Often I get clients coming to me querying whether they should stay in the unhappy relationship they currently find themselves in or should they get divorced and move on.
My first question is – how long have you been together?
The reason for this is that every couple goes through a typical relationship cycle usually coming to a crossroads around the 7-9yr mark (hence the cliche’ ‘The 7 year itch’). This is not to say that this cycle does not happen earlier in some relationships, but for the majority, it’s over the longer period.
This is because as individuals, we grow and evolve with life experiences and the life stage we find ourselves in at that moment. In most cases children have come along too which adds another dynamic to the relationship.
We’ve passed the romantic phase of when we first met our partner and now are probably wondering what happened to the person we fell in love with?
The truth is, that person is still there – they’ve just evolved as have you.
With time, we get stuck in our day-to-day routine and our life becomes well just that – routine. Leaving us feeling unfulfilled, empty, disconnected from our partners and alone. And that’s when the trouble starts…..
The Relationship Cycle every couple experiences.
We co-create our situation by reacting to what we are experiencing in our lives (positively or negatively) by coping with a situation (e.g. affairs, working late every night, substance abuse, throwing ourselves into a hobby/sport/social group etc) rather than addressing it at the start.
There are a number of ways of dealing with the situation depending on what each couple’s needs are but it usually comes down to a few basic needs:
- I want to feel important and valued by you my partner
- I want to know that you love and care about me
- I want to be appreciated and acknowledged for my contribution (no matter how big or small it may seem)
- I want to feel a connection with you (and not just in the bedroom)
- I want to be able to share my world (work, hopes, dreams, fears) with you without being ridiculed
If this sounds vaguely familiar then know that you are not alone and you can turn things around without going the divorce route. The question you have to ask yourself is, how badly do I want to change things and what am I prepared to do about my role in co-creating this unhappy space?
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Paula Quinsee is a Relationship Expert, Tedx speaker and author of the self-help guide Embracing Conflict. Paula is also a consultant to the TV show ‘Married at First Sight SA’. She works with individuals and organisations to cultivate healthy relationships in both personal and professional arenas by focusing on real skills and personal growth and development.