How do you know if your relationship is over? Leaving might be the best thing you ever do for yourself. Or you might be walking away from something really special, something that just needs some TLC and attention to get back on track. In this blog we dive deep into the decision-making process, so you can start to answer the most important of questions: Should I Be A Lady Who Leaves?
You’re questioning your relationship and you want answers
In her bestseller memoir Untamed Glennon Doyle writes about how she’d stay up late at night Googling things like:
‘Should I leave my husband?’
‘He’s a good dad, should I end our marriage?’
As you might expect, she didn’t find her answers on Google. And you’re not going to find your answers there either. Or from me – I can’t say whether you should be a lady who leaves, and if anyone else tells you they can, they’re lying.
This is a decision only you can make for yourself. Because, ultimately, this isn’t a decision about your relationship. It’s about you.
Start with you
One of the most important things I tell all my clients is this: you can’t control what other people do. Only what you do. This is absolutely critical to remember if you do decide to leave, and you’re dealing with the rollercoaster of the divorce process. But it’s also absolutely critical to remember now.
One of the things I’ve seen over and over again is women leaving a relationship hoping it will fix their life. Leaving, on its own, isn’t a quick fix. Why? Because you take yourself with you. So all the problems, anxieties and emotional baggage you carry (and we all have it), will go with you too.
I’m telling you this because I want to be completely honest. It would be unscrupulous of me, as a divorce coach, to pretend that leaving is the answer to everything. For many women, it is absolutely the right move. But only when it’s done for the right reasons.
If you’re considering leaving because:
- The fun has gone out of your life/relationship
- You and your partner are communicating badly
- You’re feeling bored, restless and unfulfilled…
…then it’s important to look at what you can act on first.
Is it really the relationship that’s the issue, or are there things you can work on for yourself? Whether you ultimately stay or go, it’s a smart move to work on your relationship with yourself.
A quick life-audit
If you’re considering leaving, then one thing’s for certain: you’re unhappy. And you suspect that your relationship might be the reason for your unhappiness.
One of the ways you can get clear on where your dissatisfaction and unhappiness is coming from is a self-audit. This is a really simple exploration you can start right now.
List all the different areas of your life – you could use these categories, or come up with ones most relevant to you:
And give each one a score out of 10, based on how satisfied you’re feeling with that area right now.
Next, use a different coloured pen, and give each area a score out of 10, based on how much attention you’re giving that area right now.
The results can be illuminating. And there are no right and wrong answers: only you know what sort of clues your results give you. It may be that you score your relationship low on satisfaction, and low on attention. Perhaps this means it’s time to give your relationship some attention and see what happens? Or perhaps it means you simply don’t have it in you to focus on your relationship any longer, you’re just done.
Or maybe you scored high on attention: this could mean your relationship is eating up lots of energy and sapping you, for no reward. Or it could mean your relationship is something really important to you, and you want to take steps to save it, but don’t know how.
Reflect on what your results say. Do they give you any clues about whether you should be a lady who leaves?
A warning about pros and cons
In an episode of ‘Ghosts’, the BBC comedy about a couple who share their enormous house with a handful of ghosts, the couple end up making a pros and cons list for whether to stay or go. One column has about 20 reasons on it. And the other just one. Guess which they went with?
No spoilers, but suffice to say, it’s not just about the length of your list. You might have a pageful of reasons to stay, such as:
- We’re comfortable
- For the children
- Two pairs of hands are better than one
- I’ll have to take the bins out!
- I’ll struggle financially more if I leave
- We have some nice times together
- We used to have great sex
- We still sometimes have great sex
- We don’t need to see each other very often
And, just one on the ‘cons’ list: ‘The thought of staying with this person fills me with despair’. If that’s the sort of list you’re coming up with, then the numbers don’t matter very much. It’s the depth and validity of the reasons you give, rather than how many of them there are.
Are We Really Over?
As we’ve explored in this blog, the decision to leave is highly personal, and one you have to weigh up for yourself. It’s all about asking the right questions and acting for the right reasons.
If you’d like to get deeper into this, I have just the thing for you – and it’s free! Take my quiz: Are We Really Over?. It takes two minutes, and will get you considering the real health of your relationship. Which means you’re more informed when it comes to your next steps.
And if you want my support as you navigate those steps – whether it’s coming up with a communication plan to help you get back on track, or coming up with an exit strategy – I’m here. Just book in a free consultation.
Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is the author of the Amazon best-selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. Emma is also the host of The Six Minute Divorce Podcast. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com