When I “hit the wall” in my own marriage years ago, my ego saw only two options. One was that he change, the other was that I leave. When I realized that I was trying to solve the problem the same way I created it—with my ego-mind, I asked my Spirit for help instead. I dropped the hardness of my ego-guard and looked into my heart. There, instead of blame, I found responsibility. I knew I could not leave in good conscience until I had 100% shown up and taken responsibility for my words, thoughts and actions. I realized that if I left the relationship from blame and victimhood, or left because I was seeking outside of myself something I could only find inside of myself, that I would be full of regrets down the road. It was then that I dove head first into taking responsibility for every thing I said, did and thought in an effort to align with creating a healthy relationship. Had it not worked, I would have then known that it was time to move into a state of acceptance that this relationship was not meant to continue.
How do we decide when to stay and when to go? There are so many variables involved in this question—not the least of which is children, finances, safety, already married or not married, that it’s hard to give a “one-size fits all” answer. However, there are a couple of questions that may help you with the decision.
First, are you safe? If you (or your children) are not safe, it is important to find a way to remove yourself and then work on all of this.
Second, evaluate your values and goals. Identify your “non-negotiables,” not just your preferences and see whether you are compromising on the things that matter the most to you—or if your partner is. It isn’t necessary to have your values in perfect alignment but if one person’s values (or lack thereof) impacts the other person’s ability to honor their core values it may be an insurmountable problem.
Third, turn your attention inward—not from blame and fault but from power and responsibility. Relationships are a lot of work, but the work is truly on ourselves, not the other person. Do you feel you have been showing up authentically, aligned in truth, or have you been reacting from the ego? If you have truly been interacting with your partner authentically, you will likely have clarity rather than confusion about the choice to leave.
Fourth, consider where is your greatest growth opportunity—in the relationship or out of it? If we are operating from ego in the relationship, and we leave the relationship steeped in ego, we may get out of this relationship but we won’t get out of the problem. We humans have a masterful way of recreating the exact “classrooms” we need to achieve self-mastery and if we don’t accomplish this in one relationship, or even one lifetime, we may very well just have to continue on where we left off in the next. We don’t necessarily have to “work it out” with a specific person, but we do have to “work it out” with ourselves.
Otherwise, we get out of the relationship thinking that we just have to find the right person instead of the last, wrong, person. But if our own behavior and beliefs are ego-based, we will experience a similar challenge in the next relationship, and the next one. As the saying goes, “Now matter where you go, there you are!”
While changing who you are interacting with can make a world of difference in the success of a relationship, if you are doing the exact same thing over and over, you may well discover you get the exact same, unwanted, results—no matter who you are with.
Consequently, more important than whether you stay or go is whether you choose to stagnate or grow.
While the decision of whether or not to break up often feels like an emergency, you have the opportunity to turn it into an emergence—of a healthier, stronger version of yourself—either way.