I have a friend who tells me that I am the person she calls when she is on the verge of giving up on a relationship. She's ready to throw in the towel, she's had enough, she wants to find the door and leave. And then she calls me and I have most of the time told her to stay and keep fighting for the relationship and most of the time she does stay and winds up thanking me for it later.
Making the decision of whether to stay or leave a relationship is one of the hardest decisions a person can make especially when you've invested a lot of time and energy into the person you're with. Not only is it emotionally painful to say goodbye to a relationship but it's made all the more difficult if you share children, pets, a home, and financial resources together. It is not a decision to take lightly. To be honest, I could probably write 5 blogs on this topic but I'm going to at the very least try to give you some clarity about which direction to go in regards to your current relationship if you've been on that "should I stay or should I go" fence.
You may be wondering why I would tell my friend to stay in whatever relationship she was in at the time and keep pushing forward. The answer is actually more simple than you might think. She would call me complaining about an issue of some kind and I would simply ask her, "Have you talked to him about that and told him that it's bothering you?" Most of the time I would get the same answer: "...no." I would tell her to try talking to him about it and see what would happen. Sometimes she would and sometimes she wouldn't but either way, the message I was trying to get across was the same: THE PERSON YOU'RE WITH IS NOT A MIND-READER. Though you may think that's obvious, a lot of times we really wish they were and we treat them as such. We hope that they can figure out what's wrong and how to fix it without us having to tell them what the problem is, what our unmet needs are in the moment, and what they could do that might help resolve the problem. In other words, when our relationships are struggling, we retreat, hide, and go into our shell which only leads to the problem building and us growing resentful to the point where we've had enough. First major point here: do not leave unless you have actually effectively communicated what your concern is to your partner. If you're worried this might be a struggle for you, I highly recommend using the DEAR MAN skill to help you get your thoughts in order: https://www.mindfulnessmuse.co...
Now some of you may be reading this thinking to yourself, "Michelle, I've told my partner literally a thousand times what I'm unhappy with and nothing is different. I'm totally stuck." While I'm glad you're verbalizing your wants and needs, make sure you're following all the DEAR MAN steps in the link above (and talking about it with your therapist if you have one because they may be able to point out flaws in how you're communicating that you may not see). But if you are genuinely communicating in an effective, calm way to your partner about what you would like to see different in your relationship and there's no movement, there's definitely some further thinking to do here. Think about if you're really giving them enough time to make the changes you want. Some people have tons of patience and don't mind giving it months or even years to allow their partner to change. Some people want to give up if they don't see change almost instantly after telling their partner what they're unhappy about in the relationship (truth: that's most of us). At the very least, give them about 2 months (the research is mixed but that's about how long it takes to form a habit and do something different). Second major point: please, please, please if you start to see ANY change at all in a positive direction, hang in there and show them appreciation for it. If they are really trying, that's a positive sign your relationship is one worth staying in.
But if you're in the boat that none of us want to be in where you've told your partner what you would like to see different, you've waited around for quite some time and nothing is happening...especially if this has happened a few times with different changes you'd like to see...*sigh* it may be time to jump the fence to the side of going instead of staying. My therapist said something very profound to me once after I had told her that I really wanted to stay in my relationship at the time because I knew relationships took work and I wanted to dig in my heels and not give up. She said to me: "Michelle, relationships do take work, but they don't have to take THIS much work." She was right in my case. I was in that boat of finally getting around to voicing my needs to my partner, giving him ample time to make a change, working on myself in the meantime so that I was addressing my flaws, and...nothing.
Some people say there is a moment of clarity when you know a relationship is over. For some people yes, and for others no. Most people leave their relationships still being very much in love with the person but they feel spent and know they don't have anything left to give. Trust me: when you're in that place, you'll know it without a shadow of doubt, especially if it's a long-term relationship. The bottom line is this: when you agree to be in a relationship with another person, you both are making a commitment (whether you know it or not) to be flexible. To work together and adjust to the ups and downs of life as a team. To compromise and do your very best to make the relationship a healthy, strong one. This means that if your partner tells you something isn't working, you put both your heads together to figure out how to fix it and move forward. If you are with someone who will not work with you and won't put in the work to keep your relationship growing and evolving, then it's time to go. I wish for all of you out there to have a partner that works with you (even if they don't always jump on board immediately). To have someone who constantly strives to show you love and make a happy life with you every day (especially on the days where you both are worn out). Your partner may be far from perfect but if they listen to you with respect when you're frustrated with them and put in the effort with you to make your relationship better, don't give up. The journey is worth it with a partner like that.