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Go Or Stay: Not-So-New Year's Resolution

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Your Couplehood-for-a-Lifetime is not working. Is it time to "Work" It?

Hey, Those in Marriage, Life Partnership, or Couplehood: Have you carried out your Happy New Year Action Plan yet? The most common first-quarter goals for couples and families are:

Decluttering
Planning summer camps and vacations
Calling far-away best friends 
Taking at least a day away as a couple, even better an overnight  or two

However, if you’re unhappy in your marriage, your New Year Action Plan may mean filing for separation or divorce. January is the highest traffic month of the year for these filings. Yet, by the end of March, only roughly half of those separation filings may proceed to divorce. Another quarter may remain in permanent separation status because it’s economically preserving to the parties. This worked for Warren and Susan Buffett, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, and Jann and Jane Wenner. 

Conversely, if you’re going straight to divorce filing, there is the highest probability that your marriage is over; that a lot of time and thought has gone into the decision. An example: For the family’s sake, you and your Partner did your due diligence to make it a nice holiday season. The Life Coach you saw once recommended, “Don’t announce your breakup to the kids on holidays or birthdays.” Your unhappiness inventory has gained bigger momentum over the last year or two; though there were highly dysfunctional patterns early on.   

Is it really time to “Go”?  

For years, you wondered if your marriage would make it back to bliss. The road there became more and more cumbersome. There were  isolated moments of loving anniversaries. This year, there’s no more wondering. It’s over. Finito. Date night sentimentality is in the distant past. Sex is more obligatory, dreaded, unfulfilling,  and—happily—quick. Children, money, health, career, extended family, and even physical living space are just a few Life Elements in your out-of-control stress pile. 

Look at You, Inside and Out. Endless tasks and responsibilities divert you from looking at yourself. If you’ve taken inventory of the marriage, take inventory of yourself, as the Life Partner you’ve reactively become. Grow to Know Yourself.  

Remember the early togetherness years? Communication was easy, especially when you both agreed. It built illusion: Communication flowed effectively, so you both had natural mastery. Then came opposing views. That seemingly natural communication didn’t flow. Feelings escalated. Harsh-word darts implanted. Where was the mastery? Illusion set in; thought communicating contrasting views would be easy. Disillusion set in; we can fix this without training. But the patterns continued; the unhappiness grew. You both concluded, “We’re not as good together as we thought.” The whole relationship became branded, rather than the specific dedication to communications training highlighted. Further truth for couples in this tangle: These dysfunctional communications patterns are likely to recur and reinforce until “death do you part”. Why? Couples keep returning to repeat the same cycle of dysfunctional communication. Couples won’t spend time and money on effective communications training. By now, there are hundreds of poor patterns that can’t be easily undone. The potential solution ahead is merely to Go or Stay. Either choice maintains the communication problem. If you Go, you’ll need to communicate well together more than ever. You divorce each other, not your parenting responsibility.

First truth:  If you “Stay” you won’t get “back” to bliss. Without healthy communication methods, you didn’t really have bliss  back then anyway. If you “Stay”, engage a Life Leadership Coach, whom you can train with. Treat it with the importance of getting to the gym regularly or excelling in a graduate class. A proactive, working presence to gain communication proficiency, combined with understanding yourself from the inside out, will bring depth and esteem to your ultimate decision-making processes. Develop your conscious attention to whole relationship leadership. If you do “Go”, you’ll have communications skills to use, as both of you sign on for healthy, whole co-parenting going forward.  

First false:  When only half a statement is true, the whole statement is true. Not true. Here’s one of those half-true-equals-false statements: The holidays are over. January means it’s time to make a big decision. It’s true January is here. It’s false that a “Go or Stay” checklist can effectively determine your big decision. That checklist of reasons to either involve or dissolve most often focuses on your Partner and what didn’t work together. When Couples come in to get help with making this ending transition, at least one brings that checklist. Missing again is the deeper personal inventory of the self from the inside out: Who was I really as a Life Partner? What unmet developmental needs did I bring to the relationship, for better or worse, based on my role in my family of origin? What did I bring, based on the role models I had in how to be a “Couple”?

You must do this deeper discovery of the whole self. When you show only with your Stay of Go checklist, it allows you to justify your decision and maintain the conflict. If your focus is on how your Partner cares or doesn’t care for the couple hood; and is void of a lengthy path of personal introspection, you are now ready to make a well-viewed “Stay of Go” decision. 

On your wedding day, both of you say “I do” to the marriage and your commitment to each other. Chances are you would have probably answered “I don’t” to having proficiency in couples communication tools to proactively take co-leadership of your union. If you’re looking at fleeing the altar without acquiring these tools over the years, be prepared to repeat some of your patterns with your next Life Love.  

Step Back A Sec:  Is Life Partnership worth training for retroactively with this current life partner? Is it worth trying to save the family formation for those kids you both love so much? Then ultimately,  if your Couplehood dissolves, you’ll both have important skills to bring to your next relationship, and to your ongoing Co-Parenting relationship.   

To be clear:  Here are your two deeper choices beyond the simple “Stay or Go”, once you both work like hell six-to-nine-months minimum in Couples Communication mastery: 1) Your Couplehood moves forward, stronger and more loving than ever; or 2) your Couplehood dissolves, and you feel esteemed to know you both tried everything. You can stand before the kids with this truth. 

Remember, over 70% of second marriages end in divorce….because people just change  partners on the same dance floor. They don’t change their own moves. Have you marked this First Quarter as “Stay” for couples communication training for the next six-to-nine months minimum; and “Go” to an experienced Couples Coach right now? If so, your eyes will open to your future potential as a whole Partner. You’ll learn how to have a whole relationship and understand why you didn’t when you said “I Will”. You’ll experience an important process of personal growth from the inside out.   

Six to nine months is brief. After all,  how long did it take you to develop your current patterns in relationship? How long have you been much stuck in this relationship rabbit hole, repeating error patterns? Was a Couples Operating Manual, with updated chapters,  downloaded to your Kindle on your wedding day?”  

If it’s truly over, did your relationship every fully start? Is it time to “Stay” and launch a whole, healthy relationship?

This article was originally published at LeadLifeNow*. Reprinted with permission from the author.