If you are faced with this question, make sure you are doing everything you can to live well with your decision in hindsight. Therefore a thorough preparation of your decision is necessary. At best, you will find a common and benevolent process with your partner¹. Because no matter how the decision turns out later: This other person is important for you. She may even have shaped your life intensively for a long time and also if her possibly. If you go your separate ways, the value of the connection remains. Everything the other person has meant to you, what they have given you, what they have taught you… All of that is part of your identity and you shouldn’t rush to cut a connection that is such an important part of your history without a serious effort.
An important question when separation is on the horizon:
Would you both like to seriously consider whether – and under what conditions – you want to continue your relationship??
It involves a willingness and openness to ask oneself and the other person serious questions and to seek truly adequate answers. For this step you need to actively turn to each other.
Your relationship probably no longer has a chance if..
If your partner has already closed up inside and doesn’t want to turn towards you anymore, also not in order to be able to make a decision, if necessary. say goodbye to each other amicably and fairly, then you have little chance of success. If the situation between you is dominated by accusations, reproaches, criticism and isolation and the atmosphere feels “poisoned”, if there is not a single friendly sentence left, not a single eye contact, only a feeling of defensiveness and loneliness, then your relationship has little chance and there is much to be said for saying goodbye as soon as possible and thus creating a situation in which your injuries can heal.
If you want professional help to find out if your relationship is still salvageable, you can arrange a free initial consultation with one of our coaches here .
Your relationship still has a chance if..
If there is a common interest, if there is courage in addition to fear and defense, and the desire to find a common path together, then there is a lot of chance that your relationship will have a happy future.
Separation – Yes or No?
I give you here an exercise that can support you to find a decision that is coherent for you, whether it is better to separate or whether your relationship still has a chance.
To systematically lay the groundwork for your decision, it’s useful to travel back in time to see what the special characteristics and qualities of your relationship are. Next, I recommend looking at your present and then exploring your (still) uncertain future. Depending on your and your partner’s decision, you can then prepare your farewell or set the structure for the next stage of your relationship.
The look back
Looking back helps to see the relationship in its entirety. Often we only see the current dilemma, the crisis we are in, or the issue that is currently weighing us down in the relationship. We forget what we have already experienced together, what we have in common, what we appreciate about each other. Therefore it is useful to take a look back. It can also happen that you discover that it has never really been right between you and that the relationship has been marked by conflicts and crises throughout. This may be a disappointing realization, but it can support you in the further process. If you can clearly see what your relationship has been about so far, you have a good starting point to make a decision for the future.
Look back at the time you first met: what was it like when you first got to know each other?? How did you feel? How did you experience your partner? What made this time special for you?
Then explore the phases of your relationship. Relationships go through different stages. At the very beginning there is an infatuation phase, which can last from 3 to 36 months. Phases of your relationship can be marked by decisive changes such as the birth of your child, a shared apartment, marriage. But even things that seem trivial at first sight can be a stage of your relationship. Find out what characterizes the different stages of your relationship and what was especially important to you in them.
Tip: My clients in the Couple Care practice program often find it helpful at this point to create a graphic or mind map to better grasp the different stages of the relationship.
After you have taken a look back at the phase of getting to know each other, I invite you to take a look at the influence your partner has had on your life so far through your relationship. We learn so much with and through our partnerships and through our partners and are often not even aware of it. Your relationship with your partner has undoubtedly shaped you in one way or another over your time together. Find out exactly how your partner has shaped you in your relationship. Maybe you can think of something you learned from her? Something she inspired you to do? Something you have managed to implement through her? Something where she was a role model for you? Something that has changed in you and your life through them?
Why it’s useful to take a look at what impact the partnership had on your life to decide if you should break up? Among other things, this is about appreciation. Realize that you may not be who you were before your relationship. Your partner has shaped you and you have probably changed through your relationship. Noticing this change allows you to see where you are right now and creates the basis to move on from this point.
You will benefit the most if you really take your time to answer all the questions. Answering the questions and the feelings that come with them can be challenging at times. Maybe it is also supportive for you to talk about it with a friend.
Should I separate?
Looking at the here and now of your relationship
Why is it important to take a look at the here and now of your relationship when you are thinking about breaking up?? You get clarity about the reasons why you are thinking about breaking up. You become aware of which of your needs are not being met in your relationship right now and also which of your partner’s needs you can’t or don’t like to meet in your relationship right now. If you can see clearly what is wrong in your relationship, what is the reason for your doubts, then you can check alone and with your partner if your relationship still has a chance or if you should better separate.
Often we avoid what bothers us in our relationship. There is something we absolutely can’t stand about the other person or we can’t handle it well when the partner does or doesn’t do something certain. The contact with the partner brings us in contact with something we don’t have and especially don’t want to feel, with something unpleasant.
I sometimes find that my clients need a little push to really explore what it is that is causing the doubt and crisis. Because repressing is often much easier. It is easy to blame the partner and the relationship for your own doubts about the relationship and whether it would be better to break up. But I want to challenge you to look right here and now at what it is that is making you unhappy in your relationship. And yes, this may hurt at first but it opens the door to a long term happy and lively relationship.
If you are thinking about separating, then take your time and find out what the reasons are that you might want to separate. Why do you doubt your relationship?? What is it that is making you unhappy in your current relationship? Often there is one main conflict that is putting a strain on the relationship.
If you would like support in this, I invite you to join my practice program. Experienced coaches and couple therapists will guide you to your own personal happiness in love. And yes, the way to a happy relationship can also lead through a breakup. However, it is often the case that the couple’s conscious confrontation with the question of whether a separation would be better is the starting point for intensive couple care and takes the relationship to a new level. If you and your partner don’t have Couple Care yet, here’s how to set it up.
Should I separate? The look into the future
Looking into an uncertain future
In this step you will not yet make the decision to break up. Nevertheless, you will study both variants intensively and “pretend” on a trial basis. Here it is important that you give yourself the inner space to explore your options without censoring or judging yourself. Just drift with the writing and follow your instincts. Give room to your imagination. Everything you write here will give you valuable self-knowledge later on.
Start by imagining yourself breaking up. Put yourself in the moment when you tell your partner your decision and then describe everything that happens afterwards very precisely.
I tell my partner that I am separating. My partner looks tormented and inside me I feel a stabbing pain. I feel guilty. I want to hug him, at the same time I can’t right now. I leave without another word because I can’t stand it. I am sitting in a cafe and I know that I am really breaking up now. I can think of a thousand tasks to do now … (enumeration)… I feel…. Between all the pain, I feel relieved, and I feel a strange anticipation of what is to come….
Please write this task in presence. Put yourself completely in the situation. The fact that you are imagining this now does not mean that you will have to separate in the end. But it helps you explore what that would be like for you.
Now turn your attention to the opposite. Imagine you decide that you will not separate. That you continue to stay with your partner. Describe what happens after you share your decision.
How does it feel for you? Maybe relieving or hopeful or depressing? How does your partner react? What dialogues are taking place between you in your imagination?? Explore all your feelings, the positive as well as the negative ones. Pay attention to your doubts as well and write them down. What are your wishes for your future relationship?
Make your decision
After you have explored both variants in writing, find two different places in your apartment. One place stands for the scenario of separation, the other place for a new start together.
Now go to one of the two places, read everything you wrote down before about this variation and then close your eyes.
What kind of images appear around you? What do you perceive when you are fully immersed in this scenario? What do you see, hear, smell, taste and feel?? Make it real.
And then feel into your body. How does your body feel in this scenario? What posture do you take? Scan your body from bottom to top. What can you perceive? Where does your body feel comfortable, where uncomfortable? Where it may tighten? Where does it get tight? Where to go?
Take a few minutes to feel your body sensations.
Then switch to the other place in your home and do the same exercise with the second scenario. Read your notes, close your eyes, let it become as real as possible and perceive this reality with all your senses.
Then focus your attention on your body sensations and explore how the decision feels on a physical level.
If this somatic exploration of the two scenarios is not very tangible for you, or you would like some support with this, schedule an initial consultation now. My experienced coaches will be happy to guide you through this exercise.
Now that you have systematically looked at the past, the present and the future, you have created the best basis for making the right decision for you.
Finally, I would like to leave you with the following questions:
If you are separating:
If you do separate, take time to reflect the following things for yourself:
- What am I grateful for?
- What do I take from you?
- What will I miss?
- What will I gain?
If you don’t break up:
If you do not separate, it is important that you clarify the following questions for yourself
- What needs want to find a space in our relationship?
- What should our Couple Care look like?
If you want companionship so that your separation can proceed without a War of the Roses, or you want support in setting up Couple Care for a happy relationship, then schedule an initial consultation now. Your personal coach will guide you or you individually according to the situation you are currently in.
¹ For the sake of readability, the masculine or feminine form is chosen. Regardless of this, please feel addressed where it affects you.