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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Your Relationship: Should You Stay or Should You Go?

When you're in a relationship, one of the most difficult decisions you might have to make is whether you should stay or go.  

Every relationship has it's ups and downs. It's not unusual to go through rough patches, especially in the course of a long-term relationship. Many couples weather these rough patches and their relationships are ultimately strengthened for having gone through a difficult time in an otherwise good and stable relationship. But there are times when it's not always so clear whether the emotionally healthy response is to persevere in the relationship or whether it's time to leave. This dilemma might be further complicated by whether the couple has small children, particular religious views, complicated economic factors or an overall ambivalence about the relationship.

No One Knows Better than You What It's Like to Be in Your Relationship
Of course, no one can tell you what's right for you. Well meaning friends and family members might give advice but, ultimately, no one really knows what it's like for you to be in your relationship, except you. There are certain circumstances where it's clear that you need to leave. For instance, if either you or your children are in danger due to domestic violence, you have a right and responsibility to protect yourself and your children from harm. But many other problems in relationships aren't so clear.

Dealing with Infidelity
When there have been serious breaches in trust, it's often hard to know if trust and confidence in the relationship can be restored. For instance, when one or both people have cheated, this usually does significant damage to the relationship. Some couples are able to work through this problem, but many others don't. Another complicated problem is when there have been lies or manipulation about money. How do you know if your partner will change? Can you forgive him or her over time or will there always be doubt, worry, and anger that it could happen again. These aren't easy questions to answer.

See my article:  Coping with Infidelity

Are You Afraid to Be Alone?
Are you afraid to be alone and, if so, how much of a factor is this in your decision to stay or leave the relationship? Are you afraid of being lonely? Do you have doubts that you'll ever meet anyone else again and you'll be alone forever? How much is a possible lack of self confidence factoring into your decision process?

Are You and Your Spouse Drifting Apart in Your Relationship?
Over the course of a long-term relationship, many people start to drift apart. They might be living in the same household, but they're emotionally disengaged. A certain amount of denial may have set in where one or both people avoid dealing with this problem. Over time, this experience can leave you feeling empty and emotionally unfulfilled. Is it possible to revive your relationship? Are you and your spouse both willing to try? Or has this situation eroded the relationship to the point where it can no longer be revived?

An Emotional Dilemma
It's impossible to raise all the possible problems and questions in one blog post that might be a part of your decision as to whether you should stay or leave your relationship. One important thing to realize is that you're not alone in your emotional dilemma. Many people have faced this challenging and heart breaking problem in their relationships.

Getting Help
Getting help, sooner rather than later, can make a significant difference to you and your partner. Working with a couples counselor that you both feel comfortable with often helps. The couples counselor can't tell you what to do, but a skilled couples counselor can facilitate the communication process so that you can either work through your problems, if they're workable, or separate in the most amicable way possible..

What if your spouse refuses to participate in couples counseling? It's not unusual for one person to be willing and the other person to refuse. The decision to start couples counseling isn't easy, and the thought of talking to a stranger about intimate problems can be daunting. If your spouse is unwilling to even come to a consultation with a couples counselor, you can seek help on your own. In fact, many people seek help in individual therapy because they want to try to figure out for themselves first how they feel before they begin couples counseling. For other couples where the dynamic between them is so heated and contentious, they each need to go to individual therapy for a period of time because nothing productive can be accomplished together in couples counseling.

Taking the First Step 
Taking the first step is often the hardest part. Couples counseling or individual psychotherapy is a commitment and this often scares people off from taking that first step to get help. But rather than getting overwhelmed before you start, you can set up a consultation without any obligation to continue if you and/or your partner don't want to continue. You might consider meeting with a couple of therapists to see which one feels most comfortable to work with on your relationship issues. The important thing is to take the first step.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist who works with individuals and couples. I have helped many people, both individuals and couples, to work through problems in their relationships.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up an appointment for a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.

Also see my article:  Are You Too Afraid to Leave an Unhappy Relationship?