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The End of a Relationship: What Went Wrong?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 13 Nov 2020 |
Relationship Marriage End Break Up

At the end of your relationship it’s natural to spend some time reflecting on how things went wrong and who was to blame for its failure. How people react to the end of a relationship depends on the circumstances, but there are two main ways in which a relationship can come to an end: through a slow, torturous death or a sudden shock or traumatic event that ends it.

A Slow Death or Sudden Event?

In the vast majority of cases, most relationships die a slow death through a number of factors: lack of communication, stress, boredom and not having the same dreams and aspirations. Quite often, these problems arise as a result of the person’s inability to cope with their existing stresses, either within a relationship or outside it. Examples are having an affair, becoming depressed, behaving recklessly or abusively, or having addictions to drugs or alcohol. In other cases, it can be a sudden event that changes things, such as the loss of a job, financial ruin or the death of a family member.

Coping Strategies

Sometimes, couples will stay together while being emotionally detached from one another. While this enables each partner to cope, they are harming the relationship and contributing to the slow death of their union. If the coping mechanisms that are adopted are completely ineffective, either one of two things happens: the person seeks help from elsewhere to be able to cope, or they break off the relationship.

Often when a relationship gets to breaking point, it is because both parties have got to the stage where they are so far apart that they cannot make the same observations about their relationship to find some common ground. As a result, each party blames the other and is unable to ‘own’ their share of the problems.

Moving On

Once a relationship ends, it is important to look at your own behaviour, as well as that of the other person. This will enable you to learn from your mistakes and examine how your coping strategies (or lack of them) harmed or helped your relationship. If you notice that there are recurring problems in each of your relationships, but you have no idea how to do things differently, it may be time to seek assistance. Although counselling may seem like a drastic measure, it can be extremely effective in identifying your own issues and helping you to move on for the future.

Whatever you decide, you should ensure that you don’t beat yourself up about the fact that your relationship is over. This can be extremely harmful and can lead to a prolonged loss of self-confidence as well as anxiety and depression. While you were part of a relationship, you are more than the sum total of that relationship and are still a whole, important and unique human being. When a relationship ends, you will inevitably grieve for it but should also ensure that you are kind to yourself while learning from the lessons of the past.

For more information, read The Emotional Stages After Separation and How to Change Your Life After Separation on this site.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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How have you guys got yourselves in a situation where you are struggling with child access? Hindsight is a wonderful thing but you should have set a firm boundary on 50:50 access from day 1. Reading the comments it sounds like many guys are on a hiding to nothing on trying to get anywhere near to equal coparenting. Unless you’re married 50:50 coparenting is the answer to all problems as you get equal access and remove maintenance costs do keep your own money. Can you guys go for this legally? Get it sorted. Maybe threaten to go legal so your ex knows the worst case could be that the lose majority custody and any monies paid. Could you hit them with that to broker better terms. Better still if you’re going to bankrupt yourselves and not see your kids might as well go for broke and go to court!!
Teedos - 13-Nov-20 @ 5:09 PM
I have tried to see my baby daughter st least once a week times when I ask what would be an appropriate this week one of the days I have off work it's becoming that I increasingly do not receive an answer my ex will not communicate with directly it's all done through her mother. It was most definitely my fault thing's didn't work out apologies have been frequent doesn't help. The future with my child my angle seems in dought
Yoshi - 16-Aug-15 @ 2:40 PM
@sparky1 - have you applied through court for a contact order? If not, you may want to read, When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, link here and go through the procedure listed in the article. If you don't want to pay hefty solicitor's fees, you may also find our partner article on How to Represent Yourself, link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 24-Mar-15 @ 12:36 PM
I see my children every other weekend and used to see them during the week also. My ex refuses to let me see my children and will not answer my calls when i tried to call them. My son secretly asked my female friend if she can get him a phone so he can let me know he is safe which we proceeded to do.My ex frowned upon it when she found out and took the phone off him so i'm back to square one again where i only speak to my children every other weekend. There is no communication except via text with my ex and i as she has had lied on to the police on many occasions with false accusations of violence against her.I have never been charged with anything or even been arrested before but in the past year i've been arrested 3 times. I'm 47 and my children are 5 and 7 any advice would be greatly appreciated.
sparky1 - 21-Mar-15 @ 8:13 AM
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