'Never again am I doing that.' 'I really don’t want a summer holiday like that again.' If these two thoughts have gone through your mind over the past 3 months, you won't be alone. The first Monday in September is apparently the second most common day for making a decision about a very unhappy relationship, second to the Monday after the New Year.
It's easy to feel disappointed at this time of year as we are reminded of another summer gone, the year passing and things left undone. If a summer holiday 'en famille' was a disaster because the relationship is in tatters, emotions are heightened even more. There's sometimes some joy in taking the children on holiday alone, but you still need to come back and deal with the underlying issues. I remember unhappy family holidays struggling in keeping everyone happy but myself; getting through it and thinking 'never again'. Believe me, you can feel even lonelier holidaying with a spouse whilst in an unhappy relationship than holidaying alone. But it does get easier as your confidence in your own ability grows.
If next year is to be different, now is the time to review where you are and what you can do.
What have you achieved? However small, it's important to give yourself credit.
How many people have been as brave as you? What have you learnt?
Ask yourself 'How can I use my strengths, knowledge and support to move me forward?'
What are your goals? Will things be different (better even) next year?
What does this coming Christmas look like for you? What needs to change?
What do you need to have done that is different to effect this change?
How will you keep your resolve?
If by asking these questions, you find yourself wondering whether you are facing separation – divorce even – the hardest questions to find an answer to may be these:
How do I know if my marriage is really over?
The main signs are poor communication & avoiding communicating. Do you stay away from home to avoid contact? How do you feel when your partner is out of the home? Relieved? On edge when they return? It is said that a healthy interaction is 5 positive exchanges to one negative exchange. Or perhaps you don’t communicate at all.
We have nothing to say to each other - should I get a divorce?
How do you feel about this? Many couples live very different lives without having to be together or even communicate very much. Do you share activities without actually needing to say very much? Some couples communicate through their children and friends. Do you want to communicate better with your spouse? If the answer is yes, how would you improve communication?
We don't have sex anymore - should I get a divorce?
How important is sex to you? Who is it a problem for? What needs to change in order for you to have a regular sex-life? If changes weren't possible, how are you going to feel one year down the line and five years on?
We argue constantly - should I get a divorce?
What are you arguing over - big things or trivial things? If it's big things, what have you done, or what could you do, to turn them around so that they are not an issue between you? If you're arguing over trivial things, ask why. Is it perhaps to score points or because you are disappointed with your partner? Before you get into an argument, ask yourself what you are getting out of it? Will it move you forwards?
What should I do to fix my marriage?
What have you tried? Communicating with your spouse is a good place to start. If this is impossible, ask them if they would join you in some relationship counselling or coaching. An important thing to realise is that it takes both parties willingness to change to make reconciliation truly work but one person changing can also catapult the other into making changes, which make the difference.