You have known for a while that your relationship is suffering. Things are not as they used to be and the conflict is unbearable. You have been trying everything from your mother’s advice, magazine pro-tips and counselor’s suggestions with no real results. We all know that relationships change as we mature and we’re supposed to work on it to keep it alive, but you are exhausted. Although it is true that relationships take work, we also have a tendency to overwork ourselves to avoid the feeling of failure. If you add children, mortgage and an intrusive family/community you will be on the spinning wheel for a long time.
If you are in a committed relationship you will fight until the end to save it…but how will you know that end has come? It won’t be easy or without a heartbreak that you’ll admit the end of the relationship. You want to believe that “if I try just a little harder then we can work it out”. Sadly there are times where being strong means knowing when to let it go. Here are 5 signs that you can let go:
5 Signs when Enough is Enough
1) Irreconcilable deal breakers: It is important to be aware of your deal breakers before entering a relationship. Only you can determine what you can or cannot live with. It is not shameful if you hadn’t realize something is a deal breaker before committing. One of you could change your mind about a set expectation. The first step is to share your thoughts and feelings, set your boundaries on what you need and try to compromise if possible. Don’t give up on getting your needs met. If after debating you can’t find a compromise, it might be time to call it quits. It is not fair to you or your partner that you hold resentment for not getting what you need.
2) Only you are working for change: A relationship is a two-way street meaning both of you have responsibilities on it and impact each other. If the relationship has an “identified patient” that takes all the blame and does all the work, eventually it will fail. Your partner might say they are working for the change as well, but in reality they continue to blame you for their behavior and pretend that their input in the relationship is to “guide you” to be better. Set a time limit to yourself to see if your partner will join in the fight for the relationship. If they don’t engage after a reasonable time frame, the chances of it happening are slimmer.
3) Domestic violence: abuse can take many forms that we might not even recognize. Hurtful words, destructive comments and physical abuse are just some examples. The bad times will be alternated with the peaceful interactions that brings you hope that things can be resolved. Unless the abuser addresses the issue within self – usually with therapy – the abuse will continue its ugly cycle. There is no amount of work that the abused partner can do that will change an abuser if the person is not willing to accept and deal with the problem. Leave the relationship before it becomes worse.
4) You make excuses for your partner: In this scenario you are allowing your partner to not be part of the change by taking responsibility or blaming their behavior on external forces, such as “it is hard for him to control his drinking because of his bad childhood”. While external stressors are real and challenging, if you don’t hold someone accountable for their actions you are enabling their negative behavior. First, allow them to take responsibility for their part in the problem and work on it. If the blaming and lack of accountability continues it is time to consider whether the relationship can survive.
5) Living in the past or future: this might be the biggest reason people stay in failed relationships. You reminisce on the “good old days” and fantasize that life can be good again. What you’re really doing is ignoring the present and hoping that a miracle will happen. While you’re trying to live in a different time period the problem is affecting you now. As a certainty the relationship will never be as it was before – people change, remember? It could be better, but definitely will be different. If all you have left of the relationship are memories and hopes I suggest you reconsider your expectations for the quality of the present.
About the Author Patricia Cochran is a marriage counselor with The Marriage and Family Clinic. She is passionate about helping couples and families to feel connected again. In her spare time, she is busy with her toddler and enjoying friends and family time