Are Relationships Supposed to Last Forever?

I have coached many people through divorce and have been through a few of my own. In the doing I have learned much about the word forever. In the spiritual realm we seem to look at biblical scriptures for the man and wife paradigm to see what we look for as far as longevity goes in relationship. I can see that in the days of old, marrying a wife or two, establishing a large home and garden would have been the thing to do to create towns of allies and build prosperity. But for today, I wonder if relationship has to mean forever.

Let me just say that I’m not against the idea of forever. In fact, I would love for a relationship to be secure enough to last through the good and hard times. But as I have noticed in others lives and in my past relationships, there have been many times when my advice has been to walk away.

I’ll share some of the reasons I suggested that it is time to let go:

1. Martha came to me telling me of a time when her husband was kind and loving. She now says that he ignores her most days, has no interest in intimacy, and seeks to spend time away from her. When approached to see if he wanted to go to counseling, he adamantly says no. His approach to her has been verbally abusive. Her story includes times of leveraging money and support from her as a result of not doing what he tells her. In this case, I would not stay and wouldn’t recommend anyone else to stay. The partner has all but given up. He is just cowardly waiting for the wife to move away.

2. Johnson had been struggling with sexuality for a long time. He has been kind, loving and compassionate to his wife in all ways but intimately. He can’t seem to get aroused to have sex with her. She still loves him and he loves her. They have two children together and want to see both of them have at home parents. My question to both of them is: Can you be satisfied with a relationship with no intimacy, and for how long will that last?

If the couple is honest, most of the time, they realize that it is not fair to deprive either of them of the closeness of true intimacy. But sometimes they decide that cuddling and a great friendship is enough, especially until the children are old enough to understand the letting go.

However, if I detect a bit of undisclosed information from the man or woman and get either to admit that she/he has been having sex outside the marriage, I’m definitely going to suggest separation. I do this for a few reasons. I have had a client go away for business and come back with HIV. He would have exposed his entire family to it, had he not come clean with his wife. This goes with any other form of sexually transmitted disease. How fair is it to expose a loving partner to this?

This guy even went through treatment to get rid of his gay feelings (against my leading) and finally ended up divorcing, not by his choice. He wanted to be with his children. But he wasn’t willing to sacrifice sex and intimacy to do that. And he was dishonest with his partner, which is ultimately defacing the relationship.

3. Cathy and her partner Sabrina had been together for twenty years. They sleep in the same bed, do everything together, but haven’t had any kind of intimate behavior in ten years. They have no children together. They have pets and a home together. But they also don’t seem to have a lot of closeness. Cathy came to me in despair. She felt abandoned by her partner. They both came in for a couple’s session. Sabrina didn’t feel as if anything was wrong. She wanted to continue in their nonsexual relationship. Cathy, however, wanted to rekindle the past sense of loving touch and kissing. Sabrina wanted to have no part in it. The sexual part of her life, she said, was over. That was fine with Sabrina.

For Cathy, ten years younger, she was just beginning to feel comfortable as a lesbian and wanted to experience true intimacy and love. How can you deny that to any soul? I asked her to weigh all that she had with Sabrina and see if it was worth leaving to find true love. Ultimately, she left. I didn’t help her make that choice, however, I did support the decision.

4. Carl and Mary had been together only two years. Whenever they met it was love at first sight. They rushed through the initial stages of getting to know one another and ended up marrying after only three months. When they moved in together, Carl showed signs of narcissism and avoidant behavior. (If you are unfamiliar with these qualities, go to the main index of my blog and do a search.) He became verbally abusive, angry and avoidant where sex was concerned. This happened in a period of six months and seemed to be getting worse. They went to counseling (to a family therapist) and nothing seemed to be getting better. That’s where I came in.

Mary came to me, first, because she was the one who was unhappy. Carl seemed to be thriving in a place where he moved his wife to a different city, away from her family and friends and her own business, only to leave her abandoned emotionally and physically just to satisfy his own need to have a beautiful wife all to himself. He wanted to have children. Mary denied him of that until things became right in their relationship.

Normally, I would say that narcissism is incurable, but apparently he was willing take a good hard look at his behavior. He was advised by a therapist to take time away from the relationship and see if he really wanted it. If he did want to pursue the relationship, his therapist told him, Carl was going to have to make some behavior changes. Carl took three months off from his relationship and returned a different person. He has been nice, he listens, and he seems to be on his best behavior. But it has only been three months of living together.

I have told Mary that she needs to wait at least a year before trusting him not to return to the old behavior. Anyone can stay on his/her best behavior for a short time to get what he or she wants. It’s the long term that you have to be interested in. If he shows signs of being disappointed in the waiting for children and gets angry, it is a sure sign that his narcissism has gone nowhere but behind a big internal partition, waiting to come out like a lion when he doesn’t get his true desire. Trust me, it will be worth the wait for Mary.

As you can see, there are many reasons to leave an established relationship. But the most important reason to stay is true intimacy and a loving bond that can’t be broken by any indifference and challenge in the life of the couple. When I see this kind of secure relationship, I marvel at the stick-to-itiveness and true bond that glues a relationship together for the long haul. If you have security, no amount of lust and desire for outside companionship is worth sacrificing this kind of true love.

There is also some great advice in my book: “Your Gay Friend’s Guide to Understanding Relationship” found at http://www.amazon.com/Your-Gay-Friends-Guide-Understanding/dp/0984125876/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369753381&sr=8-1&keywords=your+gay+friend%27s+guide

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Bo Sebastian is a Hypnotherapist and Life & Health Coach, available for private sessions to QUIT SMOKING, Lose Weight, New Lap-Band Hypnosis for Weight Loss, CHANGE YOUR MIND, CHANGE YOUR LIFE! at 615-400-2334 or www.bosebastian.com.

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