There is no doubt that the breakdown of relationships can be challenging for individuals and families. Separation is not an event; it is often a long drawn out process. Consequences can go on and on - often unintended. Somehow the relationship doesn't fit like it once did, and perhaps we begin to look outside the relationship to get our needs met.
There seems to be three options open to us when the relationship breaks down: change it, leave it or live with it. As part of a couple, the choices each person makes are dependant on what choices the other person is making.
Change can be hard. It can be too difficult. One partner can end a relationship. One partner can choose to remain psychologically in the relationship. There are often feelings of loss, anger and despair. And if these feelings are not acknowledged, they can fester and make us feel worse.
Clients often know what they want but it's the not knowing which presents challenges. The containing presence of the therapist is vital i this response. It requires patience and the holding of both partners' tolerance of indecision and pain.
A successful outcome can be separation or be stronger together. Partners can appeals for the therapist to be on their wide but the therapist cannot take sides, for clients to trust the therapist each needs to feel and believe the independence and fairness of the therapist.
When relationships are struggling our internal map disappears - we become confused - practically and emotionally. We may have taken the wrong turning. We are lost. Yet it is important to believe that a new map can emerge.
A good therapist will help the couple to navigate their future. As individuals; and perhaps as partners too. It is important to remember there can be a successful outcome whether we stay together or not.
Personal growth is just that. Personal.