If you have reached this blog and are reading this article, it is safe to say that you are probably unhappy with your intimate relationship at a deep enough level that you are seeking answers to exactly this question.
You have probably been asking yourself this question for a while now.
Is it worth staying on and working on it or is it bad enough that I should consider leaving and moving on?
The answer will come to you from within and only you can really decide which path to take. Always remember that you can take a U turn on either path and find an exit and go a different way. There is no fixed path in anyone’s life. We choose what we do and that creates new paths at every single moment.
You may decide that it is worth staying on and you decide to read more self- help books and join some online forums or go for counselling, alone or with your partner/spouse/significant other. You may be able to shift things in ways that really help strengthen the relationship and bring happiness and joy in your life! Or things may not quite work out and you feel trapped and stuck despite all your efforts and the partner may not cooperate or may blame you and there is no equal work being put in by them to making things different.
You can rethink your choice and then decide to leave after all.
Or you may decide to leave and make plans to get your finances in order, work on yourself and your self-worth and your physical and mental and emotional health. Healing yourself may shift energies in the relationship and you may find that your partner/spouse is also subtly and slowly changing how they behave with you and things are actually looking better than they have for years. Well, that would be great, and you can decide to stay on after all!
The key here is that this is your life. YOUR life. You have, like all of us, a limited amount of time and energy and capacities and only you can decide where you choose to use these all. You need to put your happiness and fulfilment first because even if your children are your priority or your job is your priority, you need to be happy and fulfilled in order to be a good mother to them and a good worker in your chosen profession.
So how do you decide whether you should stay or you should go?
The one real deal breaker is abuse.
If you or your children are facing physical, emotional, psychological, financial, sexual abuse, you really need to make plans to leave as soon as and as safely as possible. The domestic abuse national helpline number for India is 181 while women police helpline numbers are 1091 and 1291. There are many NGOs and women’s help groups you can find online who can also provide the specific support you may need. Organizations like Jagori, Majlis and Dilaasa have teams of trained and experienced people who can help you.
Jagori : http://www.jagori.org/contact-us
Majlis : https://majlislaw.com/about/
Dilaasa: K.B. Bhabha Municipal Hospital, Bandra West, Mumbai Tel: 022- 26400229
You may ask, but how do I know if I am suffering abuse?
It is a very important question to ask because sometimes the abuse can be subtle. An abusive relationship—also known as domestic violence, intimate partner violence, or dating abuse—involves one partner attempting to cause physical, sexual, or psychological harm to the other. Physical abuse is still fairly easy to understand and diagnose and be recognized. Other kinds of abuse can be quite subtle and the person being abused may ignore the red flags or not recognize it as abuse or be uncomfortable but too scared to speak out about it.
For example, sexual abuse is not just violent sex or rape but also involving other people in a couple’s sexual activities when one partner doesn’t want to, ignoring a partner’s feelings regarding sex, or pressuring someone to dress in a sexual way. Emotional abuse can take the shape of constant criticism, dismissing your views, embarrassing you in front of others, monitoring your behavior and where you go and who you speak to, demanding your time and attention at their convenience, turning other people against you, withholding affection.
Here are some things you feel if you are in an abusive relationship:
- You don’t feel free to make your own choices.
- You’re always apologizing so that they don’t get angry.
- You don’t talk about the relationship with friends or family.
- You fear going out with them because they might humiliate you in public.
- You’ve lost confidence in your own perspective.
- You feel lonely and helpless all the time.
- You can never ask them for help without being made to feel shame or face their anger.
- Your partner constantly compares you to others and belittles you.
- Your achievements don’t matter.
- There is a world of double standards.
- They gaslight you and twist things around till you start to question your own sanity.
- They invalidate your feelings.
- They show a total lack of empathy and compassion.
- They regularly cheat on you.
- They insist on controlling the finances.
If you answered yes to any one of them and it is a regular pattern in your relationship, take a deep breath and be aware that you are in an abusive relationship.
It is not an easy thing to accept and the first reaction will be denial, but give yourself time and think about this. Come back to this list and answer it again. Once you are able to accept the truth, then you can work on a solution.
If you answered no to all those questions, then you are not in an abusive relationship. But you are not happy. So, here are some more questions to ask yourself:
Who are you in this relationship?
Does this relationship have space for you and your dreams, aspirations, goals, desires? Or are you expected to only serve the needs of others? Are you always a giver and never at the receiver? Are you always the one who makes everyone else comfortable and feel special but no one really does that for you in return?
Does your significant other or spouse or partner always expect you to be available and providing and doing but if you ask for anything they are always busy or tired or physically or emotionally unavailable?
Does your spouse/boyfriend/partner make you a better version of you? Do they encourage you to do the things you love and do they offer hope and support for you to reach your goals and fulfil your dreams?
Do they feel like your safe space? Can you be vulnerable in front of them and not have that used against you?
Do you feel suffocated and lonely despite being surrounded by people?
Is this a marriage or relationship you would wish upon your child or your best friend?
If they were being treated by their spouse the way yours treats you, would you be ok with it or would you be worried or be encouraging them to leave?
As you are reading these questions you already know the answer inside your heart. It is time to allow your brain/ mind to accept it.
You may want to take a deep breath and sit with these answers for a while and understand what this means for you. You may want to have a deep and private conversation with your spouse or boyfriend if you feel safe enough to do that. They may have things to share with you which make them unhappy also. Be prepared to listen and accept even if you do not agree with them all, because things always look and feel different to another person than how it appears to us.
Once that conversation or conversations are done, you can explore if both of you think it is worth salvaging the relationship and can commit to working on it to make things better.
You may have heard the famous quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet—To be on Not to Be, that is the question. The answer depends on you and your choice. Of course, you can change your mind and make different choices at any point, but it still needs to be an active choice so that you can do it consciously and not drift along letting things just happen to you.
If there is any kind of abuse however, it is absolutely important for you to start making plans to leave.
‘Stay or go’ is NOT a roll of the dice question. It depends on you and the choices you make. Staying on in an abusive relationship could literally be a question of life or death.
You have one life to live. Do it on your own terms.
Sign up for a free 20 minute call at www.the-divorce-doctor.com and invest in Conscious Uncoupling coaching sessions to help you find your way to separate and live happily even after.