When is it time to say “This relationship is over”?


Michele Gruenhage

Frequently people come into my office unsure about whether their relationship is worth saving or if it is beyond repair.  As couples tell me the story of their relationship I hear them describe the ways they each feel hurt, lonely, and discouraged.  Sometimes couples come in soon after they recognize they need support in communicating with each other in better ways. They haven’t had much conflict and they feel terrible about the things they recently said to each other in the heat of the moment.

More often, however, couples have been coping with their painful dynamics for years, and their level of discouragement is high, and their hope is low.  They have ingrained patterns of fighting – yelling, screaming, name-calling, and/or silence. The Four Horsemen are running rampant. They feel embarrassed and worried about how all of the fighting is affecting their kids.  Maybe there has been an emotional or sexual affair. Maybe one or both partners struggle with addiction – gambling, pornography, drugs, and/or alcohol.

I often ask clients “Why do you stay in this relationship?”  Or “What is your commitment to working on this relationship?”.  These are some of the answers I hear regularly:

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