Healthy Relationships, part 3

...On the other hand, maybe it is time to break a commitment that has ceased to be healthy and is clearly not going to change.

"Should I stay or should I go?....if I go there will be trouble. If I stay there will be double."
From album Combat Rock, The Clash 1981 The Clash on YouTube

Sometimes there is no solution except to stop, get out and change...change yourself and your surroundings. There is no point in hanging on to something that is destructive and no longer viable, maintaining a commitment that is damaging and refusing to get out of a harmful relationship, caustic job, deteriorating business deal or other situation. Relationships become toxic, people change for the worse, addictions progress, anger and blaming increase while personal responsibility decreases. Some people never get help to reverse the downward spiral; some business deals and investments never improve. Jobs, partnerships and marriages can become abusive, the progression so subtle it is difficult to recognize. Stuck and thwarting personal growth and progress, these situations rarely improve, and then only if everyone involved changes. Property may lose value and paying a mortgage may no longer make sense. Purchases made when your buying power was better may need to be returned or sold for what they are now worth (or less). Situations change. The best decision for yesterday may not be the best for today.

If you are in a destructive relationship, try everything you know to fix it. Maybe you are the problem. Change yourself and anything else that is changeable, your attitude and your perspective. Accept whatever is acceptable, NOT what is unacceptable, never accepting physical OR emotional abuse. Do the old 'two columns: one for pros, one for cons'. Work with a therapist, counselor or mentor, find a support group or a therapy group, attend a relationship workshop (unbelievably helpful), talk with someone who understands the problem, perhaps someone who has dealt with the same thing. Ask those with healthy relationships how they work. Read pertinent articles and books. If the relationship does not improve to an acceptable, even good level as a result of your individual work, maybe you are not the only problem (duh! It usually takes two to destroy a relationship). Consider requesting your spouse, partner or whomever get help as well, either individually or with you (this applies to friends, coworkers, parents and children, siblings and other family). Sometimes when one person changes, others change in response; sometimes those changes are for the better.

If none of the above results in progress and your marriage, job or other situation continues to be harmful, consider ending the commitment. Maybe it is time to let go of something already gone, something that is just illusion or fantasy, not what your thought is was or not what is used to be. No relationship or job is perfect, but if the one you are in is dying and cannot be resuscitated, could the answer be to extricate yourself and move on?

Change brings loss, frightening and painful, but without dumping the old there is no room for the new. Hmmm...what else...how about: consider meditation and prayer...maybe someone up there is willing to help you make a decision.

Dr. Dawn Obrecht is the only MD addiction medicine specialist on the western slope of Colorado. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and her office is in Steamboat Springs. She teaches a communication course to medical students at the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver info@docdawn.com.


 

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