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Susie and Otto Collins'
Love and Relationships Tips Article

Relationship Advice: "Help! I'm Trapped In a Relationship I Don't Want to Be In!"
By Susie and Otto Collins

When you and your partner seem to be wanting the absolute opposite things in life, what do you do?

When it feels like you and your mate are constantly at odds and conflict abounds, is it automatically time to leave the relationship?

What if it seems clear to you that this relationship is not what you want and this person you are with is not the same one you fell in love with years ago but you can't seem to end the relationship?

There are many situations that can develop in the course of a love relationship or marriage where the degree of dissatisfaction and unhappiness are so intense you are inwardly pulled to make a drastic change and possibly leave the relationship.

The only problem feel trapped. Walking away from your partner or making a significant change, for whatever reason, appear to be blocked options.

It could be that you and your partner have children together and you are unwilling to put them through what you think would be the trauma of a divorce or breakup between their parents.

It might also be that for financial reasons, leaving this relationship appears to be
impossible. You might feel trapped because, due to insecurities or other beliefs, you are under the impression that this is your only chance at love.

There are plenty of reasons why you might feel trapped in your current unhappy relationship. We aren't going try to list them all off or address them individually.

What we will do is offer you advice so that you can get unstuck and stop feeling trapped where you are.

Phil can't remember the last time he and Sherrie had a pleasant conversation together. All they seem to do lately is bicker and fight-- and it's been this way for quite awhile.

The main source of conflict between Phil and Sherrie stems from her desire to get married and have children with him. Phil feels like he has always made it clear to Sherrie that he does not believe in marriage and does not want to be a father.

Sherrie, on the other hand, thought that Phil's anti-marriage position was due to his young age when they began dating. At that time, it made sense to both of them not to marry or start a family.

Sherrie assumed that Phil left the door open for both of these when he got
older. Unfortunately, this has not proved to be the case. Phil is just as staunchly anti-marriage and anti-fatherhood as he was when they first met. And now Sherrie feels that she will not be happy unless she a married mother.

Both Sherrie and Phil feel trapped in this situation and their relationship. They love each other very much but neither is happy with the direction the other wants to go.

What is your priority?
If you feel like you have no choices in your relationship, it can be helpful to take a step back and look at your priorities.

Move away from assumptions about what you think your partner wants-- or even from what he or she is saying. Focus in on what you want most at this time.

Set aside all of the reasons why you feel trapped and any factors that you believe might be standing in your way.

For the moment, get very clear about what your priority is. It might be more than one thing. The essential exercise for you is to know what is most important to you.

When Sherrie reaches into herself to discover what her priority is, she realizes that she wants to be a mother. She would prefer to be married and she would like to stay with Phil. But, ultimately, Sherrie wants to experience motherhood in her lifetime.

It is bittersweet for Sherrie to hone in on this priority. She does not want to lose Phil. In fact, she worries that she'll never find another man who makes her laugh and feel beautiful the way he does (or the way he used to).

At the same time, it is undeniable to Sherrie that having a baby is most important. She still feels trapped and in an impossible 'either/or' situation. But it is some relief to no longer be so confused and indecisive.

Communicate with openness and confidence.
Take that feeling of clarity and honesty and combine it with openness as you communicate with your partner. If you can feel less trapped as you identify that you do have options and your priorities are important, that will help immensely.

We do not advise you to set an ultimatum before your partner. If you are truly ready to end the relationship, then make it plain that this is your intention and the reasons why.

If you would like to see if you and your mate can find a way for both of you to have your needs met while staying together, communicate that intention to him or her. Talk about what you have realized about your own priorities and desires and then listen to what your partner has to say.

You might find that you two aren't as diametrically opposed on this particular topic as you thought you were. Or, you could see that you are absolutely not in agreement about this issue; but it might be something that you two choose to stay together and work on.

Do whatever you can to learn from one another and create space for connections to happen while maintaining your own priorities.

After Sherrie shares with Phil her priority to have a baby, he re-emphasizes that he does not ever want to be a parent. He tells her how sad he is that their plans are so conflicting because he does love her deeply.

Sherrie and Phil ultimately decide to break up. This is a difficult and painful decision to make, but one that also offers a sense of relief to both. They feel like they can continue to support one another as friends as they continue in different life directions.

Whether you stay together or end your relationship, you and your partner will hopefully realize that you are not trapped in any situation. There are always choices-- even if they seem small or insignificant at first.

Remind yourself that you do have the power to choose your next step in life. And remember that you can choose to open up and try to find the places where your and your partner's wishes possibly overlap.


Susie and Otto Collins are married, life partners who are Relationship and Life Success Coaches, and authors of several books on relationships, including "Should You Stay or Should You Go?" "No More Jealousy" "Creating Relationship Trust" "Communication Magic" and "Attracting Your Perfect Partner." In addition to having a great relationship, they regularly write, speak and conduct seminars on love, relationships and personal growth. To read more free articles like this or to sign up for their free online relationship tips newsletter visit or


Susie and Otto Collins
P.O. Box 14544
Columbus, Ohio 43214
(614) 459-8121

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