Who is Helping You Get Off the Fence?

When two people are in a relationship and one decides to call it quits, does the other partner stand a chance to restore the rupture of an already broken relationship?

Every week I encounter stories of couples on the fence or in crisis vacillating between staying in or getting out of the relationship. In the past month, I’ve heard two people say, “I gave my partner an ultimatum – if I don’t see certain changes by this date then I’m out.”

The intensity of this statement would have you believe that this person has already made up their mind to leave, and their partner is in a no-win situation. However, the benefit of the doubt is where the hope lies. The opportunity for change and restoration lies within the time frame that is being extended

What appears to be a high stress situation that is driving an individual to leave their partner requires more consideration than simply acting on the impulse to take flight. Many couples who come to therapy are motivated by an overwhelming sense of pain, fear of loss, and rage. When we are hurting, quite naturally, we are likely to seek a deeper understanding of the cause. We want to know why and how to make the pain stop. Yet, sometimes people just leave without asking questions or doing the work to explore the possibility of change.

For couples who find themselves on the fence, Mira Kirshenbaum’s book, “Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay” provides a series of questions that helps couples reflect, reassess and gauge the options of leaving or staying for the right reasons. The questions asked helps one to identify the characteristics of an unhappy relationship and the deeper work for assessing the quality of their relationship. Before making a hasty decision from a place of pain the questions presented in the book are worth exploring. These reflections should be made in addition to the professional help of a couple’s therapist.

In the cases of the ultimatums described above, the possibility of hope requires the assistance of a non-judgmental, objective, and neutral professional who can offer guidance and insight around behavioral changes. The benefit of seeing a couple’s therapist or a life coach when you are fence sitting is receiving another perspective outside of the story. They will help you utilize the necessary tools for refining or redefining your future off the fence.