There are, and never will be, any set rules for dealing with a relationship that’s on the rocks. Every relationship is unique, and the circumstances will be dictated by the two unique characters involved. So I’m not going to be telling you anything that will make the process easy here, okay?
What I will be doing is suggesting ways you can talk, so each can understand what the other is thinking. Because the one thing that is sure is that if you don’t talk, it’s liable to end up messy.
Like any problem in life, the first step towards resolution is actually acknowledging there’s a problem there in the first place. That means one of you being brave enough to suggest talking about it; and that’s a really hard thing to do, because what you’re doing is opening a can of worms. Naturally, you’re going to be scared about where it’s all going to lead, but that’s no reason not to do it.
Talk about your feelings and why you think things have been going wrong; perhaps you’re bored or bringing the stress of work into the home. Money – or, more precisely, the lack of it – is also often a cause of strife. Then again, it might just be that living together hasn’t been the bed of roses you imagined it would be.
Remember particularly that this should not just be about what you think. Make sure you listen carefully to what your partner has to say and try to see things from his or her point of view. You may not – in fact, almost certainly won’t! – agree, but their perception of the relationship is just as important as yours and you need to give it equal credence.
The first thing you need to establish between you are your thoughts on whether you want your relationship to carry on. If you both agree that it’s worth fighting for, then you need to decide what you’re going to do differently.
Too many relationships fall into a pattern, usually after you move in together, whereby everything becomes a routine of work and sleep. So maybe you should think about establishing some special time just for the two of you; in other words, start dating again! Perhaps you should also think about spicing up your sex life a bit; remember when everything was new and exciting? Try looking for that feeling of adventure and discovery again. Even just making sure you each spend a few minutes each day talking about what’s happened at work can make a difference; not only does it mean you’re actually communicating, it also gives you a chance to share problems, successes, frustrations and triumphs.
Whatever you decide to do, you need to be as sure as you can that you’re both happy with the plan and willing to put the time and effort into following it through and doing everything you can to make it work. If you’re not, then you have to talk about the alternative. And that’s important – there’s no halfway house here. Because if you carry on the way you’re going, and just stay together because you’re scared to contemplate being alone, then things will just get worse.
It may be at the end of it that you decide that you can’t carry on together. If so, try to make the split as painless as you can (it will be better for you both in the long run), and if that means you just pack everything (if you need to, get some boxes from a packaging company like www.davpack.co.uk) you own and move out there and then so be it. Relationships which end badly usually do so because frustrations, resentments and disagreements have been allowed to fester. If you can realise at the right time that a relationship has no future, then you may still be able to save a friendship.