No one begins a relationship or gets married with the expectation that things will end. Still, there are times during which relationships become a little more complicated than we want them to be – and it’s usually during those challenging times that people contemplate calling it quits. People start to question their past as much as their present and thoughts about the future – their future. While in the middle of something that doesn’t feel all that great at the moment – or possibly hasn’t felt all that great for some time – people tend to find themselves at the “proverbial fork in the road.”
Everyone knows that no two couples are the same. Heck – no two people are the same. But what people – couples – have in common with one another is the angst they are experiencing while in the throws of a not-so-great relationship. When they are on the fence and not sure which side to pick, they begin asking themselves, should I stay or should I go? If I walk away now, will I have regrets? Have I done everything I can? Where did it all go wrong? These questions are common and equally important because the degree to which couples can change greatly depends on individuals changes that both people need to make in order to determine the direction of their marriage. Its just that simple. To get stuck in the, “if he/she does this, then I will do that” or the traditional if/then situation – which never works because it keeps the couple stuck and creates a pissing contest. And do you really want to keep doing that? I didn’t think so
Even though it feels like an eternity to couples for couples on the brink, they can begin to gain momentum and make small changes to create a new path to help them decide the future of their relationship by asking them questions – questions that will help to slow things down and take a deeper, more exploratory approach to their relationship.
Key Questions to Ask yourself:
1.) What are the strengths of our relationship or marriage and can I draw on those strengths now? How could I use those strengths to overcome the strife in the marriage now? Will it be enough to save the marriage?
2.) What are the factors that you feel are the most difficult to overcome? Meaning – what are the “weakest links” in the relationship or marriage?. When couples experience relationship problems, it feels monumental to overcome any type of issue. Everything feels like the two parts of the couple are working hard to push a boulder up a hill – backwards. All we want is for the pain we are experiencing to go away. However, even though it might feel like those issues are hard to overcome, thinking about them and answering them – honestly – might provide a different answer, one that will be truly better in the long one.
3.) What have been 3 or 4 of the happiest times in your relationship or marriage? You should consider all of the time you spent from the beginning – when they first started dating. This is key because it’s rare that a couple cannot identify a happy time when they were dating. It’s difficult to identify these times when you are in a relationship that is causing you more unhappiness than happiness.
4.) What were two of the most difficult times in your relationship or marriage that you were able to overcome and why? How were you able to overcome them? Can you do that now? This question is important because not only does it go back to the strengths of your relationship, but it also forces the couple to remember the good times.
5.) What are two or three of the values that you and your spouse/partner still share in common? Values are the bedrock of a person. It’s how we live our life. Do you still share the same values and if so, what are they? How will they impact your decision to stay or go? What was lost?
6.) What would be the biggest loss if you became divorced or ended the relationship? When couples are married or coupled up for any length of time, there has been a huge investment in many different ways over that period of time. The loss would be experienced not just by the couple, but also by the family and friends that make up their community of people in their life. Couples start to think about the future and ending the relationship can often feel like a death.
7.) If I had my “perfect” relationship/marriage, what would that look like? If we both can make changes, can it change the direction of our marriage? Will that be ok with me? Are my expectations too lofty?
8.) What are two or three changes that I need to make to improve the marriage or relationship? How likely am I to make these changes? Do I want to? Do I have the energy? Am I invested in making those changes? Change starts with each person. It’s too easy – and incorrect – to say, if he/she did this, then I would change. It just doesn’t happen that way, and we can’t ask the other part of the relationship to change without making changes ourselves. Even though we wish it were so. We must be able to look at ourselves for change to occur.
Ending a relationship or marriage – especially a marriage – is in no way an easy decision. However, with every couple I work with I always ask them to think about the time they have invested to date and to consider this: isn’t your relationship or marriage worth taking the time to answer these questions to make sure that your final decision is one that you have truly considered so regardless of the path you choose, you have a clear conscious? Isn’t your relationship with it? Aren’t you?
Many things to think about before you pick a path..