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I had lunch with a friend today and was very surprised when she told me her and her husband weren’t sure how much longer they were going to be together. These guys will have been together ten years next month. We only saw them last week and things seemed fine.

I know you never know what goes on behind closed doors but I felt like I knew them as a couple (they’re some of my closest friends) and hearing this news really shook me (all about me, I know). Long story short, they’ve lost their spark. They love each other, are the greatest of friends but are no longer ‘in love’ with each other, romantic/sexual love, that is. She said they were like flatmates now. They were trying to see if they could salvage things or if they just needed to let it go.

I can only imagine how scary this would be after ten years of being with someone. My friend is in her mid-late thirties and they’d been trying to fall pregnant so, of course, that whole ‘will I find someone else?’ mindset comes into play. As someone who doesn’t think they want kids, I don’t necessarily understand the maternal fear but I can definitely understand not wanting to be alone and not wanting to let go of something just in case it gets better. I believe every relationship goes through cycles of being really in love and not so in love (but still enough in love that it doesn’t jeopardise the relationship). It’s how you deal with these down cycles that determine how long the relationship lasts.

Maybe two or three years into our relationship, my partner got promoted to a management role at a hot new bar. At the time, I worked 9 – 5 and he worked nights and all weekend so we didn’t even have one day together all week, unless one of us requested annual leave. He was rarely available to do any social things with our friends, I’d have to do them alone, if I wanted to. If I wanted to see him, I usually had to go to where he worked and the little time we did have together, he was usually super tired and didn’t want to do much. Resentment quickly built to the point where I started thinking, ‘what’s the point of having a boyfriend I never see?’

We were pretty close to breaking up but, thankfully, we didn’t. We spoke about it. We got through it. He was eventually able to ask his managers to give him better hours and things improved. In our case, we were still in love and wanted to be together but external forces were making things difficult. As a couple, I think you can get through anything if you still feel love for that person, if you can see why you want to be with them and why you loved them in the first place. If you can see a future for yourself and the obstacles aren’t too great to overcome.

We were lucky we were able to get through our tough time. I hope my friend is able to do the same, if that’s what they want. But I also think it’s just as much a right decision to make the call to end things, if it’s not salvageable. If you’re miserable and there’s no way out, you owe it to yourself to leave. It’s going to be tough. You’re going to be heartbroken; no matter what state your relationship was in at the end, that person was a huge part of your life. You’re going to worry that you made the wrong decision. But all of these fears are better than waiting another 5 or 10 years and coming to the same decision.

I love my friend and I love her husband and I will support them no matter what decision they make. Yes, it makes me so sad to think of them not being together but, as much as that thought upsets me, the thought of them not being happy and staying together is worse. They are both wonderful people and they’ll be able to find other people to make them happy, if it comes to that.

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Image credit: Ink361 and Firstcovers

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