Should You Separate From or Divorce Your Partner?
Making the decision to separate from and end a relationship can be hard. Is your relationship really doomed, or could it be repaired? Are you staying in a relationship because it is right for you, or because you don’t want to hurt other people? There are a million questions that could be running through your head as you try to decipher: should you separate from or divorce your partner? Below we will touch on 5 major things to look at within your relationship to help you make the decision. In addition, we will discuss when to seek a therapist and how therapy may help.
When to Seek a Therapist
When you agree to marry or enter a relationship with someone, you are envisioning your happy life together, growing old by one another’s side. As time goes on, we tend to grow out of these idealistic expectations and start to notice things about our partners that may irritate us or get on our nerves. It is important to remember, every partnership has its problems and it is natural for people to disagree with each other; we are only human after all. However, if you and your partner are experiencing problems and cannot seem to communicate well enough to work through your issues together, you may benefit from going to couples counseling.
In truth, it is never too early to attend couples counseling. Couples counseling is simply a tool that can provide a safe space for open, honest communication between you and your partner. By talking through your feelings together, you can gain a better understanding of one another. Couples counseling also equips you with the conflict resolution and communication skills needed to maintain a happy union.
If your partner refuses to attend couples counseling, or if you need the opportunity to talk through your options without your partner, seeing a relationship therapist alone may be the best move for you. In individual counseling you can focus on your feelings and develop a plan for the next steps to take. Unfortunately, seeing a relationship therapist on your own will probably not fix the problems in your relationship. Instead, it is an opportunity to work on yourself and gain clarity on what may be best for you.
Emotional and/or Physical Abuse
If you, or your child, are in danger you do not have the luxury of merely considering separation. Whether it be mental or physical abuse, if you or your sanity are threatened it is important to make a quick and abrupt break. It can be hard as a victim to come to terms with your abusive situation. If your partner is intentionally isolating you, intimidating you, calling you names, threatening you, using finances to control you, blaming you for violence inflicted upon yourself, or minimizing the violence you are experiencing, it is time to leave the relationship.
Lack of Conflict Resolution
If you have tried couples counseling, yet still can’t seem to effectively resolve conflicts with your partner, you have a problem. Couples who have not developed a way to resolve differences, without harm to the relationship, often end up avoiding disagreement and conflict all together. Perhaps both of you are just conflict avoidant, or maybe one of you is hesitant because every issue seems to turn into a fight that you never win. Either way, when differences are suppressed, it tends to result in loss of respect, increasing distance between partners and gradual withdrawal from the relationship.
Emotional and empathetic engagement are the cornerstones of building and maintaining intimate relationships. It is important to be willing to talk about your feelings and listen to your partner’s feelings, otherwise you may never be on the same page. If you find yourself no longer interested in the emotional life of your partner, you are not fostering your intimacy. With a lack of emotional engagement there is, often, also a lack of affection. These factors combined decrease the love felt between you and your partner.
Goals and Morals Have Changed
It is not uncommon for goals to change as we grow older. Perhaps you and your partner no longer have goals that align. If you are not working together towards common goals anymore, you may feel disconnected from each other. Age and time may also alter a person’s moral, ethical, or lifestyle values. Lack of common ground regarding morals and ethics can undoubtedly cause strain in a relationship. It is important that you are not compromising your own values to stay with your partner.
More Negativity Than Positivity
If you have gotten to the point where you, or your partner, have more negative memories and associations to marriage than positive ones, it may be time to start thinking about a divorce. One rule of thumb states that for every one negative aspect in a relationship there should be five positives. If it starts to feel like you can barely remember the positives in your relationship, you are on thin ice. For a relationship to thrive, both partners must feel a sense of inspiration, satisfaction, and joy from being together. If none of these positive feelings exist, there is more negativity in your relationship than positivity.
Looking for a Therapist
Again, if there is some hope that you could repair your relationship and you have not yet attended any couples counseling, try it! Furthermore, if you are struggling in your relationship and need someone to talk through your options with you, see a relationship therapist individually. Chriselda Santos, a licensed psychotherapist and certified life coach, specializes in providing compassionate relationship counseling. She is determined to help her patients build healthier connections and work through confusing times. For more information, or to book an appointment, visit her website.