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Should I stay or should I go?

View profile for Liz Headley
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As divorce rates rise in the Britain to make them some of the highest in Europe, individuals ask themselves this question more and more frequently. There is no easy answer, no set of tick box questions that will come up with the ‘right’ decision for an individual. The decision to end a relationship can be based on an individual’s expectation of their partner and marriage in general as well as being influenced by cultural and religious beliefs. Marital expectations can be based on an assortment of things, for example a person’s experience of their parent’s marriage and how that worked. As a child we absorb huge amounts of information by observing what goes on around us, including subliminal messages about gender roles in relationships and what is acceptable behaviour in a marriage. How your parents conducted their relationship can be enormously influential when creating your own beliefs in how a marriage should be. We are also heavily influenced by the media, family and friends on what makes a successful relationship.

If an individual has a positive sense of self worth they are likely to be more resilient and have the ability to manage the challenges that complex relationships bring, they may have the confidence to examine a faltering marriage and take steps to seek help with their partner in order to resolve any issues they have been co-created. If problems arise within a relationship and both parties are willing to look at their own behaviours and make any necessary changes, then there is a possibility that the marriage will survive and won’t increase the divorce statistics.

Sadly this isn’t always possible, particularly where there are major power and control issues within a relationship or if any type of abuse is present. Arguably these are the unhealthy relationships that should end. However it can be really hard to leave a marriage such as this when you are not the dominant partner or you are the victim of the abuse, as your confidence, self-worth and self belief is so diminished it’s hard to make a stand. These types of relationships do end though and recognition should be given to those courageous enough to take that difficult step and seek a divorce, by doing so they are regaining some control, stepping out of the victim role and no longer being bullied and abused. Divorce in this case is something to be proud of and celebrate. Brethertons offer an in-house therapeutic intervention that can be crucial when trying to exit an abusive relationship, details are on the website.

Inevitably some marriages were just not meant to be, they may have taken place for the wrong reasons, run out of steam or the two people involved may have matured and changed to such a degree that they are no longer compatible. Some couples do choose to stay together for the sake of security and stability but that does beg the question, how happy and fulfilled can they be?

So let’s not be too depressed by a rise in divorce rates it could mean that people are having the courage to end an abusive or meaningless relationship and moving on to increase their self worth and potential happiness.

For any advice please contact the Family team.