Dr. Romance on How to Handle Breaking Up

Sometimes all efforts to keep a relationship going fail, and the only possible means of achieving happiness is to split up. When is it necessary to take this step? While no one can really except you and your partner, there are certain indicators that let you know a major change of some kind must be made.

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* If your partner has a problem with addiction, abuse or violence, it's important that you seek professional guidance before attempting to confront him or her. Self-help groups, support groups for spouses, and twelve-step programs (Al-Anon, ACA) can help you achieve significant results when they're used in conjunction with couple or family counseling.

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* Give it your best shot. Breaking up should be viewed as a last resort, and knowing that you did everything possible to solve the problems of your relationship will help you to avoid being left with feelings of unresolved guilt.

* Don't assume that your spouse knows how you feel. When you discuss the situation, be direct and clear, unless there's a risk of physical harm. Don't say something vague like "I don't think you love me," or "I'm not happy," and just hope that your message gets across. Confronting the issue will not mean destroying the relationship; what is deadly to a relationship is hiding from problems or doing nothing to solve them even after you've acknowledged their existence.

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