I’ve coached a lot of couples and have come to accept that there may come a time in a relationship when one or both parties might wonder when to end it. If you ask this question, it’s likely that you are feeling torn in opposite directions. You may feel on an emotional level that it’s time for the relationship to end, but your are thinking logically that it’s still worth saving after all the time and energy that you have put into it. Although spending enough time spent with someone allows you to become accustomed to many situations and circumstances associated with your partner, this comfort zone does not guarantee a zero-conflict relationship.
For a husband-and-wife relationship, the partnership is either boom or bust. The National Health Statistics Reports reveal that half of first marriages in the U.S. end up in divorce. Common causes are difference in values and needs. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you are able to neatly merge your values and needs with your partner’s, the relationship scale can tip to the benefit of both of you.
One proven way for couples to allow their differences to support their partnership, instead of signal when to end it, is to slip into the others shoes and experience their past, present, and the future that they look forward to. In this way, you become your partner. It’s called role playing, like how you used to play as a kid, when you became a character you admired. You become that person; you think and feel the ways that they think they’re supposed to. You “understand” the character for what it is.
Role-playing as your partner isn’t really difficult if you’ve lived together for some time. If you can take some time to talk to one another, re-live good memories and just tell stories from childhood times, you can begin to reconnect. Ask your partner about his or her desires, values, and aspirations and imagine them as your own. How does it make you feel?
Remember how you fell in love with one another and talked about intimate details? You must have gazed into each others eyes for lingering moments and made a connection. That’s basically how complete strangers fall in love. This is what you need to do again to make your relationship click again. If you can’t do it alone, get someone you both trust to ask the right questions to guide you. In my line of work, I’ve seen it work, especially with the application of Emotional Freedom Techniques.
If you role-play and put yourself in each others shoes, you can form a deeper understanding of the circumstances that are between you and your partner and align your values appropriately for a more supportive and caring relationship. Through role-playing, you may no longer need to ask when to end it.