Breaking Up with Someone: Should I stay or should I go?

It’s decision time, and you’re deciding if breaking up with someone is the right choice.  Whether you’ve been dating for a couple months or you’ve been married for 20 years, the decision to end a relationship isn’t something to be taken lightly.  You have to determine whether the memories you’ve made and the future you’ve planned is worth ending.  Personally, I believe love deserves a chance, and if the relationship can be saved, it should be saved.  That said, I don’t believe you should ever stay in an abusive or harmful relationship or marriage.

If you’re struggling to decide whether or not to leave someone, consider these three things:

#1. It may not be all their fault.

Is your spouse or significant other struggling with something?  Pornography or sex addiction, perhaps? It isn’t easy, but remember that all addictions are diseases and it’s hard to break free from them. An addiction of a sexual nature is no different from a drug addiction in terms of somebody “quitting”. It takes time and a lot of work. If this is the situation with the other person, while they should be held accountable for their actions, it’s also important to remember to pray for them and to encourage them if they are willing to seek help, including an accountability partner, Bible studies and perhaps counseling. If they are not willing to seek help, then you must react as if you would in any situation involving an addict, in that you pray for them, encourage them to seek help, and making sure you’re caring for yourself.  I’m certainly not saying their activity is excusable, but we’re also called to show grace to those who struggle.

#2. Realize part of the problem may be your fault.

If your relationship is headed south, it’s easy to point your finger at the other person and point out every single mistake they’re making and every way they’ve wronged you.  If your life with the other person has turned into nothing but arguments and hateful looks, it’s probably not just their fault.  It’s likely you had something to do with it too.  Consider asking them if something you’ve done has hurt them. This is not the time to be defensive when they open up to you.  It’s the time to share what’s hurting your heart, and to listen to really hear them, not just to respond and fight back.  Show them you’re willing to listen to them and make changes too, and that you together you’re willing to put the pieces back together.  This doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy – but it’s important to remember – you’re on the same team.  You should be fighting for each other, not with each other.

#3. Understand that nobody probably ever taught you to communicate.

Being open and vulnerable with our spouse isn’t something most of us go into a marriage knowing how to do.  We’ve learned what the world has taught us: that we’re in it for ourselves and we have to protect ourselves at all costs.  Nobody will take care of us better than we can take care of ourselves.  The fact is, none of this is true.  In your marriage, you and your spouse should have each other’s backs at all costs.  But the thing is, nobody ever really tells us that.  It’s hard enough for us to understand how to process emotions like hurt and anger at someone, let alone express them to that person. “When we don’t know how to communicate, our relationships break down.”

When we don’t know how to communicate, our relationships break down.

And this communication isn’t something you can learn overnight.  It takes time, and commitment to the other person.  Most of us only communicate with our significant to do one of three things:

  • Project a better image of ourselves
  • Show them how wrong they are
  • Defend ourselves

See how self-centered that is?

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Commit to working on your relationship before ending it.  If you’re really set on breaking up, give yourself enough time to weigh your circumstances, options and beliefs.

Struggling in your relationship? Not sure if you should stay or go? Make an appointment and get on the path to getting your life back.  Services available in Owensboro and Hartford, KY.

 

Rebuilding trust in your broken relationship

The unthinkable has happened.  You just learned your spouse or partner has had an affair.  A million thoughts are running through your mind, such as “How could they do this to me?”, “How could this happen?”, “How did I not know sooner?”, “Is this my fault?”  

By now, without realizing it, you’re likely beginning to shut down.  You’re putting up the walls around you because the person who you were supposed to be able to trust the most just completely shattered all the trust in your relationship.  The first question you ask shouldn’t be one of the above, and it shouldn’t be a question to yourself.  The question you should be asking is this: “God, will you help me through this?”

You have a choice

The simple and sad fact is that many (not most, surprisingly) relationships fall apart and marriages end because of infidelity.  Many times, people have no idea how to begin rebuilding trust in their broken relationship, and they feel their only option is to cut their losses and move on.  Now, my intent here is not to get you to forget that your spouse cheated on you.  In fact, Scripture gives Christians a very clear about allowing a divorce because of their husband’s or wife’s infidelity:

“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” -Matthew 9:19

The answer is simple

The decision of whether or not to divorce your spouse over infidelity is a decision that must be made between you and God.  So, it is not my intent to convince you to stay with the person.  But it is goal to help you toward forgiving the other person.  You will never truly find trust in your relationship until you learn to forgive your husband or wife for their mistakes.  Forgiving them doesn’t mean you forget what they’ve done, nor does it mean you are giving them permission to hurt you again.

It’s time to cancel the debt

Forgiveness is a word that’s thrown around in church a lot, but few times does anyone ever explain to us how we’re supposed to forgive another person.  How do you go about forgiving someone, especially the one person who is supposed to protect you and have your back no matter what?  Luckily, it really is simple.

Forgiving someone is really cancelling a debt.  Think about what Jesus did for each of us.  He died on a cross to pay for each of our sins, knowing full well we’d still commit these sins anyway.  Look at it from this angle — the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.  At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.  -Matthew 18:21-27

Here, the King didn’t give forget what the servant did, nor did he give the servant permission to rack up this debt again.  However, look what happens in the second half of the parable:

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. -Matthew 18:28-30

Now, imagine Jesus as the king, and yourself as the first servant who was forgiven.  Isn’t it easy for us to ask Jesus for forgiveness in our situations but then so difficult for us to forgive someone else?

He knows how you feel

The thing is, Jesus understands what you’re going through.  Of course, it’s easy to say “Jesus was never married or divorced.  He can’t possibly understand what this feels like.”  Think again.  Wasn’t Jesus betrayed by the very people whom He loved the most — the human race?  He was ridiculed, beaten, mutilated, hung on a cross, and killed — and all He was trying to do was bring hope to our broken world.

Jesus knows exactly how you feel — and He’s asking you to turn over those hurts and heartaches to Him.  Yes, you can still mourn the hurt of your husband or wife cheating on you.  Yes, you have every right to be angry and confused.  But holding unforgiveness, aka hatred, in your heart toward that person only pushes you farther away from God.  I’ve heard it stated like this:

“Refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and expecting them to die.”

You can’t trust someone again until you learn to forgive them.

Now what?

Forgiving and trusting someone else means first trusting Jesus.  I love how Sarah Young puts it, as she shares from God’s perspective:

I am taking care of you.  Trust Me at all times.  Trust Me in all circumstances.  Trust me with all your heart.  When you are weary and everything seems to be going wrong, you can still utter these four words: “I trust You, Jesus”.  By doing so, you release matters into My control, and you fall back into the security of My everlasting arms.

Before you arise from your bed in the morning, I have already arranged the events of your day.  Every day provides many opportunities for you to learn My ways and grow closer to Me.  Signs of my Presence brighten even the dullest day when you have eyes that really see.  Search for Me as for hidden treasure.  I will be found by you.

Prepare yourself for the emotions you’ll feel

Rebuilding trust in your broken relationship will take time, and probably a lot of tears and heartache.  This process you’re going through isn’t an easy one, and it shouldn’t be done alone.  But if your spouse truly has a repentant heart, and they are willing to work through this turmoil with you, you can be like many successful couples who have recovered from affairs.  And remember, Jesus knows how you feel.

Struggling to move beyond the situation?
Let’s work together to help you move forward. Call us, schedule your appointment online, or message us on Facebook. It’s time to get your life back.

Overcoming anxiety in your relationship

“You just don’t get it,” I explained to my wife once.  “I know you’re not leaving.  You’ve told me ten thousand times.  I know it in my head.  But I don’t know it in my heart.”

anxiety relationshipsYou see, I grew up with this huge fear of abandonment.  My mother left when I was very young, and until well into adulthood, I didn’t know how to handle it.  I was convinced I was going to be left behind.  This may be a familiar feeling to you, or your situation may be completely different.  But regardless, you’re likely here because you’re suffering from anxiety in your relationship, or from a relationship you’re considering.

According to PsycheAlive, “Relationship anxiety can arise at pretty much any stage of courtship. For many single people, just the thought of being in a relationship can stir up stress. If and when people do start dating, the early stages can present them with endless worries: ‘Does he/she really like me?’, ‘Will this work out?’, ‘How serious is this?’ Unfortunately, these worries don’t tend to subside in the later stages of a romantic union.”

What causes relationship anxiety?

Meeting someone and falling in love challenges us in a lot of ways we don’t expect.  From changing to find compromise with someone else, or understanding the other person’s special quirks, these challenges can cause stress.

Then, throw in the lies Satan tries to tell us:

  • “You’re too ugly, fat, or boring to keep his or her interest.”
  • “You’ll never meet anybody.  Why do you even try?”
  • “You can’t trust him.  You know he’s going to cheat on you.”
  • “She doesn’t really love you.  Get out before she hurts you.”

When we believe these lies, it causes separation from those we want to be closest with.  We may begin to argue and fight with our significant other, or we may withdraw completely.  Instead of enjoying your time together, it becomes a time of stress and anger.

What thoughts lead to relationship anxiety?

These lies, Satan’s way of creating a wedge between us and others, lead to anxiety in our relationships.  Stereotyping, poor attitudes and false beliefs can all create barriers in our relationships that keep us from enjoying those we care about the most.

Sometimes, we brush these lies off as our “inner voice” or “inner critic”.  Do any of these sound like you?

Lies about the relationship:

  • People just wind up getting hurt.  I have to keep them out to survive.
  • Relationships never really work out.  Nobody can be truly happy.

Lies about the other person:

  • Men are so insensitive, unreliable and selfish.
  • Women are so needy and indirect.
  • He only cares about hanging out with his friends.
  • You can’t trust her.
  • He’s probably cheating on you.
  • He just can’t get anything right.  Why do men have to be so bone-headed?

Lies about yourself:

  • You’re never going to find anybody who understands you.
  • You’re not worth loving or being cared about.
  • He doesn’t really care about you.
  • She’s too good for you.
  • You’re better off on your own.
  • You’ve got to be in control.
  • If he really knew you, he wouldn’t want to be around you.
  • It’s your fault he gets upset.
  • Don’t be too vulnerable or you’ll just wind up getting hurt.
How are we affected?

Do me a favor.  Look at all the traumas you’ve experienced over the course of your life: parents who abandoned you, or neglected you, or who were addicted to drugs – perhaps it was someone who abused you – physically, emotionally or sexually.  Maybe it was some combination of all of these things – or maybe it was something else. Regardless of what happened, we carry these issues from our past into our present.  Those issues come forward as harmful in our present relationships.  anxiety relationships

We see things like:

  • Being clingy
  • Being controlling
  • Rejecting the other person
  • Withholding affection from the other person
  • Punishing the other person unfairly
  • Retreating or withdrawing away from the other person
How do we overcome relationship anxiety?

Without trying to sound too much like a Sunday School answer, it really is simple: Jesus.  Jesus wants to be at the center of everything we are and everything we do.  Until we fully learn to trust and accept the love of Jesus, we can’t give that love to others.  You can’t give something away if you don’t have it yourself.

If you’re struggling with traumas and setbacks from your past, Jesus is asking you to give those to Him.  He’s asking you to pray, to share your hurt with Him.  He knows and understands exactly what you’re going through and exactly what you are.  He is ready to help you through the hurt, but you have to be willing to give it up to Him.


Are the hurts of your past or worries about the future keeping you from enjoying your relationships in the present?  Feel like you can’t give up those hurts?  It’s okay to ask for help!
Message us on Facebook to chat right now, or make an appointment in Owensboro, Hartford, Henderson, or online.  Let us help you get your life back.

Want some relationship advice? Maybe it’s time to be quiet.

 

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut.  I LOVE to talk.  It’s one of the gifts God has given me.  The unfortunate “flip-side” of that gift is that it sometimes gets me in trouble.  Chances are, you’ve experienced a similar situation.  People have called me in the past saying, “Zakk, how can I get my husband to listen to me.  He doesn’t hear a word I say, and what I’m saying is important!”

Listen.  I UNDERSTAND.  It’s hard, especially for those of us who love to communicate.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to get my point across to my wife… to the point that she’s ready to strangle me.  But I was speaking with a friend once, and he gave me some of the best relationship advice I’ve ever heard:  sit down and be quiet.  To me, this was a foreign concept.  Why in the world would I be quiet?  In fact, the look I gave him was something like this:

Relationship Advice

But here’s the thing: sometimes we need to be quiet to give the other person a chance to process what they’re hearing.  Remember, fellow communicators, sometimes our spouses aren’t as open and willing to share their emotions as soon as they feel them.  Many times, they need time to organize and “file” their thoughts.  Giving them this space will give them time to find the answers the  two of you are looking for, and it also makes the situation less threatening.  In fact, this scripture probably says it best:

“There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven… a time to be silent and a time to speak.”  -Ecclesiastes 3:1,7b

And we must accept that sometimes, the other person just has nothing to say.  Sometimes, the other person’s silence is misinterpreted.  Therapist Suzanne Phillips explains it best:

For example:

Your partner comes home from work, says hi, and then silently goes through the mail.

Worried you ask, “Is everything OK?”

“Fine.” Still worried you ask, “Why are you not talking?”

Now he/she sounds irritated “I don’t feel like talking.”

You move from worry to anger: “I wait for you to come home, and you don’t feel like talking?”

Partner walks into another room.

But, as Phillips shows us, there are other ways of handling the situation better.

Remedy: Undoing this type of vicious cycle takes a mutual effort of trust. Try the following:

  • Drop the Assumptions: Once you ask your partner if he/she is OK and your partner reports “fine,” assume the best, give him/her the space, then proceed as normal, “Do you feel like watching TV?”
  • Pick up the Clarifications: It is invaluable in a relationship, whether you are a very close couple or a couple repairing your bond that you clarify the meaning of your silence. “I’m just dealing with something at work. It’s not about us.” This drops the fear out of the situation and makes it easier for your partner to give you space or more calmly ask, “Can I help?” To which you may want to say, “No” or “Yes.”
  • There is room for options without assumptions. What this does is set up a pattern of mutual respect for separate problem solving on non-couple issues. Usually, when such space becomes part of a couple’s relationship, they don’t have to guard it so fiercely and they may more frequently ask the partner for an opinion.
  • Separate There and Then vs. Here and Now: If you find it very hard not to worry or assume the worst, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR PARTNER CLARIFIES, you might consider if you are mixing your history and the people from your childhood, or earlier relationships, with your present partner. With enough fear, accusation and insistence you can pretty much get the present to replicate the past.

The problem in relationships is that a lot of times, we find issues that just aren’t really there.  We pick fights because the other person doesn’t respond how we want them to.  We get angry because someone said something that hurt our feelings.  And sometimes, we just get mad because tensions get high when you share your life with someone.  And so, we fight, bicker and argue.  How do we stop the cycle?  Paul gives us a great indication:

Finally, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, affectionate, compassionate, and humble. 9 Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult, but instead bless others because you were called to inherit a blessing. -1 Peter 3:8-9

Remember, the best thing you can ever do for your better half is love them the way Jesus calls us to love.

Still struggling?  Check out our free resource, 10 Communication Tips to Improve Your Relationship in Just One Week!

If you’re struggling in your relationship, you don’t have to face it alone.  Schedule an online appointment or office visit below.


Use this trick to make your discussions more effective.

Relationship CounselingWhether you realize it or not, in most relationships and marriages, there are two different kinds of communicators.  More often than not, one of you is the pursuer and one of you is the distancer.  Not knowing these things about yourself and your spouse can make it hard to have an effective conversation if the discussion is serious in nature – and it can make it even more difficult, maybe even impossible, to resolve a disagreement.

Before learning how to solve these issues, we must first learn what and who the pursuer and the distancer are:

PURSUER:  The person who moves “inside the relationship” to solve a problem.  When an issue or problem arises, this person typically wants to jump right in and have a conversation immediately with the other person.  The pursuer wants to fix the problem “right here, right now”.

DISTANCER: The person who moves “outside the relationship” to solve a problem.  This doesn’t mean the person is running off to have an affair because they can’t deal with their problems — it simply means the distancer is looking to find a way to process the issue in a way that’s comfortable to them, such as a hobby, exercising, talking to a trusted friend, etc.  This person doesn’t want to solve the problem immediately like the pursuer does.  They want to take time to “file their thoughts” and figure out a good solution.

NEITHER OF THESE PEOPLE ARE WRONG.

So, how do we solve this communication barrier in our relationships?

First, find out if you’re the pursuer or distancer.  It’s not a difficult answer to find.  Just think back on the last few disagreements or serious discussions you’ve had with your spouse.  Did you want to solve it immediately, or did you prefer to take your time to “hash it out” in your head?

Do you find it infuriating when your husband or wife doesn’t want to sit down with you and work out the problem as soon as you realize there is one?  Or do you get aggravated when your better half keeps pressing you for thoughts and solutions you just don’t have?

Sometimes, if people in a marriage or relationship are very similar, they can go back and forth on being the pursuer and distancer, depending on the situation, however it’s not extremely common.  Again, it’s not difficult to find out if this description fits you.

After you’ve identified who’s who in the relationship, the easiest way to solve the issues and problems you face is to table the discussion.  Yes, you read that right.  PUT IT ON PAUSE.  BUT, you must set a time to come back to the discussion to come to a resolution.  This could be a couple hours, a couple days, or whatever time the two of you agree on.  This assures the pursuer that there will be a resolution to the issue at hand, but it gives the distancer the time to sit down, think, and process the information and come back to the table ready with solutions.

Not convinced?  Put this into practice with an issue you’re facing, or the next disagreement you have.  See if both of you feel like you were able to have a more productive conversation with each other.


Continuing to struggle communicating in your relationship?  Remember, it’s okay to ask for help.  Even if you can’t convince your spouse to come with you, relationship counseling can be beneficial to giving you the strength and hope you’re looking for.  Schedule your appointment online here.

10 Communication Tips to Improve Your Relationship in Just One Week!

“The reason you don’t understand me, Edith, is because I am talkin’ to you in English and you’re listenin’ to me in ‘Dingbat’!”

Although blunt (and funny) Archie Bunker, the character in the TV show All in the Family had it right, didn’t he?  Sometimes the things we say and the way they’re heard can be completely different.

Let’s face it, relationships can be hard, but communicating with your significant other shouldn’t have to be.  We’ve prepared a free resource for you so you can better communicate with your better half.

Click here to get your copy of 10 Communication Tips to Improve Your Relationship in Just One Week!.  We’re confident if you put these tips into practice, you’ll be on your way to healthier communication.