You know, that really isn’t the most important question.
A more important question is, “Have I done all I can to be as present in my own experience as I can?” And maybe another more important question might be, “Have I done all I can to lovingly invite my partner to share in the experience with me?” Actually, there are a number of even more important questions to ask…
If you are reading this post, I can guess that you are doing your best to practice living consciously and lovingly in all aspects of your life. I imagine too, that you recognize that there is no “right” or “wrong” answer to most questions, and ultimately, no one outside of yourself has better knowledge of you and your situation than you do. However, even being on a conscious journey, there are questions that do not have easy answers.
In my twenty-plus years of seeing couples in private practice, I have found that many people seek relationship counseling because they don’t know what else to do. There is conflict between the two partners, and it seems they are both “trying” so hard, yet “nothing has changed.” They wonder, “Is it me? What am I doing wrong?” And almost in the same breath, they are certain, “It’s not me. If only my partner would change!”
Sometimes they come in because they are so confused, and believe that they have done all that they possibly can to “save” their marriage, and that coming to counseling is their last resort. Some are so resigned and indifferent; they come only so they won’t have to feel “guilty” about ending the marriage.
Some come in looking for an “authority” to either give them the “key” to how to fix the marriage, or to sanction the inevitable divorce or break up.
Sadly, without awareness, these exhausted and frightened people are also misguided. Counseling cannot “save” a marriage, nor can any therapist know better than each individual person if the relationship has reached its natural end. With some skilled professional assistance however, hopefully each of them can come to understand that only through the exploration of who we are within the process of seeking our answers, will we find our truth, and ultimately, our clarity.
Keeping this in mind then, I would like to offer some guidance as you reflect on your current circumstances. Can you begin with asking yourself, “Why am I still in this relationship? Is there any part of me that knows this Truth: The essence of my partner is full of love and light and it still exists (as does mine) even if I can’t see it right now; and we are in one another’s lives for the direct purpose of helping each other remember and express who we really are at this essence level?”
“Is there any part of me that knows that staying in the relationship and stretching past my comfort zone is a clear and direct path to health, joy and authenticity?”
“Is there any part of me that knows that every place that my partner triggers me is exactly a spot within me that needs strengthening, that needs attention, needs healing by me? Any part of me that knows that these places where I get most defensive, resentful, hurt, angry, anxious, scared, are the Universe’s way of pointing exactly to the place I need to be gentle with and focus on myself?”
“Is there any part of me that knows I chose my partner to help her to grow as well?”
“Is there any part of me that knows that as I heal myself, I have the power to support my partner in his healing too?”
Of course, if you feel any resonance within these questions, be assured, there are many healthy and profound ways to use this information for your growth, connection, and evolution…but, even so, you may still be asking, “Is there ever a time when it is healthiest for the relationship to end?”
(There are situations where this is very black and white. If there is physical violence or any danger of bodily harm, the most authentic and loving thing to do would very well be to keep yourself safe, get support, and move toward getting out of the relationship. Also, if there are active addictions or severe mental illnesses that are not being addressed or worked on, it is challenging to move into a truly authentic and loving relationship. These issues must be dealt with before one can truly step into healthy authenticity with oneself, and intimacy with a partner. For this discussion, let us assume we have resolved these aspects and want to move from here).
…but only you know the answer to when it is healthiest for you to change the nature of your relationship…
So, here are some further important questions to ask yourself as you get clear:
- Is this a long-term relationship, one that I have (consciously or unconsciously) committed to either by choosing marriage or some other intentional statement of commitment; by having children together; by making large purchases together, or co-mingling funds.
- Am I aware of the significant (conscious or unconscious) emotional, psychological and spiritual reasons I chose to attract this person into my life, and then chose to move into a romantic relationship with her/him?
- Am I using my consciousness of these reasons to help me to grow, to heal, and to become the most authentic and loving person I can be?
- Am I aware of who I am at my core, in my essence?
- Do I have a vision in my mind of the ideal love relationship I want to have?
- Do we have a similar vision of an ideal love relationship?
- If I know who I am, and can envision my ideal love relationship, can I then envision who I want to be within that relationship?
- If so, how often am I expressing myself as this authentic and loving person – not just when it is easy, but most importantly, when I am being challenged by my partner’s fears, insecurities, doubts, and vulnerabilities, which trigger all of mine?
- Am I making a loving effort to remember and seek out the essence in my partner, and forgive his human imperfections, while allowing for the truth that he is doing the best he can with what he knows right now?
- How am I lovingly inviting my partner to meet me in the ideal love relationship I want to have?
- If I am lovingly inviting my partner from my heart, how often is she responding from hers? Are we in this together?
Making a conscious choice to end a current relationship is never an easy thing to do, even as we practice being authentic, loving and present. Sometimes it is important to notice if we are trying to force something that perhaps we could be changing instead. More often than not, especially in long-term relationships, the thing that needs to change is not the “marriage” per se, but the two people within it.
In other words, the conflict showing up in the marriage indicates that the individual people need to make some changes – for their own evolution. No doubt, these changes will impact the relationship, and if they are healthy and loving changes, the relationship will take its natural course – whether that relationship is to deepen and continue in a new way, or it is to gently dissolve so each partner can move into the next chapter of their lives, while honoring all that was shared previously.
When we remember that changing the other person is never a viable or attainable option; if we remember that the reason we are having this particular “physical” human experience is to continually remember the truth of who we are, and express the brilliance of that as often as we possibly can; our choices become much clearer.
Change can be painful. Let us not mistake the discomfort of this pain for the misery of suffering.
Pain often comes with healthy effort and growth. If we lovingly ride the waves of this pain, the discomfort eventually subsides, and we feel peaceful, happy, empowered. This pain is an indicator of how we are healing and evolving.
On the other hand, suffering is a state of mind. If we get lost in our misery, it persists. Suffering can last a life time; we feel depleted, miserable, hopeless. Suffering is an indicator of how we are stuck and have given up our power.
Are you suffering within this relationship? Or is it merely uncomfortable?
Stay or go? Is that really the question?
Don’t give up your power. You always have the choice to make changes.
The changes may feel painful at first. Remember, discomfort is temporary.
Suffering is never-ending because it is a story in your head – until you tell yourself a new healthier story, by making a choice and taking action aligned with that choice.
Whether you stay or go, you always have a choice whether or not you will take your suffering with you.
Will you choose to use your discomfort to remember your most authentic and loving self?
When you honestly answer these questions, you won’t have to ask “Stay or Go?” You will be guided into the next most loving and authentic action to take…The choice will be crystal clear.
If you are curious about these questions and want to learn more, sign up here and you will be notified about the upcoming online course entitled, “Conscious Relationships: Out of the Dark, into Light.”