Ending Relationships Too Soon?

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.

The legacy of our parents relationship.

When two people meet and then develop a relationship, they may not fully realise how their family history is going to play a big part in how their relationship develops. Sometimes we can be lucky, and the person we adore comes from a similar background to us, and for both people, their parents had similar relationships and values. But what happens when this is not the case?

It can cause problems later in the relationship when the early euphoric feelings settle, and the difference is noticed and starts to cause friction. One person feels that money and bank accounts should be jointly held by both, the other person is aggressively independent around ‘their’ finances. In another couple, one feels there should be very fixed roles around housework, the garden and the cooking. Another feels a more flexible shared role is better. For another couple, one has fixed ideas on parenting, the other has opposite views.

When couples come to us at The Relationship Centre, they present these problems as being their partners problem. They express that their partner just isn’t doing it right, and it’s them that needs to change! We help explore how for the pair of them, their role models in how to do a relationship was different, and when going into a their relationship, they have brought their parents ideas on how it should work.

Once they can start to explore this, and understand how the dynamics have been playing out, they have more chance of seeing how best to form their relationship, rather than copy their parents model, and hopefully they find a way that works for both of them.

So what parts of your legacy is acting out in your relationship?

Relationship Tip; Communication

Relationship Tip; Why communication is the key. Here at the Relationship Centre, we often see that couples who come to us have lost the art of communication. Let’s face it, it’s hard to communicate with your partner when you feel hurt, angry and unloved. We have to introduce a way that will allow them to start talking with each other, rather than at each other.

We ask them to try the communication tool below. It’s not easy at first, but we find couples get better at using it, and then suddenly they feel they are listened too, and feel more connected. This is a powerful way of developing a relationship, even when you feel there are little wrong with it.

Talk Only When Calm.

This approach can only work when both of you feel emotionally calm. If you decide to talk and one of you starts to feel angry/frustrated/sad, then it’s important that you have an agreement that if one of you feels this way, you take a ‘time-out.’

This should ideally be 30 to 60 minutes, or maybe you need the rest of the day, but you go away and do something that calms and soothes you, and then it’s important that you re-visit the conversation again (within 24 hours ideally) and re-visit as many times as you need to complete the conversation while you’re both feeling calm.

Step 1. Talk about your feelings. Use the word “I” rather than “you” and, your partner won’t feel attacked, criticised or blamed.

For example; “I’m feeling sad and angry……”

Step 2. Talk about the situation that has caused your feelings, again avoiding any blame towards your partner.

For example; “I’m feeling sad and angry because I thought you were arranging a night out, and I was looking forward to you doing it”

Step 3. Tell your partner what you need.

For example; “I’m feeling sad and angry because I thought you were arranging a night out, and not going out is the thing that’s made me feel this way. What I need is for you to understand my feelings and arrange a night out tomorrow?”

Rather than a harsh, critical statement, such as; “typical, I knew you would forget and not arrange anything, you’re useless, you make me so angry, you never think of me!”

The other partner needs to listen, without defending, or getting ready to have their say, but to summarise and validate with their response:

“I can appreciate that you’re angry, and I’m sorry that I forgot. I can hear that it’s important to you, and I will book a night out for tomorrow instead”

This can take practice, but the more you try the better you get!