The decision of whether to stay in an unhappy relationship or to leave can be fraught.
Many people “mark time” in a relationship that has passed its use-by date, wondering if things will improve, hoping to recapture the joys of the past, fearing the unknown (or that they will regret a decision to leave), or simply being unwilling to shut the door on a marriage that started with so much promise and has had so much time and effort invested into it.
Yet for some relationships time does run out and whether there are children involved or not, the health and wellbeing of the individuals within the couple and the family unit depends upon separation.
How do you know if it’s really over? There are various signs that it is time to separate; here are our top five:
- You are no longer a couple: Do you live in the same house but lead separate lives? Lots of couples plod along but have actually uncoupled long before. They have disconnected, no longer spend time together, no longer communicate with each other and don’t support each other. If it feels like you are no longer a team, consistently better to be away from each other than together and you have disengaged from the relationship, it may be time to call it a day.
- The relationship is abusive: Abuse of any kind is an alarm bell that it’s time to get out. Abuse need not be physical either; mental, emotional, financial, sexual, social and psychological abuse are all far too common and a sure sign that a relationship needs to be over. (We will address relationship abuse in a future blog article).
- Your values and vision are at odds: Do you want completely different things from life? Are you growing as individuals but in different directions? People change enormously over a lifetime and the person you are at 40 or 50 is not the same person you were in your 20s. Unless you and your spouse evolve together, in parallel, and maintain hopes, dreams, values and aspirations that are compatible with each other, the relationship will struggle. Don’t allow yourself to be held back – nor to hold your partner back. Where happy compromise isn’t possible, separation may be the only answer.
- Lack of respect: Is the respect for each other gone? If one of you feels constantly rejected, dismissed, ignored, minimised or condescended to, and counselling can’t solve the issue, then it is time to leave. Any relationship that feels like a battleground without resolution is not a healthy place to be. Everyone deserves to be respected – most especially by their life partner.
- You are not interested in trying again: If one of you is uninterested in trying again as a couple, the marriage is over. Even the most seemingly insurmountable challenges can be overcome in a marriage if both partners are willing to try again and to rekindle love. Even challenges like infidelity can be conquered – but BOTH partners need to be onboard. If one partner has emotionally left the relationship, it’s time for both to leave and move on with life separately.
Couples may stay together simply for the kids. This ultimately benefits nobody – children are smart, and would rather have two happy separated parents than live in a miserable home with parents who fight all the time or no longer love each other. Kids emulate what they have witnessed as children when they grow up. Do you want your kids repeating your mistakes?
Leaving a relationship may feel like giving up – but when it’s the right decision, it’s simply closing an old chapter in life so you can begin a new, fresh, and hopeful one.
If you are separating, please talk to us about the process you need to take to get the best possible outcome for everyone involved.
Call us on 07 3161 2762 or email at [email protected]