After my first serious relationship ended, I learned that the statement happily ever after only occurs in movies. Most human beings desire to be in a romantic relationship, despite knowing relationships take work and conflicts are likely to occur. I think the movies got it right with the statement you always hurt the one you love the most. It can be challenging to determine if remaining in a relationship is worth it.
People have differing perspectives and values on when a person should remain in or end a long-term relationship. When I work with a client individually or as a couple, I first help the client identify if he or she is working towards shared common goals with their partner. One relationship challenge is giving up a part of your individual goals for common relationship goals. It is important to determine if there is mutual agreement surrounding shared relationship goals. It is normal for couples to argue in relationships and it is important to argue effectively. Typically, I assist clients to learn how to end arguments quickly, take a break if needed to de-escalate feelings and to use perspective and compromising skills to resolve the conflict.
The most important part of determining if a relationship is healthy is to assess whether your partner values you. If your partner puts you down during an argument because he or she cannot recognize they hurt your feelings or lack de-escalation skills, those are issues where skills can be learned. However, if your partner intentionally puts you down to make themselves feel good and is unwilling to change his or her behavior, you may want to evaluate if you want to remain in the relationship. If you believe you cannot be loved, feel that it is your fault your partner treats you poorly, or you do not believe you deserve to be with someone who treats you better, please know you are worthy of a partner who values and respects you. Through support in therapy or support from positive people who have your best interests in mind, you can find the strength to feel good about yourself and know your worth. A healthy and respectful relationship is hard work, but worth it.
James Ogle, LCSW
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