“Hi Celes, I have been engaged to a guy for four years. Lately, we have been feeling quite irritated and exhausted around each other. Every talk is an argument now.
Though ours is a very serious relationship (and I still love him), I don’t know how to deal with this. If we break up, I’m not sure how to tell our parents. Please help Celes.” – Muna
Hey Muna, it sounds like your relationship is in a state of volatility. Usually that happens when both parties are growing in different rates/directions (which then ‘upsets’ the relationship dynamic) and/or when both parties uncover striking areas of incompatibility.
It’s a delicate shakeout period, where both of you need to decide if this relationship is still the one for you, and if so, how you want to manage the differences.
Should You Stay On?
I have four questions to decide if you should stay on:
- Do you still love him? You mentioned you still do, so that’s one reason to stay. If you don’t love him anymore, then this discussion is already over. If there is no love, there is no relationship to speak of.
- Do you still want to be in this relationship? If you don’t, then the discussion is already over as well.
- The issues between both of you now—are they mendable? Are they issues which can be resolved or fundamental incompatibilities that can never be rectified (in your opinion)? If it’s the former, then the relationship is still salvageable, provided you answered yes to Q1 and Q2. On the other hand, if it’s the latter, then it might be time to move on.
- Do you see a future in this relationship? If yes, then good. If no, if you think your relationship has reached its peak and it’s only going to stagnate or get worse from here, the situation sounds bleak.
Ideally, you should answer “yes” to all four questions to stay on.
If you answered “no” to one or more of the questions, then maybe you are better off cutting your losses, ending the relationship now, and moving on. If you don’t know if you love your partner anymore, if you aren’t sure you still want to be with him, if you don’t think the issues are mendable, and/or if you don’t see a future in the relationship, things will only get worse when you get married. You are going to see each other every single day and spend the rest of your lives together under the same roof.
This is someone you are going to marry, so you want to think through this carefully. You want to marry someone you can’t wait to see every day, not be with someone you feel irritated and exhausted around, and certainly not someone whom you don’t feel excited waking up next to.
How to Improve a Strained Relationship
If you decide to stay on, you need to address the issues and not let things remain status quo, because continuous arguing isn’t the way to go. Not only is this emotionally draining for you, it’s also emotionally draining for him. Your relationship should elevate both of you, not hold you guys down.
- Have a heart-to-heart. Talk to him about your thoughts about your relationship. Tell him that you have been disturbed by the arguments but let him know you love him and you want to work things out. Then, hear what he has to say.
- Introduce a cooling period. Sometimes, absence can make the heart grow fonder. Some distance can help you guys to ease into your personal space and get perspective on how you want to take the relationship forward. The cooling period can be a week, a month, or however long is needed. You can still meet up and talk to each other in between, just perhaps not as frequently as before.
- Avoid creating new conflicts. Since the relationship is in such a delicate state, avoid creating any new conflict. This is not to avoid your problems, but to prevent fraying the relationship further. You want to foster your bond by building on commonalities between both of you, not create more issues which will only separate you guys further.
- Think about the happy moments. How you perceive the relationship will affect the relationship itself because of the vibes you send out. Put aside the negativity from the recent period and focus on the positive stuff instead. Think about the happy moments you guys had together. Think about the times he made you laugh, and when you made him laugh. Use these memories, not the recent arguments, to inspire you in dealing with the issues now.
- Remember what you like/love(d) about him. Both of you once met as strangers and fell in love with each other. When did you realize you liked/loved him, and why? What did you like/love about him then? What do you like/love about him now? Focus on these things, rather than the things you don’t like.
- Do something nice for him. What does he like that you can get him? Is there any problem he is facing lately that you can help him in? What does he enjoy doing that you guys can do together? What nice surprises can you spring on him? These acts of kindness and love will surely bring a smile to his face.
By doing these six steps, he should hopefully recognize your efforts and reciprocate as well. With both of you working together, you should be able to salvage the relationship and bring it back the way it was.
If You Decide to End the Relationship…
If you decide this relationship is not for you and/or if you have tried your best to salvage the situation to no avail, then it’s time to move on.
- Breaking up with your partner. Talk to your partner and let him know that things are just not working out for you. Hear what he has to say on this. Then, make a mutual decision on the relationship.
- Handling reactions of your loved ones. For your parents, I understand you don’t want them to be unhappy and they are probably going to object, but you have to let them know that he is no longer the one for you and you are no longer happy with him. If they care for you, they will respect that. All parents want their kids to be happy at the end of the day and what they want is for you to be happy. You just have to communicate to them that your happiness no longer lies with your fiance.
Don’t be with someone out of fear of someone else’s objections. It’s your happiness at stake. People may object, but that’ll only be temporary. A relationship with someone, now that’s your lifelong happiness we are talking about.
- Move on on a personal level. Just because you have broken up doesn’t mean you have moved on. Emotional and mental baggage can stay for us for a long time if not processed. The article 10 Steps To Move On From a Relationship will help you to move on on a personal level.
Some related articles for you:
- Top 12 Signs It’s Time To Move On From a Relationship — A checklist on whether it’s time to leave your man
- Top 10 Signs That He/She is “The One” For You 🙂 — Another checklist to determine if he’s the one for you
- How to Move On From A Heartbreak — My 3-part series on how I moved on from a heartbreak