Nine Questions Every Couple should Ask Themselves

You’re tired of the fighting, the coldness, and unkindness. Should you end your relationship or marriage, or is there still a possibility–however remote—that it can be saved?

Dr. Lawrence Birnbach and Dr. Beverly Hyman, co-authors of How To Know If It’s Time To Go: A 10 Step Reality Test for Your Marriage, developed the following questions for the person who believes she has tried everything to improve their seriously troubled marriage but has had absolutely no success. If you can answer yes to each of these questions, then you may have exhausted all of your options.

Be honest!

Have I let my partner know how dangerous my level of discontent is and that I am close to a breaking point, close to a divorce? You need to be completely honest because there’s a lot to lose. “People become distant and angry because they hide their dissatisfaction, rather than bring it out in the open and try to work it out,” said Dr. Birnbach and Dr. Hyman.

Nine Questions Every Couple should Ask Themselves

Have I tried self-improvement that would matter to my partner? Have I tried going along with some of my partner’s insistent requests of me? “Be the best person you can be in every way,” they say. “That includes being a compassionate human being and a forgiving one.

If you want that from your mate, be willing to give it—first.” Have we tried spending more time with each other? Have we tried spending less time? If you’ve tried changing your day-to-day routine, but it’s brought no positive changes in how you act with one another, that may be a sign that it’s better to part.

Sex life?

Have I taken steps to improve our sex life, if that is an issue? “Sex and affection are a kind of glue in a marriage,” said Dr. Birnbach and Dr. Hyman. “Marriages that survive need to find their way back from the physical distance that the dissatisfaction and tension have created.”

Have I tried getting a job to increase our income or to provide more stimulation in my life? Money, career, and jobs are key issues that a couple has to have an agreement on in a satisfying relationship.

Have I tried stepping down from my career track or adjusting my ambitions? If your relationship comes second to your career, this may be a problem that cannot be fixed.

Family and Friends

Have I talked to family and friends who are likely to be objective and neutral to get their perspective? People who know you both might have some refreshing observations about what you can do to fix your relationship challenges. If this exercise doesn’t offer any insight or new hope, however, that may indicate that it’s time to part.

Have we tried couples counseling? Have I tried individual counseling? Ideally, you should pursue counseling as a couple or alone for at least a year. “You can’t rescue a marriage all by yourself,” said Dr. Birnbach and Dr. Hyman. Professional counseling can provide relationship guidance and a neutral referee.

Trial Separation

Have we tried a trial separation as an almost last resort? This can give you a good perspective on what life will be like without your partner—and it may not be so bad. “Don’t let yourself be taken in by the myths about divorce,” they say.

“For example, lots of people fear that if they do end their marriage, they will never have another mate.” Yet 83 percent of men and 75 percent of women who divorce remarry. When you do enter into a new relationship, be sure to look for—and offer—qualities that will ensure its success, such as responsibility, honesty, respect, and loyalty. Here’s a nice article for you, if you want to know how to stay together.