This blog is for men and women who have been in a relationship for a long time—say ten years or more. It’s gotten stale, or worse, and you’re trying to decide what to do.
Here’s the thing: your relationship didn’t get bad overnight. It’s been a long time coming, and there have been signs along every step of the way. But inertia is a very powerful force. Most people would rather be moderately miserable than do the work needed to be outrageously happy.
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Even if you’re in the position of making this decision because you suddenly discovered your partner is cheating on you, it didn’t happen overnight. Nobody can make a person cheat on you without their consent. And if you’re the one having an affair, you know darn well that it takes two to tango. Either way, if things had been hunky-dory, nobody would be having an affair.
Take an honest look at the history of your relationship. Acknowledge for yourself, without judging it, what is true for you about your relationship now. When did it start to shift from a loving relationship into two people living a parallel existence? Or worse, when did you start fighting more than you were loving? What changed? Did you start to yearn for personal growth? Did your partner? Don’t be fooled by symptoms: one of you becoming a workaholic happened because needs weren’t being met at home and it’s easier to immerse yourself in work than it is to admit that things aren’t good at home. I suggest you talk a long, hard look at the history of your relationship, not so you can beat yourself up but so that you can get a clearer picture. You may be lamenting the loss of love that, in reality, happened over a decade ago. The love is still lost, but your perspective may be skewed.
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Until you have a clear picture of where your relationship is now, you can’t decide where you want to go with it (or without it). Part of this process must involve your partner. It’s important to get his or her perspective as well so you have the complete picture.
For example, as was the case with my husband when I left him in 2007, you may be ready to walk out the door and s/he may have no clue there’s anything wrong at all. If your partner is a decent human being, they deserve to be part of the process. You’ll likely need professional help to work things out together, but it’s worth a shot. For as I’ve said many times: if you don’t fix your issues with this partner, you’ll get another opportunity to fix it with the next one. And it might just be easier to fix your own issues with the one you’ve been dancing with for a decade or more.