Is it fair that you have to work on your relationship alone? Many couple counselors would probably say no, it isn’t, but they would probably encourage you to consider the alternatives. For example, you can choose to stay stuck in a relationship stalemate, but then each of you lose the potential benefits that can come from the work that you do – for example, a healthier and more supportive commitment in your relationship. Or you can let the relationship end.
But working alone may not be a realistic option if the situation is unbearable or abusive or if you’re completely mismatched. However, if there is a chance that your relationship can work, it might be well worth it for you to keep trying until you have tried using all of your ideas. Otherwise, you may regret ending your relationship too soon, and this would be unfair to you.
When thinking about fairness in your relationship, remember that many things in life are not fair. Illness, financial setbacks, divorce, and the loss of a loved one happen to the best of people. And even if you and your partner put equal effort into your relationship there is no guarantee that your problems would be resolved.
Still, like many others working alone in difficult circumstances, you keep trying, because this is what many people do – to persist when faced with personal struggles. If, for whatever reason, your partner lacks the ability to work with you to solve problems, you may have to accept this. It isn’t ideal but it’s your reality. Sometimes the strength and courage of one partner is needed to compensate for the shortcomings of another.
The real test of fairness in this situation is questioning whether you are creating the best life you can for yourself. In all of our relationships we need to have a balance, not necessarily between two partners but a balance between our own needs and the needs of the relationship. The source of your personal happiness lies within you and comes from your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual strengths.
Working on these strengths can help give the clarity you’ll need to balance the demands of your relationship against your own needs. You will also be able to assess your ability and your willingness to continue working on it alone. A normal side-effect of working alone on your relationship is that you may feel several emotions that you haven’t felt for a very long time. This is especially true if, throughout your life, you have felt alone in your personal and relational struggles.
Many of us carry forward our old, ineffective behavior and thought patterns from our childhood. Your desire to work alone on your relationship may feel natural if you learned from your parents to work hard for what you want. Or, if working alone regularly affects you mood in a negative way, it may stem from an unresolved struggle from your childhood. If this happens to you or if you otherwise feel that you need emotional support, consider working with a professional marriage counselor.
A relationship requires flexibility, effective communication, hard work and a lot of good will. When we feel complete within ourselves, we are in a strong position to create conditions that can lead to a healthy and thriving relationship. And yes, sometimes this means that we have to work on our relationship alone.
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