As a marriage counselor, I often counsel with couples where one has at least one foot out the door, and the other is desperately trying to stop them from leaving. This scenario is very common. In most of these situations, the individual trying to save the marriage or relationship usually makes major mistakes that produces the opposite results of what they are hoping for.
Imagine for a moment you have a giant bowl of jello in front of you. Now imagine trying to reach into the bowl with your bare hands with the intent to eat some. What is the best way to do this? You will need to cup your hands and scoop it up gently. If you do it any other way, the jello will slip right through your fingers, and very little will actually make it to your mouth. Imagine scooping it up, then suddenly squeezing the jello as hard as you can, most if not all will again slip through your fingers. Your hands will be emptied of the jello.
People are like this jello. In our relationships, we need to remember to hold onto them gently. If we squeeze too hard, they will slip through our fingers. The harder to you try to hold on to someone, the more we push them away.
Let me give you another example that may be a bit gruesome. Several years ago, I knew a little boy and girl who were 6 and 4 years old at the time. Their parents thought it would be a great idea to give them a pair of baby rabbits for Christmas. Both rabbits were dead within a week. Why? The children loved the rabbits to death, literally. They carried and held the rabbits 24/7 and squeezed them until they killed them.
There is a such thing as loving someone too much. Person A loves person B so much, that they have put their whole identity into the relationship. Person B likes and needs to maintain some of their individuality. Person B starts to feel suffocated, and tries to get back some of their independence. Person A panics, because they are losing their identity. The smothering then gets worse. They may start throwing out guilt trips, or become over the top jealous of everything and anything. They may cry, beg, and grovel which is not attractive to anyone. In some cases, person A becomes abusive. These behaviors smother and kill the relationship like the rabbits in the story above.
If you are person A, I understand you are searching for answers. Losing someone you are romantically involved with is not easy. If you want to win back the heart of the one you love, don’t squeeze too hard. Don’t let your desperate attempts to salvage the relationship actually finish it off. Find a way to build your own self-confidence. If you can’t do that on your own, find someone to talk to. Don’t talk to the person’s family or friends. Talk to a counselor, pastor, or your own friends whom you can trust to keep you grounded.
Don’t grovel, don’t beg, and don’t try to restrict the freedom of the one trying to leave. In some cases, the best course of action is to say, “I love you, but I will honor your desire to leave.” Then leave them alone. Don’t call, don’t text, keep the ball in their court. If they leave, you have at least held on to your own dignity and self-worth. However, by giving them a doorway out you have now given them the freedom to love you rather than being forced to love you. No one likes to be forced to do anything.
If you are married, and your spouse wants to leave, the same principle applies. Sure, fight for your marriage, but not in a way that makes them feel trapped. How do you do that? Well, that’s a loaded question. Find a counselor or pastor to talk to. You are also welcome to call me or shoot me an email about your specific situation.
Look me up at http://www.championfamiliesministries.com. You will find my contact information there. Feel free to reach out. I’m here to help.