When Love Isn't Enough to Overcome the Rift Illness Created in Your Relationship

What do you do when love isn’t enough? When you adore each other, but over time an undeniable rift has formed between you? For us, that rift has been my illness. The illness that has taken away my ability to do, to think clearly, to be a full part of the world.

We’ve stuck it out for years, whether through love, hope, fear, obligation or a combination of all those things, but over time we’ve each become more and more dissatisfied. We’re best friends, we love each other more than anything, and that’s what makes it so hard to decide to make a change.

Over the years it’s taken several difficult conversations, a short trial separation, and eventually couples therapy to take us to the point where we can see that nothing will improve if things remain as they are. What we each need right now is so different that staying the same will lead to bitterness and resentment.

We made the decision this week to do a “boundaried” separation. A proper split of three months that means not living together, not seeing each other and not talking to each other. It seems so impossible to me. How can I cope with not seeing the one person who can make me happy, who can bring light, hope and comfort to, what sometimes feels, the hopeless and uncomfortable life I’ve ended up with? I’m heartbroken, I’m desperately afraid and I really want to just say we won’t do it and keep things the same. But I also want him to find a way to be happy. I don’t want to be the reason he’s miserable. I want him to choose me because he wants me, not because he’s too loving and kind to leave me when I’m so in need. I know this is the right route to take, but it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and I think it is for him too.

I’m in a place where I want to hope that the break will bring us closer together, but I also want to prepare myself for the possibility that it might not. That makes it hard to know what thoughts to entertain. Do I encourage the hopeful thoughts at the risk of being bitterly disappointed? Or do I prepare for the worst and feel utterly miserable? I know what I need to do is try to let go, and accept things as they come, but it’s so hard for me as someone who always needs to be prepared.

I’m terrified that I won’t be able to manage on my own: physically, financially and emotionally. I need help with my daily living needs, but I know I couldn’t live with anyone else, as I’m very sensitive to noise, stimulation and stress. But I’m really concerned that the isolation will be too much for me. I’m not able to go out much, and hardly at all without help from others, so it’s likely I won’t see anyone for days, possibly weeks. I’m a social person, and the idea of being alone so much is frightening, especially as I’ll be grieving the relationship.

We’re always told that love is the most important thing, that love conquers all, but I’m learning that it doesn’t. When one or more person’s needs aren’t being met, love won’t stop them becoming unhappy. Love won’t stop it intruding into the relationship. Love matters, but so do our needs, and we have to make sure our needs are being met.

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