As the New Year dawns there are those among us who are now facing the deepest question and ultimate personal challenge. Do I stay in my relationship/marriage or do I leave? The uncertainty is hugely destabilizing – but then, how can it not be, with so much on the line and no clear answer? I want to share a conversation I had recently with a man seeking couples counseling to get out of his marriage (to get help breaking the news). He was sure that he wanted out, but when he talked about the reasons he had come to this conclusion, I kept thinking to myself, “Wow! I’ve worked successfully with couples to overcome that issue.” I often tell couples I am counseling, who are in distress, that when people get swept up in their continuous cycle of conflict and frustration, if left to their own devices, they will probably blow apart. I realized in the conversation that I feel pretty confident about helping distressed couples turn a corner to reconnect and deepen their bond. So I asked him, “If I could tell you with complete confidence that if you worked on your marriage with me you could reconnect with your partner and have the kind of relationship you long for….would you want to do that with this person?” I have asked that question before and sometimes I receive an answer along the lines of, “I’m excited about that….though doubtful.” That’s something to work with…even if the person is very doubtful. However, if you sleep on that notion and conclude that you don’t want to have that with this particular person, even if it can be achieved, that seems like a pretty telling answer.
In a way, it’s a “trust your gut” question. I have written an earlier post about the divorce decision and viewing it as an impermeable barrier that, once you cross it, you really can’t return. This is another view of the question from a different angle. Asking yourself the question above may help you know. I hope this is of some small help because I know the limbo of uncertainty is a dreadful place to be.