One of the hardest decisions many people face in their entire lives is whether or not to end a relationship. It is never an easy decision, no matter which way it ends up. There are often big issues at play that keep an individual from making the decision for weeks, months, and sometimes even years. The indecision itself can breed even more issues.
Counseling, both individual and couples counseling can help you sort through this difficult decision. Counselors often focus on a few key factors to help individuals and couples decide the appropriate action for them. A counselor has no true vested interest in either decision only in helping you decide which is best for your unique situation.
How Did You Get Here?
Relationships are full of twists and turns, events and situations, that all lead to a current state of unrest. One of the first things a therapist will attempt to discover is all of the things that led you to seek their guidance in the first place. This can be tricky in couples counseling since often couples will have very different recollections of events, or find out that something they thought was insignificant left a large imprint.
Therapists are trained to help you uncover your deeper feelings and views on things that have happened in your relationship and help you to see them from a different perspective, if necessary. This will allow you to look at your relationship in a more objective way hopefully allowing you to gain perspective separate, but not ignorant of your feelings.
What Have You Done to Fix IT?
Therapy is rarely anyone’s first line of defense against troubles they may be having in their relationship. Counselors will need to gain an understanding of all of the things that you have attempted to ‘fix’ the relationship, as well as what the outcome of those attempts was. The most important part of this process is to be as open and honest as possible. If there was something that you plan to do, but never fully engaged in, there is going to be a reason that kept you from trying it.
Are There Any Other Factors?
In today’s society, there are dozens of factors that have a direct impact on a relationship, some good, some bad, and most can be a combination of both. Understanding outside factors that have an impact on your relationship can help you determine if there should be any consideration given. Some of the most common external factors include; children (especially young children); financial issues, both income and expenses; infidelity, including what led to it, and what the result was/is; and finally expectations, everyone has their own expectations of what a relationship should be and how far from that ideal a relationship strays can often have a great impact on the relationship and how fulfilling it is.
What Do You Really Want?
Finally, a therapist will only work to help you achieve what you want, as long as it is in your best interest. No therapist will attempt to force a client to decide to stay or go based on their personal beliefs. The hardest part is people often do not really know what they want. In fact, it is usually this unknown that keeps them from making the decision way before seeking therapy.
A therapist can help you to know and understand what you want if you are willing to do what is necessary to uncover your true desires. This often requires facing some hard truths about ourselves and can be both the most difficult and most rewarding part of therapy, whether your final decision is to stay or go.
Jennifer Hagar, LMFT specializes in life transitions, including betrayals and trust issues in relationships, the challenges of having a blended family, going through a divorce and coparenting, as well as difficulties couples face in communication and conflict resolution. She also helps individuals facing difficulties with anxiety, depression, grief, and substance abuse with compassion, understanding, solutions and hope.