Ending a marriage is not an easy decision. There is usually a period of unhappiness and dissatisfaction leading up to the decision, but how can you be sure the relationship is truly beyond salvation?
Only the people inside the relationship will ever truly understand the mechanics of that coupling and every relationship is unique but here are some points to consider if you’re thinking it’s time to call it quits.
You have tried counselling but you cannot reconnect
Often by the time a couple seek counselling, things are already in a bad way. Months or years of resentment have built up and they have reached crisis point. With work and commitment you can turn things around at this point if both parties are devoted to a positive outcome.
“It is important you make sure you work with a therapist who is extensively trained in marriage counselling. Many generalist therapists do not have this specific training and you don’t want to risk your marriage when the stakes are this high,” says Clinton Power, relationship counsellor from Clinton Power and Associates
“Give your marriage counselling at least three to six months of work before you make any decisions about the future of the relationship.”
After that time if you do not feel improvements are being made, it might be time to call it a day.
You do not trust or respect your partner
Trust is paramount in a relationship. When you give someone your heart you need to feel that they treat your heart with kindness and respect. If you no longer trust your partner you need to take a good look at why to ascertain if you can gain it back.
“Lack of trust is not a reason to divorce, but it is a reason to both work on restoring the trust,” believes Clinton.
“Trust needs to be earned by both partners over time. The restoring of trust is not a one-time event and you need to trust your partner and be trustworthy to earn it back. It’s hard work but it can be restored.”
Respect is the same, if you no longer respect your partner you need to address why, and see if you can once more respect the partner you fell in love with.
If you cannot gain back those deepest of feelings, it does not bode well for the future.
You are trying to change your partner
Almost everyone wants to change at least one or two things about their partner, but for the most part we learn to compromise or focus on the good bits.
“The research shows that most of the big issues couples fight about are never resolved in a long-term relationship. So this means you can practice acceptance, or you continue banging your head against a wall by trying to change your partner,” says Clinton.
The quickest path to changing a relationship is to focus on what you can change within yourself. The quickest path to destroying a relationship is continuously trying to change someone into something they are not. Are you willing to be the change in your relationship?
If you’re not willing to try, it could be time to walk away.
If you are having an affair
Affairs happen for all sorts of reasons, but they don’t need to be the deal breakers we all think they are.
“When an affair ends and the couple can work through their own marriage issues, it’s possible to build a relationship that was stronger than it ever was before,” tells Clinton.
“It does involve addressing pain, anger and hurt and it can be hard work. But the rewards can be enormous when you can get back on track and build your intimacy again.”
That said, an ongoing affair that you refuse to end in order to focus on your partner probably means you need to leave.
You are staying together only for the children
Many people believe that having two parents together regardless of the state of the relationship is preferable to having separated parents, but the fact is that we teach our children about human relationships by modelling them for them.
“What the children see is a disconnect between their parents, there is no laughter, no sharing of memories, conversations are about the kids, not about themselves,” tells Sue Yorston, senior manager Western Melbourne Relationships Australia.
“What you often have is long periods of silence. Young children have a great propensity for making their own sense of the world around them. Bottom line, if you’re unhappy, your kids might just blame themselves.”If you believe staying together until the children are teenagers is better, you also steal your own opportunity for living the happiest life you can.
You do not want to spend time with your partner
It is natural to have separate interests and to do things without each other, but it is important that you still come together and enjoy each other’s company regularly. If you no longer wish to spend time with your partner it’s not a good sign.
“People can spend years living separate lives in the same house. In retrospect most couples will say they should have left sooner. Not wanting to spend time with your partner is an indicator that you have indeed become two people who share a house, share finances, share kids. What you don’t share is a life,” says Sue.
The foundation to a happy relationship is kindness and friendship. Are you continuing to be a kind friend to your partner?
You are staying only because it’s financially easier
The thought of splitting assets or selling your home can be frightening. So much so that it can become an excuse to stay in an otherwise finished relationship.
“There is safety in staying with the status quo. The opposite is a big world out there, perhaps with no comfort zone,” tells Sue.
“The reality is it is an exciting world with unknown possibilities. Yes, you may be on your own, yes, you may find it hard financially, but there is also retraining for a new career, new places to live, new people to meet. And being boss of your own choices can be intoxicating.”
You are being abused
Abusive relationships are not black and white if you are inside one, but you must seriously consider yours, and your children’s, safety if your partner is violent.
“Research states that people in an abusive relationship believe that the abuse can be excused. It is very often minimised. One in five Australians believes violence results from people somehow ‘losing control’ and too often it is blamed on the victim,” says Sue.
78% of people cannot understand why women stay in abusive relationships, but it takes time for women to leave an abusive relationship.
“Their partner is someone they loved and believed loved them, would care for them and keep them safe. The victim is made to feel it is their fault, if I was a better…whatever….things would be different,” continues Sue.
If you are in an abusive relationship you can get help and advice at –
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
Lifeline – 13 11 14
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
Lifeline – 13 11 14