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I’m often asked when to pull the plug on a failing relationship. When is there hope and when is it really over?

Logic dictates that we should map out a course of action and prepare for (what may be) the inevitable. And though clients want me to give them this answer, they’re the only one’s who know when it’s really over for them.

I recently got a letter from a woman who wants to save her marriage. She’s taken every step possible to correct the issues that created her husband’s discontent. She’s in therapy and actively working on the behavior that caused her husband’s desire to leave.

If I were in her shoes, I’d want to know I’d done everything possible on my end to correct the problems at hand before I called it quits. I’d need to know that I had done all that I could to remedy my behavior and actions in order to give the relationship a fair shot before I pulled the plug. Jumping the gun to divorce him first may seem a power-based act, but it’s against her inner wishes.

Certainly, there should be a time frame set for how long she continues to live in hope. I’ve seen people hang onto the hope of a lover’s return for years. In the process, they quit living their lives. They wait. They suffer. They remain frozen in time as life passes them by.

Moving forward is always a good choice. Moving forward is an inner action long before it ever materializes in an outer action. Any corrective work we do on ourselves to preserve a partnership is ultimately our’s to keep regardless of the outcome. Self-improvement and greater interpersonal skills can never work against us and only be to our edification with our current partner or one in our future.

So, when is it really over?

It’s really over when neither party has the interest or energy to pursue a reconnection. It’s really over when one person has moved out, moved on, and is living with (or has married) someone new. It’s really over if years of waiting haven’t brought your partner back and the stasis of your life has left you immobilized and depleted.

There’s hope if the couple is still in contact and willing to speak about reconciliation. There’s hope if both parties are willing to correct the issues at hand that caused the split. And, there’s hope if the offending party is actively working on changing their behavior and making tangible strides in becoming a new and improved version of a partner.

It takes two people to make a relationship work and two people to make a relationship last. But it only takes one person to make a significant change that can dramatically alter the entire composition of a relationship.

No matter the problem or circumstance, in the end it’s all about us. We have command over ourselves. We have control over our behavior. We can improve upon who we were and become the better version of ourselves. In that, we’ve created a greater chance of keeping love alive whether it’s with our existing partner, or someone new.