Relationships: Knowing when to walk away

Monica married her best friend five years ago. Before her marriage, she had encountered two failed relationships that left her shattered, but when she finally met her husband, she knew she had ‘met the one’. She vowed to be the best version of herself and build a lasting union. 

A few years down the road, however, her marriage started reflecting her past relationships. She felt insecure, unloved and her husband was no longer the caring and respectful man he was.


This, she says, was somehow bearable, but when her husband started drinking and sleeping in bars, Monica knew little was left to salvage her marriage, she later made a decision to end it. 



Challenge comes in knowing when the relationship is no longer working. Net photos

Too often when a couple starts dating, they envision happiness that will last forever, but life happens and this doesn’t necessarily materialise. However, the biggest challenge comes in knowing when the relationship is no longer working, or worse, when to choose to walk away.

Counsellor Shadia Nansasi says that when someone is in love, it’s hard to make a decision to leave their significant other. This, she says, is respectable because it is a sign of commitment, however, it is also important to take note of the actual status of the relationship and make a decision that is based off cautious analysis.

Wanting to make a relationship work is good and admirable, however, insisting to make it work when the other partner is not interested can eventually turn it into a toxic relationship, she says.

“Your partner may use that as a chance to disrespect you, take you for granted, and this can result into emotional scars. This is why, regardless of how hard it can be, when a marriage fails irrespective of how much effort you put in, it is always better to leave with dignity,” she adds. 

The counsellor points out that in a relationship, when you’re scared to ask for more from your partner yet your needs aren’t being met, if you feel obligated to stay with your partner, taken for granted, feel disrespected or worse, if your partner is abusive, then these are clear signs that it’s time to consider ending a relationship.

Failure is part of life 

Counsellor Damien Mouzoun believes failure is still part of life itself, and encourages families to really do their very best in order to solve their differences as couples for the wellbeing of their children.

“Working to salvage a marriage is vital especially in consideration with our African values, but in case the relationship is perilous on one side or the other, it should be okay to realistically move on and restart from elsewhere in this modern world,” he says.

Mouzoun observes that some of the problems that lead to break-ups are mostly caused by the youth today who are so concerned about marriage.

With guidance, however, the counsellor believes a number of couples can work towards making their relationships a success.

He shares tips from one of his mentors called Tim Kreutter, who just celebrated 40 years of marriage.

Try to marry your best friend

When single, focus now on finding and making good male or female friends at this stage of your life. Don’t let romantic, financial or sexual fantasies, drive your quest. Focus purely on learning how to build quality friendships right now as much as possible–even if it’s with guys or girls who do not really “excite you” - for the usual reasons. In terms of finances, they should be hardworking and wise with money, as that is a reflection of character, but don’t just focus on how much they have at the moment.

Focus on inner self 

Forget this idea that if I make myself beautiful enough (right make-up, right hair, right clothes and right pics on social media) I will attract a good man or woman. Yes, you might attract men or women, but what is all that he is being attracted with? Mostly superficial stuff. And what does it say about a man who can be seduced by all that? It shows someone who is fairly shallow. Those things are fine – but they are secondary.

If you attract a man or a woman because he sees your character, personality, heart and soul – then you will attract him with things that will endure over the years. (Yes, looking good by taking care of your body and maintaining a good figure is also part of this discussion – because that has more to do with character as it takes real self-discipline and reflects self-esteem).

Be pro-active, don’t wait for a man to find you

That was purely a past cultural thing and has no real spiritual basis. Be as pro-active in finding the right man as you would be in finding a good job or studying for a first-class degree, or starting a profitable business. You should be in charge of pursuing what is most important to you in life.

Waiting to be seen and found will likely mean you will be pursued by aggressive guys. Yet the best guys, who make the best long-term partners – will often be a bit shy, they will not be these big egos that are full of themselves, thinking they can get any woman they want.


Be ready to dedicate your life and your future partnership to something bigger than “me and us.”

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