You feel stuck. You aren’t happy but aren’t sure what to do.
You are not alone in being in an unhappy, and probably unhealthy, relationship. Statistics show that approximately 20 percent state they are unhappy in their current relationship. The problem is many people think that signals the end of the coupling and they pursue that course of action without considering ways to make it work.
Below are seven things you need to do before you decide to call it quits:
- Decide if you are truly discontent on a long-term basis or if you just had a bad day.
Some signals indicate the problem has been going on for a while. Some of those are:
- You find reasons to be anywhere other than home.
- You have shut down emotionally from your partner.
- You began to look at others as possible partners.
- You think you would be better if you had a different life.
- You are drinking more alcohol than you used to or start taking drugs.
- You start looking up past relationships.
- You resent your partner.
- You feel like you settled in the relationship.
Now that you decided you have the problem, it’s time to dig into why you have it. There could be some external issues contributing to your unhappiness. It could be depression, financial problems, worries over children or problems in your career that are playing havoc with your relationship.
Any of these things are stressors, but if there are several in your life it could be an overload for you and you are projecting that on your partner.
There could also be internal conflicts that are bothering you. Over time, these suppressed issues can come out in the form of discontent or resentment. They include things like a lack of communication, a lack of emotional connection, bad financial habits, a lack of quality time together, an unfair division of household chores, parenting differences and incompatible life goals.
List these out and describe them as you see them. Writing about them will help you when you talk to your partner.
Now comes the toughest part. You have to sit down and rationally discuss this with your partner. This can be done, but the resistance comes from a fear of an argument. That is normal, but you can avoid an argument by being respectful and not assigning blame. Remember, you have just as much to do with the situation as they do.
There are two points to remember in talking with your spouse. First, you have to let them know you contributed to the problem and ask them what you could do to fix it. Second, you need to explain your feelings in a way they understand.
That can be a challenge. Metaphors in terms they can relate to are helpful. For instance, if your partner is a surgeon, you may want to explain what you’re trying to accomplish using surgery as an example. If they are a fisherman, use that as an example to relate your feelings.
Then, you need to hear their perspective and listen to it. They may have some issues they have been holding back on too.
- Tackle problems.
Once you have identified problems and shared feelings, the two of you must be unified on how to resolve them. Some are easily resolved with a list, some organization, and accountability. Others, like incompatible life goals, are more challenging.
You will need to dig to see if you have enough important things in common to continue with the relationship. Review your history together, talk about the good times and goals you established when you became a couple. The length of the relationship, your common priorities and mutual responsibilities such as children, should play a pivotal role in any decision. This will help bring about some type of consensus to plan your future.
- Decide how you will resolve the deeper issues.
A closet organizer will help both of you find your shoes and clothes in the morning rush, but it won’t help you resolve your long-term goal differences or reoccurring attitudes you picked up from your childhood. You may need a counselor to help you deal with those
- Decide to commit.
A big factor in whether your relationship will work and these issues will be resolved will largely depend on how committed you and your partner are to the long-term solutions. It will take 100 percent from both of you to resolve issues. The road will not be easy, nor will changes happen overnight. However, your relationship can be better if both of you maintain the course for correction.
Forgiving one another is another key component in helping your relationship not only survive but thrive. One person isn’t to blame for the place you find yourself in now, and both need to understand that forgiveness needs to happen for both parties. You need to ask forgiveness for yourself as well as forgive the other person, whether they ask for it or not.
Implementing these seven strategies will put you in a different place than you are now. You will find the effort and pain dealing with your unhappiness in your relationship will not last, but the contentment that could be waiting for you is forever.