When you don’t agree the relationship is over
This is very hard because whilst one of the parties has recognised, accepted and decided they wish to remain disconnected from the relationship the other partner may not necessarily be on the same page, this could be because they were completely in denial about the disconnection occurring or because even though they’re aware of the disconnection they do not want to give up on the marriage, for them giving up is simply not going to be an option and they will do anything to try and save the marriage.
It’s an admirable display of loyalty and commitment but it takes both partners to want to make it work and unless the the person disconnecting feels the same way then its a pretty futile path to travel, you are simply delaying the inevitable.
It takes a lot of work to get a relationship back on track when its derailed and it takes a huge amount of commitment and desire so if only person’s heart’s in it then the outcome is bleak.
So lets look at this from both parties point of view:
If You are the person who is leaving the relationship
This is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place and people deal with this very differently and yes there is a positive way and a negative way, depending on which path you chose will dramatically alter the state of emotions that are at play now and moving forward.
The positive way would be spend some time with your partner, alone without any distraction and explain that the marriage isn’t making you happy, explain your reasons as to why and be honest, your partner deserves your honesty.
If you have decided that there is no way back you must stay true to your conviction and make it clear that you are seeking a separation and that you’d like it to be as amicable as possible.
I split from a long term partner recently and our goodbye was really beautiful, we both had exhausted our desire to make each other happy and we said goodbye appreciating all that was good that we’d shared but accepting that we’d reached the end of our journey, it was terribly sad and so it should be, we’d shared so much together and it was going to be hard to live without each other but for our greater good we needed to walk away and give each other the opportunity to be happy independently.
This isn’t about what the past has or hasn’t mean’t, this isn’t about under valuing the past its about valuing the future and making a decision to take positive action.
How your partner reacts is out of your control but you can from your part know that you have been as honest and true to yourself and indeed your partner as you possibly could’ve been.
As much as it will be painful to experience face to face your partner’s response its important that you tell them your truth- even if you think it will hurt them, they will heal far quicker and you will have a far better chance of coming through this amicably if you deal in the truth.
Its counter intuitive perhaps but when dealing with the truth you will need to go to places you’d rather not but as long as you’re constructive with the truth you will have done all you can to respect your partner and the relationship you’ve shared.
Can a relationship really end amicably after having a honest and truthful exchange ? Yes it can and its obviously the optimum way to try and dissolve a partnership, but what if after declaring your feelings your partner doesn’t want to accept this and pleads for you to try again, they may be desperate to try and make it work for the sake of children, family etc so when faced with this how should you best handle this ?
This is your decision, you will either feel there still mileage in the tank and decide to invest more time and energy into saving the relationship in the hope that your declaration will aid to improve what it was that you were struggling with or if not and you know you’ve checked out for good then you must stick to your guns and stick with your plan to leave.
Whatever you decide you must fully accept the consequences of your actions, yes initially it will be emotionally very demanding but by being honest and respectful you will exit the relationship knowing that you did all you could to minimise the suffering and pain for your partner.
The truth can and will hurt more than lie but its a clean cut and will be easier to heal from because you won’t have a hundred different questions swirling around your head that you’ll spend the next few weeks, months or even years trying to find the answer to, the truth really does set you and your partner free.
And the negative way
I’ve always thought you can’t help how you feel but you can help what you do about it, if you fall out of love with someone theres not a whole lot you can do about it but you can manage how you exit the relationship with your partner so that their self respect and dignity remains intact.
I had a client who’s husband during an exit talk remarked that he’d always found her to be too tall and never really liked her northern accent which is quite bizarre being as she hadn’t grown in height in the years since they married or adopted a northern accent so it seemed incredibly immature and idiosyncratic to use these comments to try and justify his actions as if comments like that could ever really be a justification anyway,
It’s enough to explain the situation from a place of truth, you don’t need to completely destroy your partners self esteem or create a bigger badder version of events to justify your exit from the relationship.
I always think that if you can look back on your marriage with balanced eyes recognising that there were good times as well as bad then you will find it easier to accept and move on from its ending, denying either will only serve in keeping you stuck in either regret or resentment.
My client and her partner could’ve dissolved their marriage and still retained positive and fond memories their marriage but sadly these negative comments did nothing but make my client wonder if her husband’s feelings were ever genuine.
If you can be anything Be dignified
Another pretty abhorrent way to try and end a relationship is by treating your partner badly in the hope that they will call time on the marriage to save you being seen as the baddy , this is a very cowardly and cruel thing to do to your partner and you can cause serious long term psychological damage playing these kind of head games.
For the most part we all try to do the best we can in our relationships but if that’s not enough for a relationship to survive then that’s the simple reality of the circumstances however showing respect by being honest with the person you chose to spend a period of your life with is the right and honourable thing to do even if it means you having to admit behaviours that cause you to feel shame or guilt.
I have been on the end of this tactic and it left me thinking that I was literally going mad, was this all my fault ? had I single handedly caused this breakdown in the relationship ? Was I so disgusting and unattractive that no-one in the right mind would sleep with me ? want to talk to me ? eat with me? Spend their life with me ?
I experienced a complete freeze out to the point that I had no option but to call a day on the relationship and it wasn’t until some time after that I realised this was simply a very devious tactic to get me to end the relationship to save my partner being seen as the big bad wolf but big bad wolf he was as the whole time he had another little red riding hood waiting at the other end of the forest.
It was so hideous I can but make a joke of it, in hindsight its so easy to see but at the time I just played straight into his hands, or paws, but how did it leave me ?
Not only heartbroken that the relationship was over but also with my self esteem and self respect completely battered and trampled on and in many ways I think it took longer to reinstate those than it did heal from the break down of the marriage.
What do I wish ?
I wish that he would’ve sat down and explained how he felt, that our relationship wasn’t making him happy and that he felt we both needed different things from a marriage, it would’ve been hard but I would’ve listened and I would’ve accepted this for what it was and got on with moving forwards with my life.
I would’ve been upset, angry even but I would heal from that given time and support however what I would go on to find extremely hard to heal from is the emotional and physical desertion that occurred without explanation and the hammering that my self esteem and self respect took.
I was still all the things I ever was yet I felt invisible, I no longer trusted my own judgment or could follow my gut instinct as I’d be manipulated to such a degree that I wasn’t sure of anything anymore.
That’s the result of this kind of exit tactic, long term and irreparable emotional and psychological damage. Does your partner deserve that ? It also doesn’t help with your relationship going further should you have children together or shared friendship groups. The truth no matter how harsh is something we can all process however lies and manipulation create a pandoras box of questions that for some will never be answered creating a sense of unfinished business within the soul and that sadly is very hard to eradicate, its like ivy that slowly creeps over everything you touch and never destroys it by strangling it at its source.
The other thing I’ve seen which is very destructive is when the person disconnecting feels guilty about their actions and then tries to temporarily placate their partner by giving them false hope that there could be a future for the relationship after all, if you know in your heart its over you’re only serving to hurt them more by doing this.
I know a husband who told his wife it was over and he’d met someone else , only to go to bed with her when she pleaded for him to stay, he then went on to go backwards and forwards for a number of weeks sleeping with both his mistress and his wife trying to avoid the final confrontation that would occur when he left he finally found the gumption to leave for good.
In my opinion this was the cruelest thing he could’ve done to her as not only gave her false hope but also screwed up her self esteem when he finally decided to leave her and their three children for his much younger mistress.
If he had of sat her down and explained his feelings from a place of truth I think whilst It would still have emotionally destroyed her it would’ve been kinder to her self esteem and self respect, she deserved to have her dignity left intact yet by the end of all this she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and headed straight into stage two Combustion with rockets strapped to every limb..
Be honest yet considerate and stick to your guns, you are being kinder in the long run, if you’ve ever cared about the person you were in a relationship with then don’t give them false hope as you’re only serving to elongate their suffering. If you don’t want them them let them go, people are not possessions.
And you must also be true to yourself and what you want and need for your own happiness, you yourself also deserves to live the life you want and need so don’t take prisoners, that’s all they’ll ever be from your part and theirs if you continue to live a lie.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with ending a relationship, however there is something wrong in unnecessarily destroying the person ’s self respect and dignity in the process.
Next post we'll be delving into this a bit further.....