Helping you understand when it’s time to let go of your marriage or try again
Contrary to popular belief, the honeymoon period doesn’t last forever. Relationships often go through periods of highs, lows and everything in between. When it comes to a marriage, added pressures such as money, children, work stresses and conflicting schedules can take a toll. That’s why taking the time to be intimate and keep the flames alive can seem like an impossible task, and one that can lead to two people growing apart and wondering whether their marriage could and should last.
However, when is it time to call it quits? Are you just going through a rough patch, or is it time to let go and move forward with your life?
Here are 6 questions you should ask yourself before throwing in the towel.
1. Have you grown apart in love, friendship or respect?
Is it just physical distance keeping you apart, or have you fallen out of love? Are you coexisting as friends, or do you barely speak to each other? Are your interactions respectful or are they barbed and hurtful? Does the idea of being apart feel you with dread or relief?
If you mainly answered the latter’s, it might be time to admit that your marriage is facing a crisis point. A separation might be the healthiest option for both of you (before any resentment causes serious emotional harm); however, if there is still love, respect and a friendship worth salvaging, then it might be worth visiting a marriage counsellor to explore whether you can heal your broken relationship.
2. Is your happiness tied to your relationship?
This may sound like a strange question, but working out whether being in a relationship is what makes you happy (regardless of the dynamic), or if it’s the person you’re in a relationship with that makes you happy, you can work out whether it’s worth saving. Our happiness should never be intrinsically tied to another person, but if you’d rather be with someone than alone, then it’s a sign that your marriage isn’t healthy. On the contrary, if you’re able to find happiness outside of the relationship and the person you’re with still enriches you at times, then your marriage stands a fighting chance.
Alternatively, if you’re only happy when your partner is happy, then you could be in a co-dependant relationship, which would be worth exploring with a therapist so you can find your own happiness independent of your relationship.
3. Do you have serious doubts about leaving?
When our relationships are over, there’s rarely any doubt that it’s time to throw in the towel. However, if you’re in two minds and can’t work out the best course of action, it’s worth taking stock of what’s working and what isn’t in your marriage. Are you staying out of fear of being alone, the impact on the children, or financial issues? If so, they aren’t good enough reasons to endure an unhappy marriage. However, if you still have hope you’ll work things out or are worried you’ll be making a mistake you’ll regret, then you have valid reasons to fight for your marriage.
4. Is the lack of time with your partner the main issue?
Life inevitably gets in the way of most relationships. In short: you prioritise everything else and leave your relationship on the back burner. It’s normal. We can all start to take each other for granted and forgo intimacy in favour of other pursuits; and if that’s the main issue, then it’s an incredibly simple one to fix. Think about scheduling weekly date nights, having dinners at the dining table so you can have conversations, and engaging in open communication about what you’d both like to do together. Humans crave connection. Even a 20-minute cuddle every evening could be all you need to feel close again.
5. Are you both willing to fight for your marriage?
This is a big one. A marriage involves two parties. Unless you’re both willing to fix what’s wrong and make it work, it can’t and won’t. Sadly, two people aren’t always aligned in terms of wants and needs. It’s down to each of us to define our boundaries and work out exactly what we’re willing to compromise on and accept. Our happiness is down to each of us, and unless our partners are able to reciprocate our affections, our desire to make it work, and our hope for a better future, then it might be time to call it quits.
6. Has your relationship always been difficult?
When we’re in the honeymoon phase, we can often ignore all the red flags – or at least justify them in some way. However, after enough time, those issues start to become more noticeable. After several years together, what you let go at the beginning can come back to haunt you. This is a common issue and one that can feel jarring when you first become aware of it. However, you must ask yourself whether your marital problems are relationship specific or based on the notion that there’s something or someone ‘better’ out there for you. The grass is never greener, and although there may indeed be someone out there who has fewer annoying habits than your partner, you will eventually see issues with them as well. That’s why it’s important to ask yourself whether the issues you have are ‘non-negotiables.’ If you still enjoy spending time with your partner, laugh, had ‘it’ at some point and feel respected, your marriage can be saved.
For further information on when to know it’s time to leave your marriage, visit our help page here.