When to end a relationship

It never ceases to amaze me how adaptable we are as humans.  So much so that we can quickly become used to negative and harmful behaviour in our partner relationships.

The typical example cited is that of the battered wife who keeps going back to her man because he says sorry, and she loves him. 

In a more moderate (but no less harmful) way we become used to more insidious abuse, normalising the hurtful words or behaviour of a partner as we get used to his/her disempowering passive-aggressive ways. When there is no physical violence it would be easy to think that the relationship is not abusive.  But there are many types of abuse and sometimes it’s the quieter forms which create a deeper damage. It is abuse by stealth.

Adaptation allows us to endure the atrocities of war, the threat of death, the loss of home and country as with the countless refugees currently escaping to Europe; these unfortunate dispossessed people have had to adapt and will continue to adapt as a necessity for survival.

It would seem that adaptation is very much part of the human condition when it comes to survival. In the couple relationship, this adaptation creates a lowering of expectation, allowing us to get used to our partner’s damaging behaviour. Yet these are damaging behaviours which should not be tolerated and by doing so we condone them.  Any behaviours/words which gradually erode the core sense of self is harmful and dangerous to those on the receiving end.

So when do we draw the line? What needs to happen to signal the end of the relationship?

There is of course never one answer to this question.  When, in a rational mind, all hope has gone and the love is less important than the need to stop the damage - when the balance has tipped so far to the negative that there is no hope of changing the direction of the relationship - perhaps this signals the end? Or does it?

I have worked with couples where one partner was resolute in their decision to end their abusive relationship - despite sharing 2 young children, she couldn't go on, she reached her full-stop.  Yet somehow, during the course of working with me, something shifted and as a couple they fell back in love, the abusive behaviours stopped, and with a newly found understanding of each other they are now a loving connected couple with a joint vision for the future. 

So the answer is not predictable and we sometimes give up too soon.  It’s well worth seeking help to see if your relationship can be resurrected, like the mythical Phoenix from the ashes you may rise up together like a rebirthing of all that you once loved and admired in each other with the added benefit of a deeper understanding.

Hope rises like a phoenix from the ashes of shattered dreams - S.A Sachs

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