Sunday, January 10, 2010

YOU ASKED FOR IT: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

One of my readers suggested this topic, " How do you know when to end a relationship?" I'm surprised I haven't spoken on this before. I guess that's because my intention is for relationships to work out. However, sometimes they don't, and then it's time to split. Let me first say that if you are in a relationship in which you are being mistreated, and forgiveness isn't a realistic option ( see my posting of 10/1/07, Forgiveness ), you should consider ending it sooner rather than later.

Most relationships that you choose start out being fun, but too often they go bad. You do want to get to know the person as well as possible before committing yourself to them. However, as soon as you see it's not working out the way you want/need for it to you have to take action. The sooner the better. Talk about what you see happening. The two of you commit to making some changes, even if you're partner is happy with the way things are. If you are not happy in the relationship, then something is wrong that the TWO of you have to fix. You are not responsible for your partner's happiness. We are responsible for our own feelings. However you are responsible for, and have made a commitment to the relationship, and to making it work FOR BOTH OF YOU. You're both responsible, 50 - 50 (mostly), for what happens in the relationship. And you, individually, give 100% to making it work.

Many people say they've done "everything" thing they could, "tried everything," and it still doesn't work. Before splitting, try counseling. Another perspective on the relationship can help you see how you're both still contributing to the problems. Usually it's bad habits that the two of you have developed with each other, that continue to undermine your efforts. I often suggest that the couple identify 2 or 3 things about your partner that you like and want them to keep doing; a couple of things that you don't like and want them to stop doing; and a few things that you want them to start doing. Choose 1 in each category to start working on. Choose a time frame, maybe 3 to 6 months, to see some effort and change. Determine that at the end of that period, if things are still not working, that you consider changing the relationship, for example trial separation or something more permanent. Of course, during that time you want to communicate as much as possible, without arguing (after all what's the use in arguments at this point), about progress (or lack thereof) that you see. Progress should include improved communication and trust (two of the biggest complaints I hear from couples), improved expression of love (see my blog of 9/22/07. All You Need Is Love), and improved feelings of happiness and optimism.

If you decide to split, it should be with mutual agreement. Especially if you have kids, you want to be able to maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship. I have seen, and continue to see parents who are angry and antagonistic towards each other be unaware of the damage being done to their kids (even though it is obvious). That is very sad. A happy relationship is the best thing you can have in your life. You deserve to have it. Do what you need to do to fix yours, or find the right one.

Friday, January 1, 2010


I'm sure you're thinking that I have come up with a new way to get you to promise to do some things in 2010 that you really won't be able to do. No. I'm not. I believe that resolutions, promises you make to yourself (and sometimes others) and then usually break, are not what I want us to do this year. That has become a bad habit that we've developed, that gets triggered by the New Year. Also, I heard on the news that 35% of people make New Years resolutions (I'm sure more than that at least think about making a few), and only 8% keep them. That stinks! So I'm going to suggest, NO resolutions this year, go ahead and live your life.
I am continuing to encourage you to think (some) about the choices you make, and the short and long term effects of your actions. Of course we don't feel great about all of the decisions that we make, but make them CONSCIOUSLY. That would mean not automatically lighting a cigarette as soon as you get in the car. Think about it first. The same with having that last drink "for the road" before leaving your friends' house. It means thinking about what you're doing, when you allow your partner or your kids to talk disrespectfully to you. Also not just automatically being rude (or mean) to someone, especially someone you love.

This approach to life helps you be more responsible for your behavior. No more, "I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking." You won't have to feel like: "Wow, I gained those extra 20 pounds before I knew it." You'll know. You will also be more aware, more focused, and I think more confident as you make things happen in your life. You'll be happier with yourself, and the people that you choose to spend your time with. So I would say for 2010, to Live Your Life! Have a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year, if you choose to.

Look what we did...