by Debra Fileta
“Breaking up is hard to do.”
I don’t know about you, but I wholeheartedly believe that the title of this song holds some serious weight. Breaking up is really hard to do. For those of us who have experienced the thrills of dating, we know that it also comes with some of the most heartbreaking and difficult moments life has to offer.
Breaking up is hard to do because the very nature of dating asks of us to give a part of ourselves into the hands of another. We give our time, our money and, most importantly, our hearts. Our emotions are more valuable than we often give them credit for—and any of us who have given them away know how difficult it can be to get them back.
For those of you who may find yourselves in the aftermath of a breakup, the prospect of picking up the phone and reconnecting will be looming overhead. But before you dial that number, be sure to take some of these points into consideration.
Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s an important part of healthy independence, especially when one finds themselves in a relationship that has the potential to cause more harm than good. Many times, a break-up is a sign that something isn’t the way it should be. It can be our healthy signal that it’s time to take a serious look at the relationship we are in and ask ourselves if it’s really worth investing more, or if God may be calling us to let go.
Some things to consider in wading through these serious and potentially life-altering questions:
Relationships ARE what they ARE. It may sound simple, but the profound yet simple truth in this statement is one that I see time and time again from brokenhearted couples who enter my office. The reality is, the building blocks that make up your relationship before you get married are the very things you can expect to see in your relationship after you say “I do” and for the rest of your lives. Personality quirks, communication styles, emotional temperaments—These are things that are built into the very fibers of who we are. Change is possible, but frankly, it’s not probable.
People have a tendency to believe that things will change as the relationship progresses. “Maybe she’ll lose her anger once she realizes how committed I am to her.” “Maybe he’ll stop flirting and pay attention to me when I am his wife.” “Maybe we will learn to talk to each other in a positive way once we are married.” Unfortunately, the likelihood of major changes is slim to none.
Marriage is like a pressure cooker. It magnifies and intensifies anything you put inside, whether the ingredients are good, bad or ugly. In fact, one thing I tell my clients who enter premarital counseling is this: Take all the things you love and all the things you dislike about this person, and then multiply them by 10. Because essentially, that is the “multiplication factor” of marriage.
Have the underlying issues been resolved? Sounds obvious, but the reality is that this is the reason why the same couples are breaking up time and time again.
Issues are not resolved just because you have said “I’m sorry.” They are not resolved with a simple “I miss you” or the promise of an “I love you.” Although these are all wonderful things to say – simply saying them does not mean it’s time to get back together.
For many couples, sweet words are enough to sweep away issues rather than taking a good hard look at the problems that need to be faced. Just because he bought you flowers doesn’t mean he’s dealt with his pornography addiction. Just because she wrote you a sweet note doesn’t mean she’s changed her priorities in life. Making up can be a wonderful thing, but only if the things that separated you have been dealt with and changed. Otherwise, you are right back on that never-ending roller coaster.
Ask yourself, “Is this relationship one that builds, encourages and edifies me?” In my personal opinion, couples who break up more than once should probably come to terms with the truth that they are not in an uplifting, encouraging and edifying relationship. A relationship that works for a lifetime is not filled with confusion, fear and doubt. A relationship that works doesn’t mingle with the drama of mistrust, criticism and infidelity. A relationship that works is not one in which you have to try and “win them back”, or one where you have to be something that you are not.
Healthy relationships by their very nature build up those who are in them, that leave you a better person at the end of the day. Healthy relationships are ones where you can say no to co-dependence because they leave room for you to be yourself. In fact, you become your BEST self. You are loved as you are. In essence, healthy relationships are those that resemble the love of Jesus, a love that was communicated through every single action.
In Scripture, 1 Corinthians 13 has been called the “love chapter.” It’s no coincidence that it gets quoted time and time again at weddings, the day a man and woman stand before God in a lifelong covenant of unity. But it would do us well to take a look at the words of this verse long before the wedding day. It would do us well to reflect on this kind of love that speaks through actions and ask ourselves if our dating relationship reflects these things. If the answer is no, it may be time to just let go.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Debra K. Fileta, M.A., LPC, is a counselor for Safe Harbor Christian Counseling at our Palmyra, PA office. Contact her at 800-305-2089.