Divorce rates are nearly 50% in our nation and more people than ever are opting to stay single longer in today’s day and age. Men and women all over the US are deciding to breakup when their relationships get tough rather than riding out the waves. Is this the right choice? How can you tell when it’s time to throw in the towel on a partnership that isn’t working?
No one wants to make rash decisions or worse, the wrong decisions when it comes to love. Sure, in the heat of the moment you may want to wring his neck and tell his mother all the terrible things he has said and done, but you also realize those feelings might pass. And when they do, you want to know that you’ve brought your most rational self to the table and made a decision you won’t regret. Granted it’s not always easy to be logical when it comes to matters of the heart but with practice, it can be done.
Make a List, Check it Twice
One thing you can try is a technique logical minded people have been doing for centuries – make a list. Divide a piece of paper in half lengthwise and write “pros” and “cons” at the top of each column. Start with the pros. What do you love about him? What made you attracted to him in the first place? What qualities do you see in him that you know you want and need in a partner? Next, move on to the cons. What bothers you about him? What do you wish you could change about his personality or way of being? What do you most commonly fight about?
Next, rank the importance of each pro and con on a scale of 1-10 and write that number next to each item. This part is important because not every item holds the same weight. One of your cons might be that he has brown eyes instead of blue. While that might be true, it also might not be a determining factor in your relationship. Thus you might rank this a 1 on the scale of importance whereas you might rank “poor communicator” a 10 if it has a big negative effect on your relationship.
Now, add the numbers in each column and take a look at your list. If the score is completely lopsided, your answer might be staring you in the face. If that’s the case listen!
Be honest – Are you willing to do the work?
However, chances are your choices won’t be so cut and dry. In many cases, you may find that there are things about the relationship that need mending but you have hopes that they can change. Get clear about what BOTH you and your partner need to do to address the problems, and ask yourself this very important question: Am I willing to do the work required to improve this relationship? Then ask your partner if they are willing to make the changes and put in the work necessary for you both to be happy. There is no right or wrong answer here as long as you answer honestly. If the answer is “no,” this is a good indication that your heart just isn’t in it.
Still, before you split, consider the fact that there are at least 10 areas of compatibility that exist within every union. These are things like: the importance of sex and romance; financial styles; attitudes toward extended family; and attitudes towards having children. Some of these areas are workable, while others are more difficult – you can’t have 1/2 of a child, for example. So, think about whether the areas where you are incompatible with this partner are truly deal-breakers. Because, chances are, a new partner will come with his own list of incompatibilities and you will undoubtedly be trading one set of problems for another.
Make Sure Your Vision is 20/20
Whether or not you choose to stay with your current partner, one thing that I like to encourage clients to do is create a relationship vision. This is, essentially, a list of things that you would like to see in your ideal relationship. As you can see on the sample relationship vision in this blog post, your vision can include things like: having a date night once per week; spending time with each-other’s families; having sex 3-4 times per week; vacationing twice a year; supporting each-other’s goals and dreams, etc.
Making a vision statement for your relationship can help you decide what is really important to you. It will help you see what kind of partnership you want to engage in and it will empower you to create that for yourself. It’s also important to look at what kind of partner you are being and whether or not you are being the type of person you want to attract.
Hopefully, some of these ideas can help you with your decision. Yet, if all else fails, you can always flip a coin. I’m half kidding but in reality, you can learn a lot about your true desires when you notice which outcome you suddenly hope for when it’s in the air. Hey, the psychology of decision making is not always a scientific process 😉
If you are in the process of deciding whether or not to stay or breakup and really can’t decide, I think contacting a therapist is always a good idea. You may not know exactly what steps you and your partner need to take to improve the relationship but a well trained couples therapist should. If you’d like some help with this or any other relationship issue, I’m here to help!