I’ve had to watch many a relationship implode – usually mine, though if nothing else, I’ve read folks go all “emo” on their blogs after their break ups. With rare exception, the break ups didn’t happen without warning. There were storm warning sirens that probably went off that probably went unheeded. However, I want to look at the flip side of things, from the perspective of the potential breaker, for a minute to consider when should a person decide that things aren’t working out.

If you think a relationship is heading towards marriage, you have to start taking long haul considerations into account – analyzing the relationship in terms of spending the rest of your life with them. Deciding to break up isn’t easy, it’s like you have to consider the lemon rule, that point when you’ve invested enough into a car and you’d be better off buying a new one. At what point have you wasted enough time pouring yourself into the relationship? At what point have you cried enough tears over them? At what point do you realize you’d be better off (risking being) alone?

I think back on my sister’s previous relationship before she got married. I wasn’t all that impressed with him, I kept waiting for him to step to folks like a grown up, but I tried to like him. She had to make up her own mind about how much of his nonsense she was ready to put up with. For the rest of her life. She had to figure out what she couldn’t live with and a few things factored into the equation was how he dealt with:

1) Jobs. The main thing married couples fight about is money. Someone has to work and pay for everything and you can’t afford to be tied to a mooch who wants to smoke weed and play video games. Nor to someone who can’t keep a job for a week or a month or two, then quit (especially if everything is “everyone else’s fault”. Come on, you always have to answer to someone and more often than not, that someone will be a jerk. You don’t always have the luxury of popping off to them when you don’t get your way).

The only analogy I can think of is about hitching your wagon to an erratic truck. If that truck has no problems driving off a cliff to indulge whatever tantrum it wants to have, then you may want to take that into consideration. Stability is important to relationships, even moreso if you are thinking about adding kids to the equations.

2) Homebody. By “homebody” I mean living in their in mom’s basement. By homebody I mean making a home on their couch. In fact, it points to the greater problem of being directionless and unambitious. You can’t make someone find themselves, their way in life, or figure out what they want to do with their lives. Basically, you can’t make them grow up – and you shouldn’t have to. These are things a person needs to do for themselves.

3) Kids. Do they have kids that they (already) don’t take care of?

4) Drama. Some people are victims of their own bad decision making, (tacitly or not) preferring the emotional roller coaster, the constant ups and downs, of life. And they want you along for the ride. A couple years ago, I went to King’s Island. That’s when I realized “you know what? I’m a grown ass man. I don’t need the thrill of being tossed around, dropped, and twirled upside down for my excitement.” (And then I spent the day at Spongebob 3-D, but I digress).

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3

After making all due consideration, you have been gifted with common sense. You can’t stay with someone out of pity or wanting to spare their feelings. You can’t stay because your parents or their parents or your friends really like them (or the two of you as a couple). At some point, you have to take care of you – your sanity, the stability you want for you and your family.

The thing is, everyone draws lines for themselves. I can’t impose standards of what I would put up with on anyone else. My relationship with my wife has its own rhythm and considerations, and I can’t assume it would be the normative for anyone else. So draw your own lines in the sand, so that you know when you’ve reached the limits of how much of them you can accept. Better to know what’s a deal breaker, before you get to that marriage step. Once you figure out your standards and what you deserve, you need to believe it.

You don’t have to settle, especially from fear of being alone.

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