There is no such thing as an intimate relationship that’s completely free of difficulties and problems. When two people share life together there will, at least occasionally, be friction just on account of their basic differences. So long as there is willingness on the parts of both partners to work on the relationship, they can survive the conflicts that arise. But at what point does it become obvious that the struggles within a relationship outweigh any and all of its good points? When is it wisest to just let it go and not try to salvage it any longer?
A relationship has become untenable when the people involved are no longer willing to work through their issues or to commit to growing together. If even one partner gives up on the work involved, there’s really no way to move forward. That doesn’t mean that all relationships that come to that sort of stuck place necessarily end, though. Sometimes people just soldier on together after their communication has broken down and they no longer share a vision. But it would be healthier for both people involved if they knew to throw in the towel at this point.
Sometimes two people may be engaged in working to support each other and uphold their partnership, but the same issues keep coming up again and again. This is another dead-end road, even though there still may be a lot of love between them. The problem is that they’re just in over their heads. Neither of them have the tools or the clarity to process the emotional and practical difficulties that arise in their shared life together. There’s no way to keep moving forward. The same disturbances keep undermining the joy of the relationship, and they are never resolved.
A successful relationship demands that both people involved take personal responsibility for their part in any problems that arise. Another way that the situation can become untenable, then, is when one partner cannot or will not see the harm that he or she is causing. One example of this is alcoholics who are oblivious to how abusive they can get when they’re drinking. A problem that is not acknowledged can never be solved. The other person in an equation like this will, sooner or later, be left with no choice but to abandon the hopeless situation.
The most obvious kind of untenable relationship is one that has become (or always was) verbally and/ or physically abusive. There’s no constructive direction to go in such a situation except for the person on the receiving end of the abuse (particularly when it’s physical) to get out. Those who can’t find the inner resources to leave on their own should seek help in doing so. This kind of relationship can’t be redeemed by all the love and effort in the world.