Sometimes it’s easy to see a relationship is over, because the ending is natural and mutual. Most of the time, however, it’s hard to know if your relationship is ending or if you’ve just hit a rough patch.
“Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war, love is a growing up.” ~ James Baldwin.
Is your love growing up, or doing battle? Even if it’s doing battle – does that mean your relationship should end?
Here’s what one reader says, on my article about giving up on your relationship vs. trying to make it work:
“Lately, after having our daughter, when we disagree my partner blames me for starting the fight, says I do everything wrong and that I need to change. It just seems it goes from a little disagreement to breaking up. I’m worried that my partner doesn’t want to be here. We’ve had issues before and I know having a baby adds a lot of pressure but how is it possible to get on great some days and others have him just hate me? I have no idea what the best thing to do is. I love him but am I just holding onto our relationship even though it’s ending? Help! Thanks.”
Sometimes it’s easy to know your relationship is ending because you simply can’t live together anymore. Or, a crisis like a child’s death or infertility drives you apart.
Most of the time, however, I believe we jump to ending our relationships too quickly. Here are a few things to consider before you say good-bye to your partner…
Check your expectations
A reader wrote me yesterday, saying she wants to end her marriage because it’s not the “50 shades of gray” type of love. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this, because she’s comparing her marriage to an erotic novel! The “love” in that book isn’t real, healthy, or part of a normal love relationship! Of course she’s unhappy with her marriage – it’s like comparing a 10 year old marriage to a steamy Harlequin romance novel.
What do you expect from your relationship? Here are a few signs you’re expecting too much from your partner. We buy into the myths Hollywood feeds us, which has direct negative effects on our relationships.
As you said, a new baby is a big life change for both you and your partner. Maybe you expect your relationship to be the same as it was before the baby…when in fact you and your partner have changed since your child’s birth.
Learn how to be a healthy partner
Leave your boyfriend or husband out of it for a second. How healthy and happy are YOU? How do you express your love, how do you receive love from your partner? Where is YOUR life going?
It’s important to be emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy. I don’t know what’s going on with your partner – or what’s going on with you! Maybe you’ve changed since the baby was born. Maybe you can’t see what your boyfriend or husband is trying to tell you. Whether or not your relationship is ending or you think you should leave your partner, I think it’s important to take care of who you are as a woman.
Read up on how to be married
What was the last book you read on marriage, love, and relationships? How often do you and your partner talk about how you communicate and interact? Books like Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up by Harriet Lerner are excellent sources of information and support.
And of course, there is always marriage counseling or a marriage workshop. My husband and I are going to our first marriage retreat weekend soon. I don’t believe our relationship is ending – on the contrary, it has gone through rough patches and is stronger than ever! But, marriage needs TLC and attention in order to stay healthy and happy.
I’m sorry, but I don’t know if your relationship is ending. You’re the expert on you, your partner, and your relationship with your partner! But I encourage you to commit yourself to rebuilding your relationship, and not rush into ending it.
Keep writing about your marriage – stay connected with your thoughts, plans, and hopes for the future. Don’t rush into any major decisions. Get help from an in-person counselor or trusted mentor, and keep the big picture in mind.
For more thoughts on relationships ending, read Is This Grounds for Divorce or Do I Stay Married?