partner, we are in a relationship with the substance. It will always come before you. Substance abuse is only a symptom of a greater problem beneath the surface.
Since addicts can really mess with your head, I encourage you to seek an Al-Anon (support for loved ones of addicts) group to get your mind clear. Once you get clear on the magnitude of the situation, you will be better able to make empowering choices.
Kristen Brown, Certified Empowerment Coach/Mentor – www.sweetempowerment.com
When safety, well being and life is at risk for either you and/or the family or children if that is applicable, as with high conflict domestic violence, drug addition behaviors, and health related threats, then there is a solid answer that it is best to go.
Therefore, safety first.
Some other thoughts to keep in mind are relationship stressors and how you and your love are handling these stressors.
Questions to ask yourself, are you both willing to work on the issues at hand?
If you are and he is not, then there are some considerations to be had, as to whether you can endure and wait for the other to join in the healing. This may mean a separation or some time away to consider your thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes, children, finances, fears of being alone and the risk of the unknown are barriers that stand in the way of making a decision and acting on the decision.
Explore these considerations with trusted peers, family, professionals.
Check with other couples and spouses, these couples may be in group process with a therapist or other individuals that have left or stayed when conflicts were difficult, normalize your experience by checking in with those that have experience, sometimes we can think life would be so much better without him, but really, take a moment, to evaluate if you are overly idealistic.
Also, when doing this, make sure it is not disrespectful to your partner, meaning if you both know the individuals, it is probably not a good idea, therefore, check with those that you don’t know.
If there is another man involved, meaning you are finding yourself attracted to another and want to leave your relationship, and you have not addressed how it is you found yourself with another man, for example an emotional affair, it is generally a good idea to explore these actions with an objective professional that can provide some thoughts and insights as well as assist you to get back to reality.
Make pros and cons of leaving and staying, explore all angles.
It can get confusing with your emotional mind, so become intuitive and listen to your inner guide. Practicing meditation, journal and therapy which are skills that can help assist with this.
Lisa Bahar, MA, LMFT – www.lisabahar.com
There are actually many signs if we pay attention.
But signs or not, we might hesitate to leave a relationship out of insecurity or uncertainty. We may doubt ourselves and wonder if it’s really the right thing to do. We wonder if we should give our partner one more chance, even though we’ve already given him a hundred before that.
In a bad relationship, we can lose sight of our direction, get derailed from our life, disconnected from our friends, our family, and our work, and still find ourselves struggling to make that difficult and FINAL decision…even though in our heart of hearts…we know.
The truth is, if we get quiet within ourselves, and really listen, we always know if something or someone is right for us.
Not only that, we often will know right from the start. If you remember back to when you first met, you may remember that those doubts and concerns were there in the first two or three meetings. But as time goes by, we may downplay those concerns, covering them over with hopeful thinking. But if we are really honest with ourselves…we knew.
Don’t feel badly though, that you may have put a soft filter on the state of the relationship.
You are human after all. You were giving him the benefit of the doubt. You were giving him a chance. You were “waiting and seeing.” And that is only right. You can only discover what the nature of a relationship is by being in it.
However, there can come a point in a relationship where you see that it is clearly not working.
And as you realize this, there comes from deep within ourselves a seismic inner nudge that is encouraging you, showing you, reminding you, sometimes even shouting at you, that it is time to take action.
Because of the complexity of intimacy and the intricate dance of relationship, we can be confused about what to do, when to do it, or even if we should.
But once realized, the sooner is the better – like before you buy a house together, or conceive a child, or before you change your lives so radically that it is practically impossible to back up.
It is true; it is hard to always gauge accurately when things are not working – really not working.
But once you recognize that the connection is not strong enough to hold, and that the two of you are not able to work through it, then it’s time to let him go.
So, instead of prolonging or procrastinating, when you finally have the courage to know what you know – to know what you knew all along – then it becomes easier to have “the conversation” that really was inevitable.
There is an art to life and one of the graces of life is to know when to let go.
The longer you delay, the more suffering there will be. If a relationship is really not working and has become untenable, then for everyone’s sake you need to release it. By doing so, you leave each other free to find a truer. And that sets you both free to find real happiness.
Diana Lang, Counselor and Spiritual Teacher – www.dianalang.com
Should I stay or should I leave? How often have you asked yourself this question? Has your relationship become one of constant bickering and hurt feelings, with no resolve in sight? If this is you, then it may be time leave. However, there are several things to consider before walking out the door.
1. Have you looked at the situation from your man’s perspective?
Are you being too needy? Do you define yourself by having a man by your side? Men admire women who are independent and bring “richness” into the relationship. They may feel overwhelmed and, possibly overburdened, by the expectation of providing all your needs and desires.
2. Have you resolved any issues from your childhood that may have played into your choice of a man?
Sometimes growing up in a family environment that was neglectful or traumatizing can influence a woman to unconsciously choose a man who will repeat that abusive pattern in her present relationship.
Family-of-origin issues such as verbal, physical or substance abuse can have a profound affect on one’s sense of self and choice of mate. These past unresolved issues can also cause you to have trust issues and assume negative things about your man that aren’t true.
3. If the above statements describe your situation in any way, then it would be advisable to get some professional counseling to help you resolve these issues so that you can engage in your relationship in healthy ways.
Relationships can be hard and it takes constant awareness and resolve to keep them operating at optimal levels. If the relationship is important to you, you must do everything you can to save it.
4. Couple counseling would, also, be very helpful to shed more light on the dynamics of your relationship.
Because the brains men and women are wired differently, misunderstandings are bound to happen. Patience, understanding and tolerance of those differences can strengthen a relationship. You don’t have to agree with the differences but supporting your mate in doing them shows respect, acceptance and love.
5. If you are being the best person you can be, coming from an emotionally healthy place and your relationship is still full of turmoil and pain, it may be that your man, also, needs individual work for the relationship to heal and be successful.
This decision is solely the man’s choice as no one can control what others do. If he admits that he has some problems to work on and actively pursues the help he needs to, also, become emotionally healthy, then you may be able to resolve those relationship issues and enjoy a happy life together.
6. However, if your man says that he doesn’t have any problems and blames you for the difficulties you’re having with him, it, then, may be time to leave.
Relationship health is always a “two-way street.” If you know that you’ve done everything you could to make the relationship work and you’re still not happy, leaving the relationship may, then, be the healthiest and wisest decision to make for both of you. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Dr. Joanne Wendt – www.doctible.com/providers/joanne-wendt
You may not, except with express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.