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Sometimes people seek out therapy to help them decide on what their next step should be.  Sometimes that’s a career change, sometimes whether or not they should ‘up sticks’ and move abroad, sometimes how they should deal with a particular issue with a particular someone.  Sometimes people seek out therapeutic support when they are deciding whether to stay in their current relationship or not.  “Should I stay or should I go?” is a dilemma many people face at one time or another and working through what exactly would be involved with the making of either decision can be complex.  I want to share here some of the thoughts that seem to come up most frequently at Ashwood Therapy, and I hope that they give you something to consider should you find yourself faced with the same choice.

~ “I’d be much better off on my own; it’d be less hassle” ~

If there is a lot of tension in a relationship, and if being together is increasingly stressful, the temptation to end the pairing may be strong.  No-one likes to live with an uncomfortable level of stress, and if you have a job or other role which can be pressured, perhaps the last thing you want is to have your stress levels raised even further when you walk back in through the door at home.  While the absence of this stress would be very welcome, it can be a good idea to bear in mind what else would be missing should you decide to end it.  If, for example, you usually sit down and watch the TV together before retiring for the evening, have you thought about how it would be to sit alone in front of the television each night?  No-one to argue over the channel choice with, for sure, but also no-one to share the latest drama or comedy series with either.  You might have a partner who is quite handy when it comes to DIY, and so while appreciating that the mood changes would leave if you were to split up, you might need to accept that you could end up hanging the next picture on the wall yourself.  I guess what I’m getting at here is that it can be an idea to think through the small, everyday changes that would present themselves were you to call it a day.  Freedom, and at times a slight feeling of loneliness, are what is sometimes described by clients.

~ “She / he was never a good mum / dad anyway – I’d be better off bringing the kids up by myself” ~

For a couple who have children together, there are additional things to consider.  It may be the case that one half of the partnership in your eyes doesn’t pull their weight when it comes to parenting, and you may well be right that you could do a better job of it if they weren’t there interfering.  While some mothers or fathers may sign over full custody to their partners, many more however will want to have ongoing contact with their children and continued input into their upbringing.  It can be difficult for children when parents separate, and some parents seem to find that once they split with their partner their children experience two very different styles of parenting from each half during the time they spend with them.  When there are children to consider, it is helpful if both parents work towards the best interests of the children, though this of course is not always the case.  Just because you are no longer in a relationship with your child’s mother / father often doesn’t mean that their influence will cease.

~ “They will change for me, once they realise how much I love them” ~

I would argue that a relationship between two people has the potential to change both parties – if both parties are open to being changed and growing together.  Sometimes people speak of how they are sure that their partner will make the changes that they want them to make, if only they stay with them and show them a different way of being.  I often find that the key here is to look at the evidence available, and not at the relationship through overly optimistic, rose-tinted spectacles.  While partnerships can allow people to develop and blossom, through mutual support, openness and understanding, it seems that the important word here is mutual.  If one half of the duo is not interested in being changed – for the better or otherwise – often despite the best efforts of their partner they will not move an inch in the way that is hoped for.  As a therapeutic counsellor I have learned that for people to change in a positive way, they must first be open (or at least not resistant) to the idea.  If you decide to stay in a relationship that is tough, perhaps doing so with your eyes wide open is the best way forward.  To look honestly at the facts, and to realise that things may not turn out as you would like just because you want them to can be a difficult yet valuable insight.

If you are considering leaving a relationship then, should you stay or should you go?  This is a personal and very involved question, and one which may not be at all easy to answer.  I would venture that weighing up the pros and cons of either decision is necessary, however painful or sobering this may be.  Opening ourselves up to both the benefits and the cost of our choices I would suggest means that we get to take into account all the angles that need our attention, and that, surely, will help us to make the best decision we can at that time.

Rob Oglesby B.A. (Hons) BSc MBACP (Accred) | Ashwood Therapy

Ashwood Therapy provides a discreet, confidential and professional online counselling service by encrypted video call, live instant messaging and secure email.  More details, including tips on wellbeing and information on current counselling session pricing, can be found at www.ashwoodtherapy.com

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Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Should You Stay or Should You Go? | Ashwood Therapy Blog