Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discuss how Valentine's Day could actually be the end of your relationship - click here.
According to a recent report, filings for divorce increase by up to 40% around Valentine’s Day. Why would partners think about calling it quits around the biggest romance holiday of the year?
The bill comes due on Valentine’s because many of us begin to think a little harder about our relationships—what we do have compared to what we wish we had in the relationship. As we consider those differences, that’s when trouble often begins.
To make matters worse, it often seems like everyone else has it better—flowers are being delivered, reservations are being made, and we are alone in what now looks to us like a loveless relationship. If your relationship is already in a rough patch, then you are more likely to focus on this day as a last ditch effort to pull it out of the fire. He either “gets it” or he doesn’t and many of us make large decisions based on what happens around this holiday.
In addition, people like to have simple stories or narratives to explain relationship endings. Valentine’s Day can be a perfect example of the serious failures in the relationship. Often what did happen—or didn’t—is played out in the social network of each partner.
So what happens when people talk about breaking up?
Certain conversations can redefine the relationship. Often times, people will fight and say things they don’t mean in the heat of the moment. However, even talking about breaking up can leave a permanent mark. It can actually be traumatizing for one or both of you.
When you talk about breaking up, you are rehearsing the death of the relationship. While your partner may move past the moment and forgive what you said, he will always remember your threat to leave even if you didn’t actually walk out the door. The bottom line is if say anything about breaking up, you need to be very sure that it is something you are serious about. You can’t take back the words once they are said.
So what are the basic questions you should ask yourself if you are considering breaking up?
Have you exerted every effort to repair the relationship? Have you talked to friends and family? Have you worked with a psychologist? This self inventory includes taking a hard look at what you may have done to your partner. Don’t sweep past that point since many of us don’t realize how we also have failed in the relationship.
Is your marital misery insurmountable? Are you really able to live without him forever and will you be less miserable as a single person?
Do you believe that your partner is incapable of being your ultimate partner? Have you lost your belief in the relationship but most of all in her basic personality fitting with yours?
Are you making an emotional decision? Are you so angry or so disillusioned that you are inaccurate about the potential of the relationship? Remain balanced and look at some of the positives that exist even if negatives are pronounced.
Are you making a decision using both your rational mind and your emotional mind? Research shows that the best decisions are made using both parts of your mind to weigh the pros and cons.
Are you ready for the aftermath of the divorce or break up? All the financial, logistical and social consequences? Are you willing to share your children on the weekends and holidays? Are you willing to win your freedom by making vast changes in your life? Make sure that the consequences are worth it.
Emotional Detachment: How emotionally detached have you become? Do you fundamentally not care anymore and do you define yourself as separate and on your own? Research shows that emotional detachment is the number one predictor of divorce.
But don’t you worry – there is hope if you are thinking of breaking up around Valentine’s Day.
I believe almost any relationship is fixable if the following factors are present:
First, Early Warning: You have the best shot at fixing your relationship if you catch serious problems early and address them head on. Most people wait an average of six years before they seek help for a struggling marriage. By the time they make it into the counselor's office, one or both partners has already left the relationship either physically or emotionally.
Accountability Is Key: Remain personally accountable even if the truth is painful. Relationships are our greatest teachers because our greatest faults are always in play. If you have difficult parts of your personality, don’t blame your relationship for your own personal problems. Face the challenges and overcome them with the help of your partner.
Meet In The Middle: Problems have solutions if both parties can compromise and commit to working as a team. You won’t always get your own way, but you can strike a balance between the needs of both parties if both of you will give a little bit.
Never Give Up: Resilient couples push through even when things get tough. If you truly love your partner, remain committed to them and keep trying to get your relationship back on track.
The Work of Dr John Gottman