Lest We Break Up
No one knows more how hard relationship can be. With my own xxxxx attempts and my 1000s of clients telling me their stories, I have a pretty good idea just how hard it is to make a good relationship work. But when do you know that it’s time to let go and move on? That’s the hardest question to answer.
The break-up is contingent upon the answer to three important questions:
1. Do both of you still have it in you to try with at least 95% faith?
2. Are both of you on the same pathway forward?
3. Has trust been broken beyond repair for one or both of you?
Let’s start with number one. I have seen two people who have had two years of fighting and separations mend fences because they both had the will to save their marriage. They looked into each other’s eyes and saw what they had seen when they first met. That spark of deep love and commitment was still there enough to fight for the relationship.
I guess I should define fight as well. To fight for a relationship usually means to go into therapy and find out what the problem is. Most people don’t really know what their problems are. They can’t communicate anymore and fight often. Something is amiss, and neither of them can figure out what went wrong and when it went wrong. They need someone to be a referee or a go-between to help redefine parameters in communication. Reconnecting the missing link in communication is usually the beginning of Bold Change for any relationship. Once you get past intimate communication, it is not long before sexual intimacy comes back to the relationship. And this is so important to create a solid bond of love and respect.
Number two is also very important. Two people can be 100% in to rejoining, but be on completely different pathways. For instance, I had 2 clients who wanted to continue to try, but one was a monogamist and one liked polygamy. There was no changing either of them in their desire to move forward in their sexual activity. So, divorce was their only option.
I know, personally, I couldn’t live with a polygamist. I actually have tried. He tried to change, but there was no making that happened. To me, all trust comes from the idea that you are the only one that your partner is being intimate with. But I know a lot of relationships that exist without that ingredient and are successful, so that is just me. Every relationship has it’s own foundation.
All that I’m saying is that the foundation of the relationship has to be similar at best, and even the same for the most successful relationship. People who have close binding relationships often have the same spiritual belief. This is a great way to find a partner as well. I notice that starting in a place where the foundation is already laid is a great beginning to a solid relationship. Spirituality, whatever your definition, is a perfect foundation for lasting relationship.
And three—the break-up. When is it too late to make amends? The best way to explain is to give you a few examples.
Tommy and James have been sleeping in the same bed for ten years, but haven’t touched intimately for the last three. They peck each other good night and live mostly like friends. Their day-to-day relationship is like a business more than like a couple. They function as a couple because of the memory of the years that have had together as a couple, not because of their present feelings. Neither of them have a true desire to break up because they are so entwined financially, but yet neither is happy.
They aren’t happy because neither is being satisfied on an intimate level. When asked separately if there is an attraction left, they say no. When asked what kind of communication they have, the answer is mostly fighting. When asked if either of themhave the strength to go to counseling to make a go of it, both answer no. This is the scenario for divorce.
I’ll give you another example. Joan and Mark have been married for 15 years and have 3 children. Mark finds out that for the last three years, when he leaves for work that Joan’s best friend Dawson comes over and has sex with her five days a week. How does he find this out? He comes home unexpectedly, because he’s sick and finds them having sex in their bed.
Joan is in love with Dawson, but feels stuck because of the children. No matter what… Mark should move on. I’m sorry, I may have a lot of people coming down heavy on me about this. Mark could be at fault in many ways. But this breach of trust is so bad that, personally, I could never, would never, be able to trust again. Children or no children, there will be a way to find counseling for them too. But Mark should be able to move on. Joan and Dawson, should they decide to stay together, should be able to move on together. The children will live through it. What the children won’t live through is deception and lying.
Children learn by example. Take them out of that scenario. Let them learn the right way how to deal with situations that are difficult and deserve strong change. Teach them examples of good boundaries so that they can learn to make them on their own.
The last example I’ll give is scary one. It’s one that comes into my office the most. It is when a lovely human being, a compassionate human being is yoked to a narcissist. I don’t know that I have ever heard of a narcissist being cured of this behavior. Narcissistic behavior is defined as self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder. It is also defined in Psychology as extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.
When living with a narcissist, everything becomes eschew in the other partner’s mind. You feel as if you are going crazy. A master controller is controlling everything in your life. In this scenario, there is no other way but out. Narcissists don’t go to counseling to get healed; they go to get justified for their behavior. When they don’t get justified, they leave. Nothing is their fault. And they will fight you until you are blue in the face and you will find yourself saying you are wrong. I’ve been there, done that. Won’t go back.
I have talked with many of my psychologist and therapist friends about this. They all feel the same. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist you are either a co-narcissist or you are bold enough to get a divorce. It’s pretty simple.
I know there are plenty of other scenarios. In my book, Your Gay Friend’s Guide to Understanding Men, I share a lot more thoughts about separation. You can pick the book up on Amazon, if you’re interested.
Have a pleasant and wonderful day. Keep your chin up. Most importantly, believe that you have the strength to make great and safe boundaries in your life that will lead you to safety and healthy intimate and social relationships.
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