When to leave
There is not a right time to begin or end a relationship. For the most part, it is very nice to start a relationship before the holidays. The gatherings, gifts, traditions, and all the holiday activities make it so simple to start a relationship on the right foot. The problem begins when we are trying to end a relationship during this time.
The first thing we have to take into consideration is everyone's well-being. If you or your children are going through some type of abuse such as domestic violence or something which may put you or others in danger, well then it's simple. It does not matter what time of the year it is, you leave if you must. On the other hand, if the relationship is ending because of other reasons and it is not an emergency, then we have some options. Even though there is no right way of ending a relationship, here are some simple things to keep in mind:
To stay or not to stay
We wouldn't hurt over someone we don't care about or love anymore. If there is any doubt about staying or leaving, then we have to think of what are the reasons why we are considering ending the relationship. In most sessions I have related to this, I find that there are always a lot of factors other than "love" that is making this choice difficult. "He doesn't have ambition", "she is always in a bad mood" or "I don't see the sparkle anymore" are common things people complain about when coming into therapy. The thing is that most of these issues are mostly non-romantic problems; therefore, a great deal of our decision-making has to be done at a rational rather than emotional level.
So, think with the head rather than the heart? Absolutely!!! We know that our feelings are in the right place, we just need to evaluate if the factors that we are not happy with will change. If they will not change then we have to see if we can live with them. For example, if a wife is struggling with the idea that the husband does not have a job; loving him more will not enhance his job skills, he will just be a very loved unemployed individual. She will have to evaluate how he has been trying to get a job and if he will realistically speaking, be able to get and maintain one.
I'm staying for the kids
If I had a dollar for every time I've heard this... The answer to this is very simple: If the parents are okay, the kids will be okay. The issue with the children is the timing. We have so many things going around the kid's life that it is impossible to have the perfect timing. There are two main issues that we want to prevent: interrupting their school and breaking up during holidays.
The school in a way provides a stable environment for the kid's life. Just the same way that we sometimes need to continue working through hard times because it makes us feel productive, the school allows the kids to have a stable environment outside the home. They have peer support and even have the opportunity to share their emotions with other adults. If possible, avoid separating during important academic activities. It doesn't mean that the winter or summer breaks are the ideal times to break up. It just means that you will have one less thing to worry about and the kids will not be ripped away from the environment they know.
Holidays play a major role in a kid's life. They are full of so many traditions and activities that make them so important. In general, we associate things regularly. 4th of July comes with fireworks, Easter comes with eggs, and Christmas with... A bunch of things. With this in mind, why would we want to add a separation holiday to our kid's annual itinerary? This would just add the inevitable reminder of their parent's separation. If you have been unhappy for years, I'm sure an extra day or month would not make that much difference.
Although this seems like a no-brainer, staying for the kids has to be the most common reason why people stay in a relationship.
I can't afford it
Money is often the main reason why people stay together. I commonly hear "I wish I could leave but I can't afford it!" There are many couples that divorce and then separate for this reason.
Money should not be the reason why we stay in a relationship, yet it is one of the main things we have to plan for. A civil communication about this with your significant other would be ideal but it seems to be one of the most difficult conversations to have. Remember that this is a divorce, not a commercial vehicle accident dispute!
I often see women being afraid of being by themselves and financially independent; however, I am glad to see that most of them (with the right amount of will) end up building a very good life for themselves. The main thing we have to keep in mind is that you will have to be fully responsible for things. The last thing we want is to leave a relationship and get into another one so someone can be financially responsible for us. Guys on the other hand have a different problem. Sometimes it is impossible to maintain two households. Although there is no right way to do this, thinking about money with the head rather than the gut is the way to go.
Over the years, I have been able to talk to many people who report wanting to leave their partner yet a thousand years have passed and they are still together! Why do we stay in a relationship for so long if we have already made our choice?
The answer is simple, there is no due date. Sometimes is good to set goals and limits within a specific time frame to evaluate whether the relationship is advancing or not. However, if the relationship seems to be the same year after year, then it's time to either accept the flaws or act.
This is not a topic that can be discussed in a quick conversation, yet it's a decision that should be made with a sound mind. It doesn't matter how bad a relationship has been, there is always something we can learn from it. After all, I am sure that the relationship wasn't horrible from the beginning.
Remember, if the breakup is harsh, the communication after (if needed) will be harsh. It is possible to have a good relationship post-marriage, it's just something we have to work on.