Have you ever said to your partner, “I can’t do this anymore!”, and really meant it –“this time”. Or have you noticed s/he is 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
- Are there children and/or pets involved?
- Are you able to sustain two households financially if you part ways?
- Have you sought outside help through a spiritual guide, a licensed counselor or a mediator?
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 Relationship Problem 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 And 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, sexual fulfillment; conversation; recreational companionship; honesty & 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 thier 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 ABC’S OF Communication Skills?
Before walking away, ask yourself if you have the skills to communicate what the problem is. If not, there is a good chance that communication may be a problem in the relationship. And the truth is, if it’s a problem in your current relationship, well, you know……where ever you go there you are. Chances are, you may run into the same issue other relationships with family and friends (and a future relationship after this one). So take the time to think about whether your communication skills are up to the challenge of communicating effectively in your relationship. Increasing your skills is one way to feel better and more empowered in your relationship.
3. Are You Participating in Social Media “Mishaps” and other Computer-Related Emotional Infidelities?
If you are the victim of a spouse 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. 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 an common case 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”…… or, you notice a new password on your partner’s phone that limits your ability to view everything which feels suspicious since they didn’t mention anything to you about a password. Your first reaction might be anger, then feeling hurt, and invariably disagreements persist over time. After fighting about the above issues it is likely trusting your partner is more difficult and 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 too.
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 which 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, individual,couples and family counseling. While it can be a life long 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, solving some of these problems may lead you to a healthier, happier relationship.
Mary K Logan works with couples and individuals who have one foot out the door in a relationship. She enjoys working with couples to define and explore alternatives to leaving a relationship. Mary is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Life Coach with a private practice in Amesbury, MA.