“Is it a deal breaker?”
5 relationship deal-breakers….. or perhaps not!
A fresh perspective on 5 things we traditionally think lead to relationship breakdown
At some time in our lives, just about all of us have asked ourselves the question immortalised by The Clash, “Should I stay, or should I go?”
In this post I will look at 5 “deal breakers” that do not, in my opinion, need to signal the end a relationship. Instead, perhaps these deal breakers could even be the catalyst needed to get your relationship back on track.
- They don’t do 50% of the chores
Yes, I know this is a stereotypical and perennial issue, but I’m starting with this one because this has been a big issue for me, and many women I know. Housework has been one of the hardest things to deal with in my marriage. My thoughts around chores were making me cranky, negative and hurt to the point where my marriage was suffering. On a conscious level, I never thought this issue was worthy of breaking up over. However, sub-consciously it was undermining our relationship. It wasn’t that he was being lazy, he just wasn’t as aware. I felt hurt because it seemed that either he didn’t want to help me or didn’t care that I was overwhelmed. The anger from this started radiating out into every area of our marriage.
I was only able to shift this when I finally realised that my husband and I have different superpowers. I was expecting my husband to be like me. I wanted him to be more focused on the things that I thought were important. When, my vision was skewed. The things I was focussed on, come quite naturally to me and the things that he was focussed on come naturally to him. Things such as; mapping the finances, paying bills, fixing things and doing research as well as working long and stressful weeks.
When I let the tension go around needing to split things 50/50, and instead allowed us to do the things we found more natural, we started really working as a team. I found that working to our superpowers made me feel more supported by him. As a bonus, without my pressure and grumpiness, he became more attuned to my needs and more able to help with the cooking and cleaning. Happy days!
Of course, you may be in a relationship with someone who isn’t pulling their weight overall, but before jumping to conclusions, have another look to see if part of the issue is that you have different superpowers.
- We are just so different
As you would have read in number 1, my husband and I are quite different in many ways. However, being different to your partner does not need to be a deal breaker. Yes, it can be irritating and inconvenient at times when you want to go travelling and your partner doesn’t, or you love art galleries and he loves the beach. While it is great to have things in common with your partner, there is no need to have the same likes and dislikes, beliefs or thoughts. In fact, why not make this an opportunity for you to have a thriving life outside of your relationship? Why not allow this to give you more to come back in and talk about?
A useful metaphor here is our eyes. We have 2 eyes to give us perspective. Perspective gives us depth. It is important that you and your partner see things differently. They help us, just like our 2 eyes, see in 2 dimensions. For example, if you have different spiritual or political leanings to your partner, it will help you tease out your values, reasons and clarity around what you believe. Your partner’s differences are here to expand you.
- Is he my soul mate?
Is he or isn’t he my soul mate? It sounds like a harmless question, but in truth this line of thinking can create an unhealthy cascade of negativity which could cause a wedge between you and your partner.
The problem with the ‘soulmate’ question is how we define the term. In our culture, it tends to mean that we have a romanticised notion of our partner as someone who adores our every move. For me, this sounds less like a soulmate, and more like a fairy-tale. The issue with this is that the minute our partner treats us in any other manner (i.e. as a human), we are already (at a subconscious level) thinking about packing our bags.
I like to think about the ‘soul’ differently from this. For me, the soul is the part of you that wants the very best for you. Your soul is much more interested in your growth than you being adored. The soul wouldn’t just choose someone who dotes on you, instead, your soul is much more likely to choose someone who helps you to grow as person. This may come in the form of teaching you how to stand up for yourself or asking for what you want. So, let’s stop asking the question is he or isn’t he my soulmate, and instead commit to being in this relationship and learning what we can from it.
- He is not into spiritual growth
I know many women are really working on themselves: healing, growing, researching and looking at their wounds. At the same time, I see some of them getting frustrated that their partners are not doing it, too. They make efforts to invite and encourage their partners to join them on their journey, but very often to no avail.
The issue here is that you can’t force spiritual growth onto anyone. Spiritual healing only works when it is internally motivated. You can suggest books, courses and meditation classes, but if your partner is not keen, my advice is to leave them be. Their path is theirs and they will take their own time. Remember that to find the impetus to grow we often need a certain level of stuckness, frustration or pain to get moving. Check out my online program “Shift your relationship without changing him”.
But, do not despair. In my experience, if you are doing the expanding and healing, your relationship will grow anyway – with or without your partner consciously focusing on their own spiritual healing. If you are putting in the hard yards, you will change the way you are together.
Well, I saved the most obvious to last. Infidelity is a deal breaker for most. Of course, there are many situations where it should mean the end – but not always.
They key here is that infidelity should not be seen in isolation. It is often the result of a long chain of actions performed by both partners. Relationship expert, John Gottman, has mapped out 24 steps to infidelity. Step one of those 24 steps is the turning away from your partner. Turning away could come in the form of ignoring, giving the cold shoulder, avoiding a much-needed conversation etc. While there are no excuses for that betrayal, pointing the finger in blame at step 24 when not taking any responsibility for the prior 23 steps does not seem like the empowered way to go.
I’ll leave you with the words of Esther Perel from her TED talk “Rethinking infidelity”, in which she says that infidelity is the end of that marriage but perhaps you can start again with the same partner.
So, if you can both do the repair and healing that is needed then why not start afresh with this partner?
So here are 5 things that you no longer have to think of as deal breakers. How would you feel if you didn’t have to worry about these issues breaking you up?
These things don’t need to matter if other things are going well. And let’s face it, what really matters in your relationship is your connection. Connection will ebb and flow over the cycles and lifetime of your relationship, just like anything.
Whatever goes on between you, whether mistakes are made, and hurt is inflicted, it is your willingness to repair, communicate, get honest and come back together that really matters. It is these things that will get you back into a state of connection, which is what being a couple is all about.