That seems like the question to ask when your relationship gets stale, but is it the right one?
Should you stay or should you go? This is the perennial question in long term relationships that have gotten stale. It's the question that launched my business, Romance Recovery, and the one that prompted me to write my new book, The Soulmate Myth. (YourTango readers can go here to get a preview)
It’s an important question, but in order to answer it with clarity, you have to ask yourself another important question first.
That question is: Why are you in this particular relationship? In a perfect world, you’re in a romantic relationship to open yourself to love. You’re in it to experience an intimate communion that opens you both to something greater than yourself. You may even say that you’re in it to open yourself to the God of your understanding. That’s great and all; it is truly why our souls long for such union.
But the reality is that you might be in this particular relationship for a whole ‘nother reason. You might be in it for financial security, for emotional stability, or to raise a family together. You might be in it because you don’t think you deserve better. You might be in it because you don’t think you’ll find another person to love you, and the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.
Not one of these reasons is necessarily wrong. As long as you can be honest with yourself, you can still find solace in your relationship. It’s when you lie to yourself or judge your reasons that you end up being dissatisfied with your relationship.
Ask yourself now why you are in your current relationship. Be still and listen for the small, quiet voice to answer. Is the answer what you expected? Sometimes we think we know why we’re doing something, but it’s really just an excuse. If your answer makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself why. It’s for one of two reasons. One, it’s really just an excuse. Ask again, get quiet and see what bubbles up to your consciousness. The second reason is that you’re judging your answer for some reason.
If that’s the case and you’re judging yourself for the reason you’re in the relationship, see if you can figure out why you’re judging yourself. Ask yourself what’s so wrong about being in a relationship for that reason, and let yourself receive the answers.
Even if your answer for why you’re in your relationship isn’t about opening deeper into love, it doesn’t mean that your relationship is invalid or a waste of time. You can use your reason to go deeper into whatever the lesson is. For example, if you are really in your relationship for financial security, explore what makes you insecure. How could you feel more secure inside yourself? You might want to consider my Abundance course here to help you relax into financial security. If you’re in it to raise a family, then be the best child-raising mother you can possibly be. Whatever your reason, own it.
You can be happy in any relationship if you’re willing to own the reasons you’re in it. Even if you’re in a relationship because your self-esteem is so low you don’t believe you deserve better, you can learn to be happy. By owning your low self-esteem, you will either accept it or become motivated to improve it. By understanding the real motivation for being in a relationship in the first place, you’ll clearly see whether you should stay or go.
In his book, Dear Lover, David Deida recommends that once you're clear about your reason for being in your relationsip, give yourself a time limit to be the best you can be in that reason. Tell your closest friend or your coach, and have them report back to you in six months. If they think you've gone deeper, then keep going. If they don't see any progress, then they'll tell you. You, in Deida's opinion, are the least likely person to really know when it's time to leave. I'm not sure he's right about the knowing, but I am sure that even if you do know, you're still likely to make excuses. Being held accountable by a friend or a coach can be the impetus for change.
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