Making the Decision to Stay or Go

Every relationship, no matter how good or bad it seems, is a soul-to-soul transaction, the purpose of which is to facilitate healing, learning and growth for each other.  (It has nothing to do with “living happily ever after.”)  Therefore, as soon as we come into relationship, no matter whether the relationship lasts two minutes or twenty years, we are soul mates for each other.

But how do we gauge how long to stay in the relationship and when is it time to move on?  The debate comes down to this: has the relationship achieved its original purpose and run its course, or might there still be more good growth opportunities to be had from staying with it?

In the 1960’s when divorce started to become more acceptable, Susan Gettleman and Janet Markowitz wrote a book called, The Courage to Divorce.  It gave people ‘permission’ to make that choice if that’s what they wanted. 

The effect of this relaxing of the rules of engagement, so to speak, has been that people tend now to jump out of a marriage very quickly when things get a little difficult and, consequently, miss the opportunity to grow through the pain.  Instead of using the relationship to grow, and eventually awaken, they avoid the pain and then have to find someone else with whom to finish off the process.  That’s not to say this is wrong (there are no accidents or mistakes), but it does seem to cry out for another book entitled, The Courage NOT to Divorce.  Such a book would speak to the above dilemma and would at least suggest that people should ask themselves that question.

But, to be honest, the way the question is framed makes it unanswerable.  How could we know what Spirit has in store for us in this relationship in the future?  And how would we know what would follow if we left?  We just don’t know.  But as we have indicated, one of the advantages of being awake and being in alignment with the new paradigm is that we don’t have to know these things.  Trying to figure it out is a waste of time.  If we trust and surrender to the process and stay alive to our guidance from our Spiritual Intelligence, we will be shown what to do.  And if we seem to make a mistake, that will be perfect too. 

Having the spiritual awareness of how our current relationship might give us the opportunity to expand in Love in a way that would raise our consciousness, we might think twice before we abandon it.  If we left and had to start all over again, the awakening could take a lot longer.  After all, it is very unwise to begin a new relationship within a year or two of leaving the last one since you are likely to take a lot of the old energy of the last one into the new one.  And that would add a lot of confusion. 

The real answer, then, to this dilemma is simple.  Stop trying to figure it out.  Exercise trust and surrender by doing the worksheets.  Your Spiritual Intelligence will take care of the details.  When you do the work and find that kind of calm space, I can assure you, clarity about what to do next will come to you.

Using a therapist can help, but please avoid any that are still using the medical model embedded in the old paradigm.  Use a Tipping Coach who is trained in Radical Forgiveness Therapy.  To find one, click here.

When you have reached a place of peace through doing this process and have decided that you wish to continue with the relationship and have the intention to use it as a way to expand in Love, you can now begin to begin to converse with your partner about how this can be achieved.

Of course, it would be nice to have someone as a partner who is of the same mind as you, but it would not necessarily cause you to expand in Love.  Someone who ridicules your way of thinking or attacks your beliefs offers a much more challenging proposition than someone who agrees with you. It would force you to expand in Love in order to come to a place of unconditional acceptance of him or her, no matter how strong the attack and how different his or her belief system may be.  The way to cope with this scenario and get the best out of it, is to do a Radical Acceptance Worksheet and then continue working on yourself, while recognizing that no matter where your partner is in terms of consciousness, he/she is exactly where he/she is meant to be.  And so are you.

None of what I have said up to now precludes you from leaving the relationship if that seems the sensible thing to do.  No one is suggesting you stay in the relationship if it is abusive, toxic or in any other way intolerable.  Since this work is all about energy, which is not subject to the limitations of time and space, there is nothing of this work that can’t be done while at a distance.  So, if the conditions are such that to maintain your physical presence in the relationship is simply too much to bear and you feel you need to separate from your partner, be assured that the power of doing the work is not in any way diminished.  

Whether you separate or stay together, your relationship remains a soul-to-soul transaction, and an opportunity to expand in Love. 



 PS. Remember, this month, members of the Radical Living Association received powerful new tools to create love and build relationships. Would you like to:

  • Discover new ways to assess and improve your relationship with the Relationship Assessment Questionnaire
  • Bridge a painful gap in your relationship with Radical Reconciliation
  • Get a new relationship off to a well-grounded start with I Am Ready for a New Committed Relationship
  • Bring clarity and liberation into your relationship with the “Boundaries” Worksheet

If so, bring these transformations and more into your life by joining the Radical Living Association. 

7 thoughts on “Making the Decision to Stay or Go


    Dear Colin,
    Thank you for a thoughtful, gentle take on this important question of whether to leave a relationship or stay. Your acceptance of all possibilities creates a space in which we can let go of our dilemmas for a moment and let things be. From this place of acceptance we are better able to listen to guidance and make our decision. Thank you for the reminder that there is perfection in all things. And, as always, for sharing the work of forgiveness.
    With Love to all, Katherine

  2. Marja Duran

    Thank you, Colin, for writing about this love expansion through our relationships. For twenty years I’ve been in a relationship that has not been fun. My husband is a very good person, not abusive in the least, but he is pretty much the opposite of what I had in mind for a husband. I was aware of all of this at the time of our marriage and yet felt very strongly led to enter it. The love expansion through our relationship has been incredible. I am a completely renewed person compared to 20 years ago and my husband has grown a lot, too. I don’t have to tell you that the past 20 years have also been extremely difficult and it has taken lots and lots of courage for us both to stay in this marriage. I believe that having two kids has sometimes been the glue that has held us together. My childhood was an extreme one marked by a total lack of acceptance, affection and attention and my husband experienced some pretty hard stuff, too. For a rational mind our marriage would seem like crazy one. But it has worked! I cannot relate to people who marry because they are in love with their spouses since I never have experienced that but I sure have learned respect. Because that is what all human relationships come down to: respect. When there are no wonderful emotions and you have a lack of understanding of each other there can still be respect. And through respect mutually given year after year slowly also love developes. But the most important ingredient in this relationship has been honesty. Total honesty concerning our inner problems and feelings.

    I’m grateful that I have stayed in our relationship and I’m looking forward to lots more adventures to come!

  3. Wendy

    I am going to print this and carry it with me so I can just hand it out anytime someone asks me why I am still with my husband. This is EXACTLY why. We have been through a lot of turmoil, and if it hadn’t been for that turmoil, I would not have experienced such mind-blowing personal growth. I wouldn’t even resemble the person I am now. 6 years ago I was 70lb overweight, miserable in my marriage, miserable in my job, miserable with myself and had no children. The only bright spot in my life was my dog. Today I love who I am. I love my job. I love my life, my husband, and our beautiful son. I wouldn’t be here without the struggle.

    One thing I have realized is the times when I feel like leaving are the times when I am not connected to myself. When I am in a bad place to begin with and we have a conflict, then I start hearing what everyone else is saying. When I am in a good place with myself I realize my husband is the reason I am who I am today and we still have some growing to do. (Just to be clear – there is no abuse. He had an affair and is currently unemployed. My family and friends see him as an opportunistic, selfish bum. I see him as my partner, the father of my son, and the person who has caused me to awaken.)

    I owe a lot of this growth to you and the radical forgiveness process. What you wrote here is absolutely perfect, and just the reminder I need to keep with me. Bless you, Colin!

  4. forrest walters

    Why, from his own point of view, and apart from general humanitarian considerations, should anyone care what happens in future incarnations, since, if I understand correctly, those are different personalities?

  5. Eric

    Thanks for the relationship insights! I just met someone recently and we have already had some issues come up that could have caused me to break it off. However I realized that what seemed to be her issue is also mine. She is reflecting me at a deep level. I have decided to continue exploring our relationship and see what comes up.

    And I also realized that the relationship that I left a few years ago COULD have been healed had I been more conscious and more aware of radical forgiveness.

    Thanks from my heart

  6. madhurima malladeb

    what do we do when abuse and affection get intricately intertwined in a relationship and the heart is not willing to quit though there is physical safety at risk???

  7. Deb Odonnell

    I found this article confusing. Or perhaps I was looking for vindication for my divorce. I believe I don’t want to even consider the possibility that the marriage could have succeeded. Ten years later, despite repeated infidelity, lies and manipulation on his part, I feel that maybe I did not try hard enough. I think the reality is though that the relationship was on such a downward spiral, that it was nearly impossible for me to find anything to be positive about. I kept bringing more and more negativity and respected him less and less. The end was unavoidable. Perhaps it is myself I need to forgive most of all.

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