One day it’s fine and next it’s black
So if you want me off your back
Well, come on and let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
While these are famous lyrics from The Clash (do I date myself?!), this is an age-old question for many couples who struggle at various points in their relationship. There are excellent reasons to stay and to leave a significant relationship. In this week’s post, I outline three important reasons to stay in your marriage or significant relationship.
Three Reasons to Stay in a Marriage or Significant Relationship
Love and Hope: If there is love in the partnership and moments of hope for the relationship (even if there are also moments of hopelessness) then that is a powerful reason to remain together. Love and hope are the lights that shine a path forward when everything feels “black” (as The Clash so aptly put it). These two feelings are what strengthen the essential bonds that hold a relationship together. Even if there is relational distress or trauma, such as infidelity or a miscarriage, but there are instances where you feel hopeful and love for your partner, then those are the necessary ingredients for you to heal these relationship wounds.
Open and Curious: Although you may feel discouraged at times, if you and your partner are open to exploring options for working on the relationship and curious about how working together can bring about change, then that is a solid reason for staying together. This “work” can take many forms, from relational guidebooks to consistently sharing in time together to seeking professional help. For many of us, it takes years of unhappiness before we consider accepting professional help, but outside help can be pivotal for couples. Being willing to exhaust all options to find out if the relationship can grow and become stronger is also key to comfortably determine the fate of the relationship.
Children: Staying in an unhappy, disconnected relationship for “the sake of the children” usually has devastating consequences for every member of the family; I am not a proponent of staying together only because there are children. However, the fact that ending a marriage significantly impacts the children is a great reason for parents to slow down before deciding to end a relationship. Doing what you can to repair and work towards creating a loving, connected relationship is excellent modeling; witnessing these efforts informs the relational template within each child. If, after genuine efforts to heal, the relationship still ends then you can feel more grounded in this decision. You will also be in a better position to help your child process the change in family structure.