“I know this marriage is over but I won’t leave, I can’t bring myself to do it.” This is a narrative many women and men live with, in what they hoped would be a lifelong loving relationship. It’s the core storyline that makes the couple or one partner within it hold on in the midst of oppressive love. 

To be clear, the oppression I’m referring to is not abuse (physical, psychological or neglect) as abuse warrants a totally different discussion. What I’m talking about is dysfunctional unhealthy love in which two people get stuck in problematic cycles that slowly wipe love away. 

Oppressive love looks like the unresolved pain of betrayal from an infidelity or multiple ones, massive communication breakdowns, bitterness from persistent conflict or feelings of contempt that border on hatred and very likely signal the end. 

When things get this bad and nothing is done to stop the snowball, it’s like a venom that slowly poisons the relationship and diminishes any admiration, respect or positive feelings that remain.

Why don’t couples just stop and face their fiercest obstacle – the way they participate in this dysfunctional dance?

It might seem trivial, but oftentimes people refuse to see that what they hoped for and what is actually happening aren’t matching. The default response then is to hope things change rather than face the truth.

The truth that he’s never been in love with me because I chose to see what wasn’t there; that she’s not a kind person after all; that he really won’t stop cheating and I’m the one who must trust his actions rather than the lies that he’ll change.

The solution lies in facing your truth and taking actions to break the cycle. Two things usually spark this. One is being forced into action by external forces like the cheating partner leaving first or reaching rock bottom when you’re tired and using that as the  motivation to change yourself and by extension the relationship.

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