We often hear that a couple “decided to get divorced.” Sometimes there is mutual agreement, but most of the time, it is one person driving the decision. I often see scenarios where one person has their foot out the door, and the other is arguing with them about how great the marriage is. Unfortunately, this pattern rarely ends the way the committed partner wants.
This article is mostly advice for the committed partner. If your partner with one foot out the door wants to end the marriage, how great you think things are doesn’t matter much. It takes two to tango. Arguing over the “facts” at this point rarely makes things better. Defending yourself as the committed partner (even if you are sure you are “right”) usually doesn’t end well. What can end well is listening to the leaning-out partner and understanding what they would like to see changed. It helps if the committed partner tries to take some responsibility where they can genuinely self-reflect and see their partner’s perspective. Whether you want to be right or happy often comes up in couples counseling. Focusing on being right often leads to unhappiness.
When the leaning-out partner asks for space, could you give it to them? Many people make the mistake of being asked for space and try even harder and smother their partner because they are afraid. This behavior does not typically come across as respectful or attractive. If your partner asks for space, ask them what communication they want, listen, and follow their guidance.
These are just a few quick pointers, but the biggest thing to remember is that it only takes one person to end a relationship, so arguing with your partner if they are about to leave rarely works well for the person who wants things to work out.
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