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Should I End This Relationship?
By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
In the 35 years I've been counseling, thousands of couples have come to me wondering if they should end their relationship. Most of these people were in love at one point but are now really miserable with each other, or one partner is miserable with the other. Generally, they don't know what the real problem is. They know what they don't like about the other person. They know they can't communicate about what is important to them. They know they fight about money or sex or time or chores or hundreds of other things, or they ignore the problems and are distant. What they don't know is what the REAL problem is.
Leaving a relationship before knowing what the real problem is, is generally a waste of time (aside from domestic violence) - especially if you eventually want to be in another relationship.
The reason it's a waste of time is because whatever you are doing to create your unhappiness, you are not going to stop doing just because you leave the relationship. You take yourself with you when you leave, and unless you heal your part of the relationship problem, you will continue to behave in ways that eventually destroys relationships.
You might be surprised to learn that the time to leave a relationship is NOT when you are miserable, but rather when you are happy, joyful and peaceful. When you have learned how to make yourself happy and bring yourself peace and joy, and if your partner is still distance, angry, needy, disconnected, resistant, unloving, or acting out addictively - then it may be time to leave if that is what you want.
When I work with couples, I help each partner learn how to take full, 100% responsibility for their own feelings and needs. Obviously, if both people are behaving in ways that bring themselves joy, they will have a lot of love to share with each other. As long as they are stuck believing that their unhappiness of the other person's fault, they are being victims. As victims they want to control the other person and get them to behave the way they want them the behave. As victims, they are afraid of being rejected or controlled, and are behaving in ways to protect themselves from what they fear. All the ways they are trying to have control over not being rejected or controlled are creating the relationship problems.
Until you become aware of how you are being a victim and how you are trying to control your partner - and you are successful in taking care of your own feelings and needs - there is no point in leaving.
Most people who are unhappy in their relationship are reactors. They are reacting to the other person's controlling behavior with their own controlling behavior. For example:
Each of these people are reacting in controlling ways, rather than acting in ways that take loving care of themselves. Both people are participating in creating a negative circle. Generally, they then blame the other for their own reaction: "If you wouldn't criticize, then I wouldn't withdraw." "Well, if you wouldn't withdraw, then I wouldn't criticize." "If you weren't so resistant, I wouldn't get angry." "If you weren't so angry, I wouldn't resist."
If they were to act in loving ways toward themselves rather than react in controlling ways toward their partner, then:
There is no point in leaving a relationship until you have learned to act in ways that are loving to yourself and your partner, instead of reacting in controlling and resistant ways. Leaving only delays this learning until your next relationship.
About The Author
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?" and "Healing Your Aloneness." She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Learn Inner Bonding now! Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com or mailto:email@example.com. Phone Sessions Available.