There are always plenty of relationship questions that come up in my therapy sessions. Although I try to spend more time focusing on the person who is seeking therapy, there is definately a time that we must consider the seeker in terms of his or her other relationships. It is not an easy question to answer, by any means, when things have gotten to the point that we begin to question whether the difficulties we experience in our current partnership are too much, or that the benefit may not balance out with the effort of trying to stay together...I have read alot on relationships and did plenty of study and research and it always seemed that the literature in a round about way would suggest doing a kind of 'pros and cons' of the relationship. Then I read some interesting work done, using a diagnostic question spread, to assist counselors in helping their clients to answer this difficult question for themselves. This is not to say that we the counselors do not give our feedback, we certainly must and do, but by asking the proper questions, our clients can also see more clearly, the truth for themselves...
Using these questions and statements below, I help to clarify in your mind and in your heart of hearts if your Relationship is worth saving or would it be better in the long run to end it now...In my practise I have clients answer these questions and together we explore the answers, to arrive at the truthful analysis and diagnosis of the present relationship.
The first way I ask a client to begin to analyze their current Romantic Relationship deals with looking back on when you were the happiest in your relationship. When thinking about the early days in your relationship today, do you truly feel they were really very good between you and your partner?
Next I ask my client if there has been any incident of physical violence in your relationship.
I ask if there has been a solid commitment to persue a course of action or a lifestyle that excludes your partner.
Another Question I ask is if there was a Spiritual Being or God, or Spiritual Law that indicated that it would be allright to leave your current relationship, would you feel relieved and have a sense that you could Finally end your relationship?
Even though you have problems within the relationship, can you say that you and your partner have a positive, pleasurable interest other than your children, that you both share? Do you look forward to sharing it still with your partner in the future? This must be something you both do together and while doing it, it must give you both a feeling of closeness at the time you are doing it.
I then ask my client to tell me if they see their partner as a basically nice, reasonable, intelligent, not too neurotic, okay to look at and most of the time they smells alright.
I question about the difficulty of getting your needs met in the relationship. I ask if your partner hits you with so many difficulties and objections even if it is a small request, and that no matter the need, do you feel it gets mashed down right away or if you do receive your need that getting it was such an effort it is really not worth the effort to get it.
Does it seem that your partner usually stops your attempts to bring up topics or raise questions about things you care about?
I ask if you have gotten to the point where if your partner says something, that you usually feel its more likely that he/she is lying rather than telling the truth.
Regardless of the good qualities, and stepping back from any kind of temporary anger or disappointment, do you genuinely like your partner and does it seem your partner likes you?
Are you feeling willing to give your partner more than you are giving already, and are you willing to do this the way things are between the two of you right now, without any expectation of being 'paid' back?
Do you both touch each other, and look forward to touching each other? Do you make the effort to touch each other?
Do you feel you have a unique sexual attraction to your partner?
Does your partner neither see nor admit things you have tried to tell him/her about things that are making the relationship too bad to stay in?
Is there something that your partner does making the relationship too bad to stay in, and that he/she acknowledges it but is unwilling to do anything about it?
With regard to the problem your partner has that makes you want to leave, have you tried to let it go, ignore it, stop letting it get to you? How successful were you at releasing it?
While you think about the problem affecting your relationship, does your partner not only acknowledge it, but is both willing and able to change?
Has your partner ever violated a basic 'boundary/rule' or bottom line of yours?...if my partner did.(fill in with your bottom line)....then I'd feel I'd have to leave the relationship. If my partner didnt do..(fill in with your bottom line).. then I'd feel I'd have to leave. If these things were true about my partner.(fill in with the things you know to be true about him/her)....then I'd feel I'd have to leave the relationship.
Tell me if there is a clear, passionately held difference between you two that has to do with the fundamental and basic shape, texture and quality of life as you actually experience it?
Now, in spite of the differences, can you say that deep down, in some respect that is important to you, that your partner is someone just like you in a way you can feel good about?
I then ask for a list...the things that you would look forward to in a new life when thinking about leaving-things you're afraid of in your new life that make you think about staying. For every thing you list, I ask you to ask yourself Is this true? Is this likely? Then ask What else is possible?, What is most likely?
With the new, more complete and realistic pieces of info about what it would be like if you left, have you discovered any new more probable realities that now make leaving seem impossible, hard to do or unpleasant to do?
And with your new more complete and realistic pieces of info about what it would be like if you left, have you discovered some new more probable reality that now makes leaving seem easier or more attractive, so that staying no longer feels desirable?
Has your partner conveyed by either saying, thinking, or implying that you are a nut/jerk/loser/idiot about parts of yourself that are important to you, that you have started to really become convinced of this, or are becoming even just numb to it?
When you think about your partner's disrespect, is it clear to you that you do everything possible to limit your contact with him/her except for times where you absolutely must interact? Do you find yourself trying to avoid being around him/her and the hurtful arguements that usually ensue?
Do you feel that your partner mostly shows concrete support for and genuine interest in things you are trying to do that are important for you?
In regard to anything that was done that caused hurt, pain and feelings of betrayal, do you feel that the pain and the damage has gotten less with time?
Is there on both your parts, the ability for genuine forgiveness in the relationship?
If there is a need that you have and it is reasonable, can you and your partner find a way to work it so that you get that need met without too much of a struggle?
Is there a need that you have that is so important, that to not get it met would mean your life would feel not satisfying? Are you discouraged because you feel you may never get that need met?
Thinking about how your partner acts, does it feel as though in getting close to you what he/she 's most interested in is subjecting you to his/her anger and criticism?
When you begin to talk about intimacy is there a battle over what intimacy is and how to get it?
Does the relationship create fun...do you have fun together?
Do you share goals, dreams, and do they extend into the life you have together?
If all the problems within your relationship were just completely solved miraculously today would you still feel unsure about whether to stay or to leave?
Ultimately, if we reason the answers to these questions and arrive at a place of honesty, we can come up with a solution, an answer...whether we should leave, or stay in a relationship that we perceive to be difficult. We know all relationships require work and are therefore difficult, but the 'bottom line' is that we should never lower our expectations to the point that we are no longer being true to ourselves.