Recently one of the readers of Talk2Momz asked if I would write an article on how to tell when a relationship is over. Well, there are as many relationships as there are couples on the planet, so covering that subject from a “when this happens you will know it’s over” or “you can still make it if you see this” is not something I would attempt. But we can have a little conversation about it.
When I was going through a difficult time, a friend of mine gave me some wise counsel. It stuck with me. She said that the emotional suffering we give ourselves is within the ‘expected obligation’ modal verbs… would’ve, should’ve, could’ve, ought to, have to, got to, and I would add to her list, supposed to. If you’re wondering about your own relationship, listen to the words churning around in your head and see how much they have to do with expected obligations.
When you expect, you set yourself up for emotional suffering. Keep in mind too that you are giving yourself this emotional suffering. Another person cannot make your feelings hurt or get you angry. You get hurt or angry all by yourself – it comes from within you when you are emotionally attached to a past injury, or when someone contradicts your ego’s opinion of how things should be, or could have been, or ought to be.
Now you might argue that your marriage or partnership is a promise and promises create obligations. You feel you have a right to expect certain things from your partner. How about this? I’ll give you a positive, substitute word: responsibility. You both have a responsibility. Ditch the expected obligations. Life is a flow… constantly changing. You will meet many unexpected situations to which you are not obligated. But you are responsible. You are responsible for communicating, adapting, doing your best, telling the truth, being kind, understanding needs, supporting and sacrificing, and sometimes stepping off if what is happening is more harmful than it is good.
The nitty gritty of a relationship is in its foundation: what was your initial agreement, both spoken and unspoken. Can you identify it? Was it sexual attraction, a desire for children, a need for financial security, someone to ‘complete’ you, shared virtues and ideals, a desire for companionship, shared likes and dislikes, shared religious beliefs, family and cultural pressure, or even true love? People get together for all these reasons and many more.
When you look at the list you can pretty much figure out which ones may have a short shelf life, which ones may break up in the middle, and which ones may last and be rewarding into old age.
People change and grow, sometimes at different speeds or in different directions. We’re here to change – it’s natural and it’s essential. To grow, learn, and experience, is to evolve. What else are you here for? When a couple grows, learns and evolves together, it’s a beautiful thing. When they don’t, it leads to the question: Is this relationship over?
My initial thought when presented with the question was: if you’re asking, you’re on the way to over. If you both don’t want that to happen, start to bring the relationship back by letting go of emotional attachments to past injuries, and dropping the ego’s opinion of how things should be. Real life will seldom support your ego’s opinion. So what can you do? Change your opinions and focus on the now. Work on yourselves. If it’s worth it, then it’s worth working on it daily.
If only one of the partners wants to end the relationship, then it’s still over. Why would you want to be with someone who wishes to move on? Can you visualize a good outcome if you force them to stay somehow? Yes, there is a loss when someone who was with you is no longer with you. You are allowed some sad songs, but who knows… as you move on you may realize they did you a big favor. They made you change your life and the only way that’s bad is if you make it so. Keep your dignity and be fair with your former partner. Trust in yourself, trust in life, and know for sure that all relationships are for our growth. Learn and grow.
If you’re the one that wants to move on, do so with courage. Let go of the guilt, offer no dissertations, no accusations, and no false hopes. Take care of your responsibilities with consideration, equity and understanding. Yes, it may be a drag if you have a long line of people who don’t get what you’re doing, but you decided, and it is your life… living it involves being authentic. “Till death do you part” doesn’t include spiritual death. If your spirit is going dead inside your relationship, you will know it. Spirit is the one thing you don’t want to lose – it’s what you are!
Now here’s a situation I don’t even like to think about, but so many need help with this that it has to be spoken of. If you are reading this article, and you are dealing with physical abuse to yourself or the children, or verbal violence and emotional abuse, please ask for help. Do not keep it to yourself. No matter what you might think you did to deserve it, you can come to an understanding of that idea later. Just ask for help now. Get into a position of safety and then begin to seek solutions.
I realize that this is a brief and simple response to very complex life stories. I’d ask you to remember that your story is just a story – it’s one of billions of stories. What your story has taught you about yourself, and life itself, is what matters. Let everything you encounter be information that you apply to your next experience.
You can make the next chapters of your story more beautiful by taking the inner journey – refining your feelings and your energy. Remember, the goal is an open heart and an evolving spirit. There is a road that goes in that direction and there is help along the way. You are capable of finding your way to it, or even drawing it to you. That’s the way it works. So trust, and go for it… if you will.
“I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost
My new book is now available… you can read a few pages, the description and the reviews at the link below!