Your partner has just betrayed you, and, as you recover from the initial sting of discovery, you're wondering if the relationship is worth saving. Whether you've just stumbled upon evidence of infidelity or are reeling from the consequences of financial disaster, your relationship is hanging in the balance, and you have some big decisions to make. Before you walk out the door, consider the following suggestions to see if you can get over these relationship issues or if you'll be better off starting over.
Get Time to Think
Make sure your partner knows you are distressed and need to evaluate the relationship. Explain that you will need their patience as you decide what to do next, and ask for respect and distance as you decide how to handle the betrayal. Most likely, your partner is feeling guilty, ashamed and anxious to explain themselves. Tell your partner you can't hear their side quite yet, and reassure them you will listen to it if and when you are ever ready to hear what they have to say.
Take a Break
Most likely you are feeling extremely emotional. If possible, take time off work, and see if you can get some time to yourself to think. Perhaps you can stay with a friend or relative or can go away to a cabin or hotel room to get some space and time to clear your head. If you can't move out or leave for some reason, ask them to stay somewhere else for a set period of time so you get some time to think apart from their influence. If you have children or do not want to respond so drastically, ask for space and time apart within the confines of your home and schedule. You may want to sleep in different areas of the house and take turns watching the children while you get time away to think things through.
Identify the Problem
You'll need a clear picture of what the problem is before you can know if the relationship is worth saving. Is your partner addicted to alcohol or a drug? Have they broken the law? Did your partner cheat on you? Have they ruined you financially? Slow down, recover from the shock of discovery and clearly outline the problem. Ask yourself the following questions:
Seek Relationship Counseling
Many couples need a third party to intervene and guide them through the difficult process of dealing with major relationship problems. You may want to meet with a counselor alone and a counselor together to try to sort out exactly what happened and where to go from where are. You will want the privacy of individual counseling in addition to couples counseling since you may want to sort out your feelings both with and without your partner present.
Listen to Your Partner's Side of the Story
While trying to identify exactly what the problem is and how much damage has been done, you may realize you don't know a lot of the pieces of the puzzle. Meet with your partner in a neutral, safe place, and ask questions. Try to listen to their side of the story.
Evaluate Your Communication
Many times communication problems in relationships lead to more serious problems. Ask yourself the following questions as you decide if you are willing to work on the relationship or want to give up:
Look for Patterns
Is this your partner's first offense, or have you been battling the problem in your relationship for years? Have you caught your partner before? Did they promise to change but have not?
Consider the Context of the Relationship
In order to know if the relationship is worth saving or not, you'll need to place the problem in context of the relationship. Have you been married for twenty years and just gone bankrupt because your partner's business failed? Or, have you been dating for two years and just found out your partner slept with his old girlfriend last weekend? There are huge differences between those two scenarios. Has the relationship been mostly positive with a rough last couple of years, or has the relationship been distant and difficult since the start? Do you have children together? Do you own property together? Do you each have separate careers, or is one of you dependent on the other financially? In order to make a wise decision, you have to look at the relationship as a whole, and then insert the problem into the picture.
Weigh Your Options
Are you better off with or without your partner in your life? Are you financially dependent on your partner? Has your partner pulled you through rough times before? Do you have children together who would benefit from you and your partner working it out? Evaluate your situation emotionally, physically and financially, and play out the different options available to you to determine if you should stay or go.
Enlist a Professional
Counselors and support groups are available to address just about every vice possible. Consider checking your partner into rehab and joining an addiction support group, or see a financial advisor if the problem is related to credit issues. If your partner cheated on you, consider going to couples counseling together.
Wouldn't it be nice if there were literally visible red flags in a relationship? If things weren't quite right, a red flag would pop out. It would be a dead give-away that there is an impending relationship problem. There would be no guessing or needless paranoia because it would all be there in black and white (or red).
If you're interested in resolving relationship trust issues, you may find these suggestions helpful.