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The question of whether to end a relationship, be it a 20 year marriage or a 5 year commitment, is a painful and complicated one. It is a question that often implies loss, fear of judgment, sense of failure, self-blame as well as glimmers of hope and change. At times we avoid this question, we ask others to answer it, we act on it impulsively, we never stop asking it or we recognize we have no choice – we have to ask it of ourselves. Here are some issues and underlying questions that you may find helpful as you consider this life decision. The Importance of Knowing Why You Want to Leave If you are thinking of leaving a relationship, it is important that you know why. Understanding your past and present informs the decisions you make for your future. No matter what the circumstances of the relationship you are ending, understanding it offers something valuable for you to know about you. How did the relationship go from awesome to awful? Why couldn’t you change him/ her – why did you think you could? What made the good times so good? What made the bad times so bad? What part did you play in the loss of hope in this relationship? The Importance of Your Partner’s Knowing Why Except in those cases where interaction and discussion could be dangerous, it is important for your partner to know why you are thinking of ending this relationship. The very thought of this may make you want to scream, “How could she/he not know?” The reality is that a painful familiar relationship is often preferable to change or the fear of being alone. Denial can be a powerful and long standing survival strategy. It makes communication crucial.
In the past few blog posts, we have considered disagreements and value conflicts between partners, envying your partner, understanding jealousy and identifying similar and opposite personality traits. Now we ask: Can you promote your partner’s ideal self? Can you help facilitate the dreams, traits, skills and resources your partner yearns to have as part of self? Understanding these questions involves recognizing the power each partner has in enhancing growth in the other and accepting the belief that the individual growth of each partner will benefit the couple . “ Did you want to play music your whole life?" “If you could do it again, would you study law?” “ I bet you always dreamed of owning a restaurant.”