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Can a relationship survive an ultimatum?

(8 Posts)
CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 04-Mar-14 18:50:09

Because I used to think all was lost before you got to that stage, but now I'm not sure.

A friend and her partner have been together years. They've lived together for longer than I've known her, so five years plus. They are perfect together.

She's been signed off for months, with work stress. He did everything he could to help, but it did change her a bit. It's to be expected, I guess.

Anyway, they cracked a bit. He said he was worried, and maybe they should live apart and go back to staying at each others places, so that they could have fun together rather than dealing with all the stress and mundane Ness that living together brings. He said he loved her and didn't want anyone else, but that moving closer to her new job may not be a bad thing. He can't move for work related reasons.

She said no. She said it was all or nothing, that she didn't want to be with someone who didn't love her. He was upset at the thought of losing her. They had an emotional chat and he said he felt underappreciated.

All seems okay now. Neither want to leave. She thinks there is an insecurity that hadn't been there for a while though, and she asked if I thought it was ruined now.

Any thoughts? I really want to tell her that it'll be okay, but I can't work it out.

MadBusLady Tue 04-Mar-14 19:02:57

Do you think she is telling you the full story?

Unless you know him to be a bit of a flake in general, I would say he's not fully committed and a low patch was enough to bring that out. He was trying to bring about a slow unpicking of the relationship (maybe partly subconsciously), but bottled it when she called him on it. All this especially likely if they are youngish/don't have DC.

If that reading is correct, her ultimatum may have actually bought her time, but whether it's time worth having before the inevitable I don't know.

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 04-Mar-14 19:09:01

No, I might not know everything. We're close, but you can see how hurt she is when she talks about it.

He's lovely. I've known him for almost the whole time Ivr known her, and he seems wonderful. He'd do anything for her. Drives her to and from work, cooks for her, does all the housework, buys her things. He couldn't look after her more.

She was pretty ungrateful during the bad period. For everything, not just him. She was like a different person and they argued a lot, which is unheard of for them.

I so want to tell her that it can be saved, but I don't know.

She said today that she told him last week that she wished she had walked away before if that's how he felt. He looked broken and said he'd leave if she wanted, but he loved her.

I don't know. I really feel for them both, though.

MadBusLady Tue 04-Mar-14 19:27:36

Tricky, I don't think you can reassure her in the way she probably wants. It's within their power to weather this whole period together or not. You can't give her better information about this process than he can.

I am interested in why she has fixated on the question "have I ruined this by giving him an ultimatum". That's not really how relationships work IME - it sounds more like what someone would say about someone they were dating casually. If somebody is seriously committed they are not going to think "actually I'll chuck this one back in" just because the other person takes a certain line through some relationship difficulties. If she thinks she somehow made things more high-stakes by going on to this forbidden ground then I think you can at least reassure her that's not really possible. What she may have done (and this is less reassuring) is expose a problem that was already there.

The relationship does sound a bit unbalanced TBH even without her bad patch - they both work but he does everything? If he does it in expectation of ill-defined cosmic rewards/brownie points then I guess it would be pretty upsetting if she suddenly stopped showing any gratitude for it.

I'm afraid I'm still getting passive-aggressive relationship dismantling vibes off this as well:

He looked broken and said he'd leave if she wanted, but he loved her.

Where's his fight?

sykadelic15 Tue 04-Mar-14 19:43:23

Telling her he wants to live apart was probably his way of trying to slowly break up with her without the drama.

No sorry. This particular ultimatum shows how unhappy he is with the situation but he doesn't want it to end badly, which he probably feels it would if he just up and left (which is what he probably wants to do).

LondonForTheWeekend Tue 04-Mar-14 19:51:40

Do you think she has much/any insight to her behaviour these past few months?

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 04-Mar-14 20:00:40

I think she does now. I don't think she did then.

I'm not sure if it's relevant, but she can't drive because she's disabled. She loses energy quickly, so had to do things in stages. She worked from home for all of their relationship until now, this is her first out-of--home job, and it broke her a bit. She's always earned more so I think she feels that because she contributes financially, that eased the unfairness.

A break up would be messy. She's very close to his parents, they share a house and a car, they share all ffurniture, pets and debt.

I don't know. If he wanted to leave her, he could have just done it when they had the chat? He was already somewhere he could stay, and it'd be done then. He came home and they talked. I really want them to have worked it out.

BertieBotts Tue 04-Mar-14 20:03:37

I suppose it depends. If it's come about because both people have different underlying values and what one thinks is perfectly fine the other does not, then the ultimatum is actually asking someone to change one of their core values for the sake of the relationship, and I think it highlights that it's wrong.

But if it's more that one person has been coasting along in a dreamworld, perhaps they always sort of plan to be better, later, and are always waiting for something to happen rather than doing something, then it could be a wake up call.

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