This is so common that A LOT of people ask me this question. So instead of waiting to find me on the street, here is a list of things you can do if your relationship is in crisis.
What to Do if Your Spouse Wants Out
Find supports. You need to have unbiased supports who won’t persuade you one way or another with your spouse. Talk to your supports about what you need – an ear to listen; someone who will not bad mouth your partner; someone who will not spread rumors or talk behind your back. Having multiple people support you in times of crisis or transition is a good thing. Life crises’ can be too much for a single support to help you.
Take care of yourself! When your relationship is in crisis, the first things to go are usually sleep, healthy eating habits, exercise and hobbies. Maybe you find yourself drinking alcohol more often or recreational drug use. This will not help! Alcohol or drug use can increase depression and discourse in your relationship. Stay healthy! If you find yourself depressed for a long time, go see your doctor and investigate options for an antidepressant. Stay connected to the things you enjoy. Carve out time to be with loved ones and people who help you laugh. Pamper yourself – get a massage, new haircut, a new fishing pole, just make sure you take care of you.
Seek professional help: encourage your partner to seek help from a Marriage/Couples and Family Therapist. Professional help not only is an objective support with hordes of tools and resources, but also trained to work with the crisis or relational breakdown you are in. I’m continually amazed at the layers of healing and restoration couples experience in the counseling room. Professional help is critical when children are involved.
Make a plan: Plan for an emergency place to stay just in case you are going to do a trial separation. Decide who will move out and if there are kids involved, how you will schedule their care and needs. Look at your financial situation and decide what you can manage Discuss expectations to move forward with resolution or dissolving the marriage. Consult a lawyer. Consult family and trusted supports. Project best and worst case scenarios. Abstain sex or from developing a new relationship with someone else before ending your current situation.
Whatever your situation is, make decisions and take actions with the least amount of regret. That way if the relationship ends, you’ll know you did everything possible to make it work. You’ll know you tried every option and avenue with honor and integrity. And that will be one more thing to help you through those sleepless nights.
Tristan Beymer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and marriage and family counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She specializes in helping couples rebuild their relationship to be strong, healthy and passionate. She also works with individuals to overcome difficulties related to trauma and addictions.