Some couples stay in unfulfilling relationships and marriages out of loyalty, commitment or even fear of being alone and starting over. They are half-in and half-out of their relationship and this limbo state is so painful, emotionally exhausting and completely unfair to both partners.

Spouses can sense the uncertainty and the lack of being ‘all in’ and that is anxiety provoking and hurtful.

Here is my 5 step process for getting clear about what to do in a situation like this called: Determining Deal-Breakers.

1. List your gripes, disappointments or complaints- what are you so unhappy about in your marriage
2. What would you like to have in a marriage and a partner? Maybe you are getting what you need and want and the complaints are trivial but you are caught up in noticing them.
3. Is what you are missing and complaining about a ‘deal-breaker’ issue
4. If not deal-breaker issues- identify what specifically needs to change in your marriage and be ALL IN and do the work. (get over your complaints)
5. If they are deal breaker issues- figure out your exit strategy.

Most people when they decide to be all in or to leave feel extreme relief- like pulling a thorn out of your side.

Marriage is a lot of work and takes effort every day. Don’t leave one marriage over something that is not a deal-breaker only to find yourself in a new relationship with similar minor irritations.

Leaving a long term relationship is so so hard and very sad, even when it is the right decision.

Having one foot in- and one foot out of a relationship is excruciating and both partners deserve better so if this is you, please go through these steps and consciously make a decision so you can both feel more settled and perhaps even find love again.

Hilary Silver, LCSW is a marriage therapist and relationship counselor in Denver, CO, and the creator of Hot, Healthy & Happily Ever After. She specializes in helping men, women and couples learn the secrets of keeping the love and passion alive for the long- term. Visit for more information!

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