Do you have a sinking feeling in the bottom of your stomach that something is not quite right in your relationship? Are you scared to ask yourself the question that maybe your relationship is at an end?
As an Accredited Family Law Specialist I find that many people will stay in relationships that they are profoundly unhappy in largely because they are terrified of the unknown consequences for their family if they voice their despair. Many people feel safer staying in the unhappy situation as it provides them with a level of certainty that might evaporate if they reveal to their partner that they are unhappy. Or put more simply, for many it is better to live with the pain you know than the pain of the unknown.
Many couples are just not able to find a way or means of having difficult conversations it starts with good intentions and ultimately ends up with you screaming at each other. This will inevitably make the intensity of the feelings worse when neither party feels heard. It is sad when clients come to see me when there is simply no hope of the relationship surviving. They have both said or taken actions that the relationship cannot recover from. In my experience most of us have not been given or learned any tools to express to each other our true feelings or expectations of one another in a calm measured way thus avoiding resentment and disappointment building.
Before you think ‘oh my God this might be over’ and rush to a lawyer, why not consider the following - many of us drift into relationships and marriage without really considering whether we share sufficient joint values or goals to have a successful relationship. We forget that all of the time as adults we are growing and changing. Many couples fail to check in with each other to assess whether or not they continue to be on the same page. If you are feeling upset or disappointed with your partner today, maybe ask yourself the following:
When was the last time you set time aside to tell your partner how much you love and admire them,
Have you told them how excited you are to be living your life with them?
Have you gone out of your way to make them feel special?
Have you thanked them for the contribution they make to your life or would that make you feel uncomfortable?
Do you know what it takes to make your loved one feel special?
The challenges of life, children, work, health and money can often make us forget the love and desire for each other that brought you together in the first place. When we are tired, frustrated, hurt and overwhelmed we all want support from our partners, but are we sure that they know how to support us?
Have you communicated to your partner what it is they need to say or do for you to feel loved?
Have you fallen into the trap of blaming your partner for all that is wrong because they have failed to read your mind as to what your need might be?
Are you guilty of being one of those that thinks ‘well he/she should just know that because they have known me long enough’?
I meet with many people that feel so lonely in their relationships and feel at an all-time low in self-esteem because the relationship just stopped growing and both parties feel disillusioned or trapped. It might seem that all that is left is bitterness and resentment but often this pain can mask the fountain of love the couple still hold for each other but they just don’t know how to access that exhilarating emotion.
Do you maybe think you are not valuable enough to be truly loved and adored? In my view everyone is entitled to feel loved, cherished, respected and adored. If you want a more meaningful and satisfying relationship at all levels, either with your current partner or someone else, you have to start with you.
Ask yourself what it is it that would have to change in you to make that happen. If you are to really experience a meaningful relationship at a profound level you must begin with SELF. Love yourself enough to face where you are currently at in the relationship you have. What is it that is missing? What you are not getting from your relationship? Are you blaming your partner for things you are failing to do that would immediately make you both feel better?
Think about what steps you might take to improve things. Use a journal to write it all down. This does not have to be anything major. Small things that you maybe did together when you got together at first, before the kids, money problems work and other stresses in life got in the way. There is usually one thing that your partner will keep referring to that might be the key to a major breakthrough in your relationship if you can love him/her enough to hear it.
Please do not end what might be really amazing relationship without really exhausting the simple things that might make a massive difference. If you are not communicating effectively, ending your relationship will not fix that. It might end the immediate pain but you will carry it over to new relationships and worse you will struggle to communicate effectively with your children and others. I see this all the time in my daily work.
Be brave enough to get help. Couples counselling is not a sign of failure, it is a sign of courage and growth. Who taught you how to deal with your emotions and communicate effectively? Who gave lessons on this? And yet it is probably the single most important tool needed in a long lasting meaningful relationship. Put the work in folks and you will avoid having to meet with people like me! Having done all of the above and you still have that sinking feeling that it is all over, please love yourself and your family enough to deal with ending of your relationship with love, sensitivity, compassion and integrity.
I wish you all much love in your relationships. Spend time celebrating, loving and adoring each other.
Anne Marie Douglas, Founder and Senior Partner Cowan Douglas Law Inverness