Deciding about your relationship, when is the right time to decide?

While I am happy for many of my clients and friends who will get to celebrate this holiday season with their friends and loved ones, my heart goes out to those sad and frustrated people who may be dreading the holidays because they are feeling stuck, numb and confused in their unhappy relationships. It is for these people that I am writing this article.

I have noticed that January seems to be a big month for couples looking for help to improve their relationships. It seems that they don't want to rock the boat dealing with issues during Christmas time. So many put on a brave front and smile, while inside they wish they were somewhere else and possibly with someone else. What a sad way to spend the holidays!

Making the decision to stay or leave is very difficult and can be exhausting and stressful. Everyone needs to consider all their options; how people will react, if they are doing the right thing, will their children suffer, what about finances, what about the guilt? These are all real and valid questions that need to be addressed and dealt with. However, it can also be a relief to actually finally make that decision. Once the decision is made, you are no longer in limbo and can start having a plan and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Making the decision to stay, means re-focusing on your relationship and committing to do whatever it takes to make it work. The good news is that with this commitment, even if in the end it doesn't work out, at least you can tell yourself, your children and your family, that you did everything you could.

Making the decision to leave can be even more challenging. Aside from all the preparation and planning it will take, you also need to be strong enough to deal with all the repercussions. I think this is a step many people forget. They know that they have the make a decision, but they may not realize that just because they have been thinking about it for years, it may come as a big shock to their partner or children and they will have to be ready to deal with their reactions.

Even once you decide to leave, remember there is no pressure or timeline to act on the decision immediately. You may leave today, tomorrow or even next year. You can take your time, build up your self-esteem, find out your rights, get your finances in order, even go for counseling for support and help to get through this stressful time. There is no question there will be highs and lows. You need to be prepared to do battle and win. On the average, it takes a woman up to 5 years, to make the decision to leave a marriage or long-term relationship. But once they have made it, few regret it or look back. Most of the comments I have received from men and women who, after serious contemplation and efforts have separated, tell me they should have left years ago.

I am not here to urge anyone to leave or to give up and stay in an unhappy relationship, But it may be time, to start really analyzing and coming to a decision, even if you aren't ready yet to follow through on it. It will help you to get out of limbo and feel back in control. It can alleviate you from feeling powerless and stuck to now having a goal to strive for.

Ending this year with a decision that you know is right for you is empowering. Remember your relationship is what you are modeling for your children for how relationships should be. They are very likely to choose a partner in life that will repeat the same patterns as they have experienced in their own childhood. You need to ask yourself "If this is not a relationship I would want for my children, then how can I justify staying in it myself." Remember it is not what you tell your children that affect them the most; it is the choices you make and how you cope with life.

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