Deciding whether to leave a relationship is one of the most difficult and consequential choices a person can face. While there is no easy answer, there are some situations that strongly indicate it may be time to end a marriage or partnership. This article will explore three key reasons to consider leaving a relationship – chronic infidelity, substance abuse, and abuse – and provide guidance on how to navigate this challenging decision.

Three Reasons to Leave a Relationship

  1. Chronic infidelity Nearly half of the work at Couples Therapy Inc. involves affair recovery. While many affairs are isolated incidents, some couples face a destructive pattern of chronic infidelity or compulsive sexual acting out by one partner. The involved partner may be unable or unwilling to recognize how harmful their behavior has become. In some cases, there may be an underlying issue like sex addiction that requires individual support. Before considering intensive couples therapy in these situations, the involved partner should spend time in individual therapy to explore and address the drivers of their behavior. Additionally, a current, ongoing affair is a deal breaker for couples therapy – discernment counseling may be offered instead.
  2. Substance Abuse and Addiction When someone is abusing alcohol or drugs, it’s like there is a third party in the relationship. The addicted partner turns to the substance for both comfort in hard times and celebration in good times, while spending significant time and resources on the substance – all to the exclusion of their partner. Addiction treatment has advanced and can be quite effective, but the substance abuse must be addressed before the relationship issues. The addicted individual needs to first seek treatment before the couple can productively work on their relationship together.
  3. Abuse Sadly, physical and emotional abuse are more common in relationships than many realize. If there is physical abuse or domestic violence occurring, it is definitely time to leave the relationship. There is a big difference between an unhappy marriage and an abusive one. While emotional abuse may potentially be addressed by a qualified couples therapist in some cases, it’s critical to openly discuss the full situation in the initial consultation so the therapist can provide appropriate recommendations, which may include individual support and steps to leave the relationship.

Deciding Whether to Leave

It’s normal to have fleeting thoughts of separation or divorce after conflicts or hurts in a relationship. But seriously considering leaving is different. Signs that you may be in the beginning emotional stages of divorce include discussing the possibility with trusted confidants or taking active steps like setting up a separate bank account or looking for new housing.

If you or your partner are uncertain about whether to stay in the marriage, discernment counseling can be extremely valuable. This type of counseling helps couples explore whether the relationship could be improved with better communication skills or if they may find more fulfillment separately or with other partners. All the therapists at Couples Therapy Inc are trained in discernment counseling and can help you navigate the difficult decision of whether to stay and work on the marriage or initiate a separation or divorce.


Ultimately, while leaving a relationship is always painful, there are some situations where it may be the healthiest choice. Chronic infidelity, substance abuse, and physical abuse in particular are compelling reasons to end a marriage or partnership. If you are considering divorce or separation, discernment counseling with a trained professional can provide clarity and guide you through the decision-making process. Remember, you don’t have to struggle with this difficult issue alone – support and expert guidance are available.