When is Enough, Enough

I asked this question in a therapy session, but didn’t get the answer I wanted.  I asked friends and family, but they advised “enough” had been the first red flag during the dating process.  Truth is, no one can truly tell you when enough is enough.  Only you know your limits and when that final button has been pushed that will cause you to make a change…to either correct negative behavior or to walk away from the drama.   In other words, enough begins with you.

First, think about or write down your breaking points, pet peaves, or limits 

Everything is easier said than done.  If life were that simple, there would probably be no reason to even ask “is this enough?”  In my own personal experience, I tend to be too forgiving and too flaky.  I switch back and forth on how I want to handle tough situations.  Even worse, I continually forgive knowing that I’m going to get hurt again.  As I mentioned, during my counseling session, I was advised that enough “was never really enough, but you have to forgive the person as many times as needed.”  Of course, I didn’t like that answer, but when given spiritual advice, we never really want to accept the answers given.  So as I’m sitting in this session listening to how I should forgive, I’m still thinking, but “when is enough enough?”  How many times do I forgive him if he lies?  How many times do I forgive him if he cheats or covers up his cheating?  How many times do I allow myself to be hurt?  Perhaps I was looking for a definitive response so I could contact a lawyer and get a divorce.  It’s not that I wanted to end my marriage, but I was tired of being tired of being tired.  I dreamed of having affairs myself, but in my own “dream affair” all we did was talk or hang out like old friends.  That let me know I lacked the intimacy and friendship that I needed in my own marriage.  When dreaming felt better than being awake, I knew I had reached my own breaking point.

Second, discuss those limits with your mate

If you cannot talk to your mate without having an argument or they talk over you, think about adding that to step one.  Communication is the key.  What you say is important, and HOW you say it eases the blow.  Proverbs 15:1 says that a soft answer turns away wrath.  If you talked to your mate about a particular heated topic and had  valid points, but the way you came across was rude, tactless, or mentally damaging, then your valid points just got thrown out the window.  I tell my husband all the time that WHAT you say is usually something I can agree with, but HOW you come across kills the entire message.  If you’re trying to get your mate to understand your points of view, then watch the tone and inflection in your voice and even pay attention to the sarcasm behind the tone.  In tough negotiations in a hostage situation, in most cases you see that the negotiator is using a friendly tone and friendly approach to understand and change that negative situation into a more positive result.  Obviously the goal is to ensure that the hostages are not hurt, so HOW that negotiator handles the deal is important.  We tell our kids all the time to use their words or if they don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.  Those rules can be applied in adult situations just as easily as they can be applied in childhood.

Third, make a decision and stick with it

Don’t flake out.  Don’t keep changing your mind depending on their moods, the right situations, the timing, etc.  Stand firm on your decisions.  One thing is certain, whatever decision you make you may dread or you may be relieved.  You may feel a sharp pain in your heart or your eyes may water or you’ll get an extreme headache, especially if you make a decision that causes heartbreak.  You may even make a decision that has the opposite effect allowing you to get closer to your mate, and falling in love all over again.  We hope for the latter, but for the sake of your own emotional health, make a decision that allows you to breathe freely without anxiety, fear, and regret.

Enough is enough when YOU make the call.

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2 responses to “When is Enough, Enough”

  1. Kim Avatar

    Might I suggest the traits people find unbearable have always been present in the relationship? We women like that little spark of ‘bad boy’ in our men but once we’re married it becomes an issue. Why not examine the traits closely in your potential mate before making things permanent?

  2. Emily Avatar

    I think writing things down is a good idea. It helps you stick to a plan. To me, enough would be enough when the cons of the relationship outnumbered the pros. That might be a simplified way to put it but we all know the qualities that drew us into the relationship. When those start to dissipate and the relationship becomes dysfunctional, it’s time to go.

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