Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

1345 Relax and Succeed - Should I stay or should I go

How much should we do? When is a relationship too bad or too unrewarding to stay in? The consequences of adults making these decisions are often enormous, and if we add kids or a business into that equation the high stakes go even higher.

Sometimes they come alone and sometimes they come as couples, but over time I’ve been asked to help with this question a lot. In fact I had just sat down to write this and someone contacted me about this very subject before I was even done this second paragraph –thereby changing it into what you’re now reading.

Whether as a couple or a single, this is one of the most difficult questions we face because there are simply too many variables.

Are we being unreasonable? Is this just a phase? Will the person change? Will we really be better off without them? Is it too late to re-start? Will anyone else want us after the breakup? If someone does, could they be worse than our current partner? Could more of the problem be about us rather than them? Or would we be better off alone? And how can we sort out that tangle of ideas?

These are all very reasonable questions, but the reason we often see-saw back and forth on our answers is because as our mood fluctuates so does our perception of the rest of our life. Yet no one wants to make a major life decision about a life partner based on a temporary mood, hence people’s desire to seek help in thinking through all the variables.

1345 Relax and Succeed - How can we tell

I have yet to meet anyone who came to me already taking into account all of the variables involved. In most cases people leave out huge impacts without ever really noticing they are inevitable.

The good news is that the serious consideration of these ideas generally leads to much happier lives regardless of the outcome. Some couples rekindle their love and very enthusiastically choose to stay together despite gigantic sacrifices, while others happily head their own way with the loving support of each other. Some form relationships with others, some stay happily single, depending on what suits each individual.

These can be legitimately seen as daunting decisions, but their importance does not mean we are prevented from engaging with these ideas in a positive way.

This isn’t about whether the relationship is good or bad or whether it lasts or not, it’s about whether each individual can actually thrive in the circumstances they are in, or if those circumstances need to change. Either way, couples are not in opposition, they are searching for answers that work best for all involved. With that as the objective, the entire process is far less emotionally wrought and far more empowering.

We shouldn’t assume that big, scary, complicated decisions will lead to big, scary and complicated outcomes. Even getting married is big, scary and complicated for most people, but that doesn’t mean the marriages can’t be good. Likewise, ending a relationship can also look big and scary and complex, but that does not mean that both people can’t end up happier in the end.

peace. s

Translating Love

If you go to enough Christian weddings there is a high degree of likelihood that you’ll hear a reading from Corinthians. As a young person it was often the only thing that would cause my attention to prick up. Despite not being religious myself I thought it was particularly practical and beautiful. The thing about enlightened love is that its lofty romantic parts are actually the same as its practical everyday parts.

744 Relax and Succeed - CorinthiansBecause it’s essentially a lesson in having a good relationship I figured it was worth it to try translate Corinthians into modern daily terms. Sometimes people include the portions before and after this section, and there are a lot of slightly different versions, but here’s an example of the English “original:”

Love is patient: this means that as much as possible you will earnestly try to let your partner function at their own natural pace, whether that’s getting up in the morning, sex you’d like to have, or deciding to have a family. You don’t like people making you go faster or slower than is comfortable for you either. So no verbal jabs at someone just for being themselves.

Love is kind: this obviously means that there should be kindness in your loving relationships. I know it sounds like I shouldn’t even have to mention it, but in most marriages this is the thing that disappears first. The absence of basic kindness does a lot of damage and it can and will lead to a marriage breakdown. It should be easy for you to remember lots of recent examples of kindness you expressed to your partner.

744 Relax and Succeed - The words you speakLove is not envious: this means you’re happy for your partner when good things happen for them and you don’t compare what you got to what they got. It also means you don’t compare what you were given to what they gave someone else. It also means you aren’t upset when they’re getting suitable attention.

or boastful: there is no need to elevate yourself around someone who loves you because true love denotes full acceptance. There is no need for striving—for ego. If we feel we have to impress our partner we’re working in the wrong realm and you need to get reconnected not more impressive.

or arrogant: even if your partner’s views aren’t as informed, they remain valid. Don’t assume you know what’s better for them. Allow them space to have their personality and their views. There are people who think a conversation is nothing more than them telling others how they should live, even if was no question asked and no problem was stated.

or rude: show your partner basic respect. Let them tell their own stories, let them learn from doing things wrong without sticking your nose into it. And if you have a criticism it’s really a request, so just skip the negativity and just make the request.

744 Relax and Succeed - Well done is betterIt does not insist on its own way: this means you don’t assume that what you want for you as a couple is the same thing that your partner wants. A lot of couples will have one person who innocently but unfortunately assumes that everything they want to do is a couples idea. You don’t need to pick your partner’s clothing or hairstyle or holidays unless they ask you to. More importantly, don’t assume you know what’s better for your kids. Assuming you’re the better parent is a very dangerous thing and the kids rarely agree with the parent who makes such a bombastic claim.

It is not irritable or resentful: as much as possible try to keep petty complaints to yourself and when people do display them do not resent it. You too will need the latitude when you’re ornery and looking to pick a fight.

It does not rejoice in wrongdoing: easy—no I told you so’s.

but rejoices in the truth: be grateful to your partner for sharing difficult things that are emotionally challenging. Those are difficult to bring forward and if we react negatively to honesty we will only promote dishonesty.

744 Relax and Succeed - Being deeply lovedIt bears all things: no matter what should enter the marriage—financial challenges, sick children, family deaths—these are inevitable parts of life and if we’re not prepared to bear each others challenges then we’re not prepared to be in a mature true-love couple.

Believes all things: do not doubt your partner. Yes they may lean hard on you when they are low, but the confidence you show in them will be reflected in the quality of your relationship overall. When a spouse is weak a good partner doesn’t attack them, they double their support. And that’s because they remember who the person fundamentally is so they don’t mistake weather for geography.

Hopes all things: of course you should want the very best of things for your partner. If you’re really evolved you’ll even want them to have the best partner possible—even if that’s not you. That keeps you on your toes and reminds you that we need to re-win our partners back every few years just as they need to do with us.

Endures all things: tolerance. Within a decade a person will go through a huge range of fortunes. They hardest thing is when you’re both down. But when one’s up and one’s down, the one who’s up must show patience and understanding to the struggling partner because one day the tables will be turned and we will need the help.

744 Relax and Succeed - You don't need someoneSee? No matter what religious background you’re from that is a pretty good guideline for most relationships. But it can’t just be words you hear in a church on a wedding day. Whether it’s your wedding or someone else’s, that passage should remind you that your relationship is a verb—it is an action you take in your life.

You don’t get married and stay married. You fall in love and you continue to nurture the love or you don’t. That’s the difference between marriage and divorce the vast majority of time. It’s not that the people that can’t be together. It’s that they’re not being together.

Again: it’s a verb. Don’t forget you’re on a team. If you have a list of how your partner could make the relationship better then you know you’re lost. If you have a list for yourself (and its not overly critical or negative), then you’re on the right track.

Here’s to many happy relationships.

peace. s

Truly Loving

Are you ready to truly love someone? It’s not for the faint of heart. People tell themselves they can do this because they know the feeling of getting swept up in someone else. But that’s more a storm of neuro-chemicals you give yourself via your own thinking, it’s not really because of the other person. It’s due to your thoughts about them. And it is a great feeling. But the peaks are easy. Everyone loves the peaks. It’s how you handle the valleys that counts. That’s where you prove your love. Where it’s hard.

554 Relax and Succeed - The truth is that the more imtimately you know someoneEvery person you know will have a huge variety of days in their lives. Even if you died at 30, that’s almost 11,000 days. And to experience happiness you need something to compare to, so you need days that suck so that you can recognize the ones that are great. Let’s say we voluntarily surrender 4%—a pretty small amount of your time—to you experiencing things you don’t enjoy. That’s about 450 days for every 30 years. That’s more than a year for each stage of life. So if you want to know how good your relationship is, you’ll find out during those days.

When people are scared they’ll be aggressive because they feel unusually weak. But if you love someone you have faith in their core, and so behaviour outside of their normal patterns doesn’t look bad to you—it looks like a sign that something is wrong. They don’t need scolding. They need help. They don’t need to be deserted. They need to be hugged.

554 Relax and Succeed -A physician once saidWe all fluctuate in our psychological state. To say someone is mentally or emotionally healthy is to say that they exhibit a general kind of equanimity. They maintain a rare—though not constant—state of gracefulness in their interactions with the world. Again, even those individuals can slip into weaker, self-critical thought-streams. And as long as they think those insecure thoughts they will feel those insecure feelings.

Your relationship is not failing if one or the other of you is facing an enormous struggle. Maybe one of you drinks too much. Maybe one of you has a secret lover. Maybe you’re not proud of yourself and your self-hatred is bleeding out into your treatment of other people. Maybe your lack of power over cancer is causing you to over-exert power at work and now your job’s in danger and that’s causing relationship strife. There are a lot of ways to struggle both minor and major but they are all worthy of our respect. It is during these times that people prove whether or not they love someone. The real questions is, will you stick with them when it’s hard instead of easy?

Look at the person you’re dating’s worst days. Imagine 4% of your life being spent that way. If they’re still worth it, then you’re fine. Because after all, they’ll have to be just as forgiving to you. 😉

peace. s