If someone ask us at the Relationship Centre, what changes have you noticed over the years with your couples and the issues they bring into therapy, the one thing that stands out to us is how more and more we are seeing couples where at least one partner wants to end the relationship, not because of an affair, or because they have fallen out of love, but more because it doesn’t reach that 100% mark they expect from it at all times. They may admit that the relationship is 80% good, and yet they still say they feel a better relationship is out there somewhere for them, and they need to end this one. The statement often heard is, “I love my partner, but I’m not in love with them.” Really what they are saying is they don’t have the same feelings they had years ago. Before they had children, mortgages, lack of time and illness.
Where has this more modern approach come from? Of course, society has changed. Women especially now can leave a poor relationship rather than endure it as ‘their lot.’ There are other factors. We live in a very quick society now, we can order goods at a click of a button and it arrives the next day, we need information and no longer need to wait for our local library to open and then travel there, we simply search the internet and get an almost instant answer. In the workplace, through emails and modern software, the pace is so much faster, and things change almost daily. Our brains are starting to lose the ability to slow down and wait, it needs everything now, and it seems, that includes a good relationship. If it’s not good, why spend months or even years trying to make it better? Surely the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence?
But is it?
Why not make the grass your side as green and lush as you can?
We often say the grass your side, to be green and lush, needs care. The lawn needs feeding and weeding, it needs regular cutting and trimming. If you haven’t been doing this, no wonder the grass on the other side looks greener. But then if you jump the fence and neglect the grass that side in the same way, it will end up the same.
So perhaps the key to not making a mistake and ending the relationship prematurely, is to try and feed, nourish and care for your relationship and partner and to make it as healthy as possible, rather than assume something better is around the corner. If you try this and it’s still not right, then at least in the future you will avoid those feelings of guilt and regret.
So how do you do this?
Although different for each couple, it might be worth thinking how things were when you first met. How you treated and cherished your partner. How you wanted to do things for them, and you were interested in them and their world. Did you buy them presents when you were apart, did you take them breakfast in bed, buy them flowers, kiss their neck, whisper love messages into their ear? When you argued did this bother you and did you want to make up or apologise?
By trying to introduce this again, the feelings you had might return. Your relationship can never be that magical thing it was when you first met. That was a false bubble where life was put aside for a while and this can’t be maintained. But your relationship with work can mature, become something different but just as rewarding. It just needs work and time to achieve this and both partners need to try, but it can be done.
We often introduce different ways they can do this during their counselling.
At least then, you’ve done your very best. If it still not right, then you can end it knowing this, rather than ending it due to a lack of effort or know-how.