Are you overwhelmed by the same conflict, the never-ending pattern of distress, and the piles of damage
built up in your relationship with your intimate partner?
To those of you who are so beat up you're feeling as if no amount of counseling or change in your significant other could bring your relationship back to the place it needs to be, maybe the answer isn't more effort or energy (right now), and maybe the answer isn't to leave (right now).
Maybe the answer is to wait.
Any pop culture advice you'll find, maybe even advice from close friends or family will likely entail some sort of action, and by "action," I'm referring to something that would require a person to invest more into the relationship, or establish a boundary and withdraw from it. These options both fail to take into account one thing...the humanness of the person reaching out, and the capacity (or lack thereof) of a person who feels completely depleted.
Neither of those options sound very good to anyone who has truly gotten to the end of their rope. Yet it is what we prescribe to those experiencing relational distress time and time again. Does something have to change? Yes, it absolutely does. But should we keep wasting our energy trying desperately to fix our relationship with specific actions that clearly haven't been successful up to this point? That, by definition folks, is insanity.
So, why wait? What is so special about waiting? And how will waiting change anything except waste time when I could be moving forward?
Waiting, when utilized properly, can bring clarity. Have you ever made a decision that months or even years later, you came to recognize as having been poorly thought out? A decision, even a serious one, that in hindsight looks rash? Waiting, waiting some more, and taking one last moment to wait even when you feel you've waited long enough can truly be invaluable to you. Even if your final decision doesn't change, you will have more certainty in the fact that you gave considerable time in effort to come to a decision altogether.
Intentional waiting is not a lack of effort toward the problem. Waiting with intention is not procrastination. It is not denial that a problem exists nor an unwillingness to take other action when other action becomes necessary. Intentional waiting often requires a great deal of diligence, as it is both recognition that a problem exists and a conscious decision to sit patiently in the challenge of that problem without anxiously moving to an action that may not be the best response to the problematic situation. It is an acceptance that time spent in the waiting is well-spent and is not to be considered wasted regardless of the final outcome.
Waiting can lead to a better-healed past and a healthier future. If you've taken time to read to the bottom of this post, you're likely serious about your contemplation of "what to do in your relationship." To be serious about your contemplation means the relationship has been significant enough that there are layers of impact, maybe it means you've gotten to know each other's families and/or friends. Maybe you have spent time living together, have gotten married, or have kids. Whatever the case, intimate relationships (of any depth or significance) do impact us even if the relationship comes to an end. Thus, processing the wounds of a committed relationship can be beneficial to both partners even if (at the end of waiting) the couple decides they no longer want to co-exist.
The bottom line is relationships are difficult and knowing what to do in any complicated situation is difficult. My job isn't to decide for you, but rather to support you, challenge you, and be present with you in any decision you make as an individual and/or as a couple. If you and your partner are uncertain of what comes next and you're interested in learning more about intentional waiting I'd love the opportunity to wait with you as you decide what you want your future to look like as a couple and/or as individuals.
*Disclaimer: Waiting is NEVER advised if you or other family members are at risk or physical, psychological, or emotional abuse. Safety is considered top priority above the sustainability of any relationship. All persons should take immediate action to establish safety for themselves and any minors when at risk of any neglect or abuse.