The pandemic has produced a whole host of pressures and decisions couples have never had to consider, straining even strong partnerships.
Until now, you never would have considered ending your relationship.
Sure, there were things that felt less than perfect, but after your third fight this week and another sleepless night, you can’t help but wonder “Should I leave my relationship”?
When the pandemic hit, most couples were forced to spend more time in the same space…..a lot more time.
But rather than drawing the two of you closer, it’s as though all this “togetherness” highlighted the things that bothered you most about your spouse and your relationship with them.
While you were locked down together, you were just trying to survive the stress of the pandemic. You focused on trying not to lose it on the kids or your spouse while your anxiety level went through the roof.
What bothers you most now, as you think back, is how alone you have felt these past few months.
Cooped up in the house together, it was plain to see how distant and disconnected you’ve become. You feel like nothing more than room mates co-existing in the same space.
Now that some of the restrictions have begun to ease, you have started contemplating whether this relationship is what you really want.
You are left with this nagging, unanswered question, “Should I leave my relationship?”
5 Things to Consider Before Leaving Your Relationship
You’ve probably heard this a thousand times, but here it is again: Relationships are tough and they require constant work. You and your partner have to be ready to put in the work every single day.
However, the global pandemic has also prompted many people to experience a relationship wake up call and re-evaluate if they should leave the relationship.
Here is a list of 5 Important Questions for You to Answer These questions will give you a clearer picture of whether of not you should leave your relationship.
1. Do you feel safe in the relationship? – In your relationship, you should have a sense of safety and security. Does it feel like your partner is there for you and would stick with you through tough times? If it is difficult for you to answer ‘yes’ this question, try talking to about the concerns you have and what causes to believe that they would not stay with you through thick and thin.
Sue Johnson, psychologist and relationship expert noted, “It is the fact that in times of crisis and danger our attachment system is primed to search for comforting contact. Suddenly our vulnerability is impossible to deny or put aside.
The key relationship defining questions “Are you there for me-Can I count on you” are front and centre. And, if the answers to these questions are negative or ambiguous, our nervous system tells us we are in trouble.
2. Do you support each other – As humans, we rely on our romantic relationships to provide us with some level of encouragement and support. Feeling alone in a relationship some times is normal, but if your relationship is fraught with anxiety and disagreements, no wonder you are considering leaving your relationship.
Sue Johnson, psychologist and relationship expert, notes that the main resource our species has learned to rely on is the support of a loved one to whom we are precious.
Our brains go into what she call attachment panic, and we either try to strong arm our partner into responding, or begin to totally numb out and shut down emotionally.
3. Do your plans and visions for the future align? – To feel a sense of certainty about your commitment, you need to see a way ahead together with a vision and goals for the future.
A recent paper in the journal Lancet points out that humans have a long history of breaking down emotionally during quarantines and pandemics. Symptoms of isolation-induced distress may include emotional detachment from others, irritability and exhaustion. “I want out” is something couples may say in desperation when feeling trapped by a seemingly inescapable and interminable pandemic.
Check in with yourself; is the feeling of “if only I could escape this relationship” driven by pandemic frustration or is it because you and your partner have grown in different directions and have your own plans and visions for the future.
4. Are your arguments healthy? – Arguments are normal, but how you argue matters. Are you able to keep your arguments from getting out of hand, find a way to calmly discuss and reach a solution? You need to argue in a way that makes both parties feel heard.
You have no idea why things seem to go sideways in your conversations. Truthfully, you are confused about why you consistently misunderstand each other.
If all couples argue, why do some couples end up getting more and more distant and pissed off with each other while others seem to be able to work it out?
The short answer is that couples can get stuck in a negative pattern of reacting (triggering) each other that they don’t know how to get out of. This is often a strong indicator of the need for couples counselling. However, if things get violent often, then you need to rethink things.
5. Are you sexually compatible? – Sex is important in any romantic relationship. Are you physically attracted to each other? Do you agree on issues relating to sex such as when and how it occurs?
Sex can be one of the most difficult topics for a couple to talk about. It’s a great idea to create a safe space in your relationship where you can openly talk about your sex life.
If you answered yes to most/all of the questions above, then you and your partner are probably in a great place.
If not, carefully reflect on the questions and try revisiting them with your partner before making a final decision to leave your relationship.
It might also be a great idea to meet with a skilled therapist to help you individually as you reflect on these questions.
If you’re struggling with the decision to leave your relationship, and need a therapist to talk to, please give me a call. If you would like to explore if couples counselling may the right path, I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.
Marcy is a Clinical Social Worker in Halifax, NS who specializes in helping women and couples address concerns they have in their romantic relationships. If you’d like to book a free 15 minute consultation with Marcy click here. Or call her Assistant Laura at (902) 702-7722 to schedule.
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