I was in session the other with a woman the other day who has been married for 15 years. She was talking about how she read somewhere that when it comes to relationships, women will typically process themselves out of a relationship before leaving while men will leave and then process themselves out afterwards.
She is absolutely right. Now of course this is a generalization and every relationship is different but often women will find themselves in a realtionship that isn’t working and will grieve the loss of it before deciding that they can no longer stay whereas their male counterpart will decide they aren’t happy and leave before processing all of the feelings that come up when a relationship ends.
To be clear, this isn’t my way of saying men make rash decisions – they don’t. It’s to say that they don’t necessarily go through all the grief of the loss first.
Why is this relevant to a relationship? For many reasons really. For starters, I hope if you’re reading this and you realize your relationship has been out of sync for awhile that you take that seriously and use this as an opportunity to sit down and really talk about what you need. It is also important to realize, if you are male (and in some ways if you’re female), that if your wife has been saying she is unhappy for awhile and has recently gone quiet, don’t assume that that is because she is now happy. Instead it could be that she is feeling resigned to things not changing. This isn’t healthy and the only way you will know this is if you ask her how she is really doing and what you can do differently (and women you need to articulate how serious you are when you say you aren’t happy).
If you’re female, it means you need to be sure to be checking in with your partner so that if he is unhappy you don’t feel blindsided by his decision to leave.
These blog posts are never fun for me to write because truthfully I would rather talk about happy things couples can do but the truth of the matter is that relationships end – and when they do, someone almost always gets hurt. So use this information to check in – to ask the difficult questions and to hear the responses. As much as that is scary and uncomfortable, avoiding it never makes things better.
Wishing you a lifetime of love and good connections.