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Ending a relationship is always hard, no matter if it lasted months, years, or decades. The longer you are in a relationship, the harder it gets to end things, especially if you and your partner share finances, home, and social connections.

But, if issues are unresolvable, splitting up might be the only solution to a better life. How do you know if separating is the right thing to do? In today’s blog post, I’ll try to propose a few considerations you should take into account before separating. My extensive experience in couples counseling has led me to believe that most couples are willing to cooperate to stay in the relationship, but only if they see that the effort is mutual.

Are You Partners or Enemies?

This, in my opinion, is the most important question. In every relationship, the initial emotions are love, connection, understanding, support, and cooperation.  As time passes and problems arise, couples might develop two different mindsets.

The first is being partners, an us against the problem mindset is key. This mindset is much more likely to solve problems and by doing so, strengthen their bond and partnership. They see problems as something they need to conquer together, by protecting each other’s backs.

The other mindset, the negative one, is looking at your partner as an enemy – the aggressor, the one who tries to make you feel bad, the one that never understands, the one you need to win an argument against.

And let’s be honest, when someone makes you feel bad, you want to make them feel bad too. This is when things take a downward spiral into never-ending fights. I sincerely recommend visiting a relationship therapist, since they can teach you practical exercises to try out and help you develop the mindset of partners against the problem.

Do You Have Mutual Goals, Wishes, Activities, Hobbies?

This section is dedicated to the things that keep you together. Do you enjoy each other’s company? Do you share mutual goals for the future? Do you have activities and hobbies you like to do together? When people are connected through experiencing activities together, they tend to feel closer. If you and your partner are distant and only talk for a few minutes before bed, chances are you’ve lost your sense of togetherness, closeness, and connection. If you don’t have the boost of quality time together whether that is doing something constructive or relaxing, even the smallest of problems might seem like too much to conquer together.

My advice for these for relationship issues would be to find an activity you can do together, joining forces to achieve a mutual goal. Not only will you feel like partners again, but you can better your abilities to cooperate, communicate, and be solution-oriented. These exercises will slowly transfer into your everyday communication.  Don’t waste any time and start talking to a relationship therapist; With the help of someone experienced, you will move in a guided direction.

Is the Give and Take Balanced? Is Constructive Feedback for the Purpose of Growing Together?

In every relationship, we strive to give and receive love, understanding, and support. Life gets easier if you have someone who cares. But, you have to give to receive. If only one person in the relationship gives positive affirmations and understanding, it’s only natural to feel unappreciated. So, think about it – are both partners giving and receiving or is it just one sided? If your relationship is one-sided, you might want to try to balance the give and take, before considering splitting up for good.

The other thing you should think through is constructive critique. And I don’t mean the negative critique that is tossed around while you and your partner are in the heat of an argument. Pointing out the negative sides, while making sure that you communicate in a kind and objective manner, is crucial for growth and betterment. Things are perceived differently from different perspectives, and there isn’t anyone who knows you better than your partner. So, consider the things they say. Step aside for a second and think about the extent to which your partner is right about some things. Ask the same to be done from the other side.

What Are Your Deal–Breakers? What Are Your Partners’ Deal-Breakers?

No matter how much we want to make a compromise in the name of love, there are some lines you shouldn’t cross if you want the relationship to last. What are your red lines? What are your partner’s red lines? Can you communicate that with them in order to meet each other in the middle?

What I like to propose to my clients battling this problem is simple – Talk about some of the biggest things that your partner does that you can’t let slide. Take turns, and make sure that you find the best way to explain them to each other. But, also be cautious to not make them feel bad or incompetent. Once both of you share something that you don’t like about the other, you can start working your way toward change. Make sure that you really can dedicate yourself to the goal, don’t just say you will and then proceed as usual.

If you want to solve the problems, start one by one, with all the effort you can give. Make sure that you motivate one another when improving, and remind when you stagnate. It won’t happen overnight, but step by step, you will become closer.

How Much of It Is Yours to Fix, and What Do You Hold Your Partner Accountable For?

Arguments never end well if you just want to point out what the other did wrong, or how they don’t have the right to say what they say. For love, as well as for arguments, you need two people, constantly adding to the communication. So, it rarely is down to one person to change, but rather, both partners have flaws and strong sides.

So, calmly talk through it, and put in the effort to keep the communication as a conversation and not a fight. Without the heat of emotions, it’s far more possible to come to a solution. Openly think and talk through the things that you both need to change, adapt to the other and meet in the middle. Also, try your best to point out when the other is going back to old ways. It’s never going to work if its only one person making all the effort. Starting couples counseling can help you find a way to express your feelings in the most constructive way, so use the help of a professional relationship therapist.

Ending Words

Relationships are a constant change perpetuated by both sides. In this blog post, I tried to give some considerations you should take into account before splitting up. If you answered negatively to these questions or believe that your relationship issues are unresolvable, then it is up to you to decide what the best course of action is for yourself and the relationship. But, if there’s a side of you that wants to give it another shot, I propose talking to a professional. Problems are not solved by themselves, but they do pile up. So, talking to a couple’s therapist can help you acquire communication skills that will better your relationship. And don’t forget – the first step is for both of you willing to put in the time and effort.

Begin Counseling for Relationship Issues in Baltimore, MD

Making the decision to split up or stay together can be difficult.  If you are on the verge of breaking up but want to try one more time before making a final decision, couples counseling and meeting with one of our therapists might be the best option for you. Our therapists want to give you the tools to have a satisfying relationship.

Other Mental Health Services Offered at New Connections Counseling Center

In addition to couples counseling, New Connections Counseling Center also offers individual relationship counseling.  Our inclusive therapists try to serve a range of populations through therapy for college students, women’s counseling, men’s therapy, therapy for sexual assault survivors, and LGBTQ therapy.  Our team also approaches therapy from an issue-specific standpoint by offering therapy for anxiety, depression counseling, counseling for life transitions, alcohol abuse treatment, EMDR therapy, and trauma therapy and PTSD treatmentNew Connections Counseling Center wants to help you heal and grow so you can live the most satisfying and authentic life to you. Schedule an appointment with one of our therapists today!

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About the Author:

Cathy Sullivan-Windt

Psychologist (Ph.D.) & Owner

Cathy is a licensed counseling psychologist with almost 20 years of experience. She specializes in women’s counseling, anxiety treatment, sexual assault recovery, life transitions, and relationship issues.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time in nature, traveling, reading, and being with her family and friends.

Read More About Cathy

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