This is what I said to a lady who asked me that very question.
Many couples are suffering year after year unsure what to do. They have so much invested in their marriage but they cannot escape a fundamental fact.
They feel unhappy when they are with their partner and it’s been getting worse.
Many of these people tell me they stayed because of the kids. Some stay because they are financially stuck and others are fearful of divorce or what their life will be like after it.
Many of these people have lost connection with who they are or what they believe in.
Some just try to get through one day at a time looking forward to time on their own or time away from their marriage.
Some are emotionally detached or numb some have lost love or don’t find their partner attractive anymore.
Some are fed up because they have been held back, some are tired of the negativity, some struggle with the lying so are tired of not trusting and now they are exhausted.
Whatever they are experiencing they are fundamentally unhappy and are stuck not sure how to take a step forward they are lost in a maze of uncertainty.
She was considering a divorce
I remember one lady came to see me with many of the problems illustrated above.
She knew her relationship had died but she was stuck not sure what to do.
I told her that my job was NOT to fix her relationship or tell her to leave.
My job was to help her understand her marriage and why it had gone wrong and what she could do about it if she wanted to.
I shared with her that I could see she had lost connection with herself to the point she had no confidence in herself or her decisions.
I shared with her I could see she was a pleaser and this trait was very different from someone who is a contributor because a healthy contributor remains connected to themselves and what’s important to them.
Her actions clearly indicated she didn’t value herself and hadn’t for a good portion of her marriage.
I shared with her the foundation of a great marriage is when the individuals become a team, where both people are individually 100% responsible for the state of the marriage.
The marriages that are failing always have one or both people blaming the other for their relationship problems.
“We have never been team and we are always blaming each other.” She replied.
I then shared with her that I bet you and your husband are at core loving caring people, yet you lost that connection with yourself as loving people when you are with each other.
So you are telling me you are not a team and never have been, at core you are two loving people who have switched off that part of yourself when you are with each other.
I then said, “are you aware if you stop being who are and what you value that alone will help you to suffer with your relationship with yourself?”
She simply stared at me.
You have given me a story of incompatibility and I agreed that’s true, but only because you both lost sight of who you both are.
Any couple that stops being themselves will become naturally incompatible.
What we don’t yet know is what would happen if you learnt how to become what you valued and reconnected to yourself how would that change the dynamic?
What if you also discovered what it really took to become a team and take 100% responsibility for the marriage?
What if you stopped the judging and the blaming?
What if you both took the time to focus on what your partner was really going through and embraced your differences instead of using them as weapons?
Your differences are really your strengths, but you’re both clearly not seeing that yet.
What if you discovered you have been protecting yourself from someone who never intended to hurt you they just didn’t understand how you are so different to them.
I then said “I’m not saying you should be together, but with so much at stake and so many fundamental mistakes that you didn’t know you were making…
…wouldn’t what you are feeling today be the natural outcome of all those mistakes?
What if a divorce was not the solution. What if understanding was the solution that set you both free.
Wouldn’t it be safer to explore these critical areas of focus and discover with the right knowledge what your relationship is truly capable of achieving.
Then you can decide if what you have actually makes sense for the rest of your life or not?
This lady started to see there was more to their problems than she had ever considered.
She had overly simplified the problem.
She had been fearful that she would leave her husband, meet someone new and experience the same problems all over again, she was right to have that concern.
I shared with her that far too many people enter relationships with the wrong philosophy.
They go in looking for what they can get out of it and what they end up with is not very much and a world of suffering.
If you want a magnificent relationship then learning how to add value to it is critical.
You cannot add value to something and someone you don’t understand and sadly that is the problem most people face.
For those that have had enough of going round in circles the knowledge is there if you want it.