How Do I Tell If I Need To Make A Necessary Ending? [BOOK REVIEW]

11 May

In a previous post, I mentioned chapter 5 of Dr. Henry Cloud’s, Necessary Endings. This post discusses chapter 6 of his book.

Where chapter 5 introduced me to the concept of hopelessness, chapter 6 forced me to answer some poignant questions that crystallized my decision to move forward with ending my marriage. By answering these questions I was able to determine if I should have hope that the situation would get better, or if I was just wishing it would.

Ready? Let’s go!

Based On The Past, How Much Hope Do You Have In Your Current Situation?

So should you have hope that things will improve? How do you know if you should make a necessary ending and if a relationship needs to be pruned? How do you know if you should continue with the current relationship and have hope that it will work out?

If we’ve been in a similar situation before, we can relate. But what about if we’ve never been there before? How do we know whether we should have hope or hopelessness?

ASK YOURSELF: What has it been like so far? What is my current reality? How long am I willing to continue living my current reality?

You have to ask yourself if you are really happy with your current reality, or would something make it better? We must ask ourselves how long we’re willing to continue to live with things considering the way they have been going. Do you want your current reality, frustration, or problem six months from now? Are you willing to continue living the way things have been for another year? Another two years? Do you want to continue having the same conversations in the future? The same feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, rejection, and more?

If you are in an abusive relationship are you willing to continue living with that abuse in the hopes that things will improve? Are you willing to be beaten for another two months in the hopes that things will get better? Are you willing to live with being talked down to for two more weeks?

I asked myself if I could take my current reality a month and even two weeks from now and the answer was always, no.

“When you ask yourself if you should have hope for this person or business to get better, the first diagnostic is to see what has been happening up to this point. Unless something changes, that is exactly what you can expect to happen in the future. The best predictor of the future…is the past.” (94)

So What Is Worth Fighting For? Other Factors That Determine When You Should Salvage The Relationship.

The previous section really spoke to me because I had reached a point of hopelessness but couldn’t put it into words. Dr. Cloud’s words really made sense to me and validated everything that I felt.


But what if you and I were not in the same situations and you want to keep going? What if you don’t want things to end but you’re at an impasse and not sure what to think? From the main points he makes in this chapter, the following ideas may help you define the answer to those questions as to when the relationship is worth keeping-

♦   Admission of a need to change (105). If there is to be hope, there needs to be a sincere acknowledgment that change is needed. A repentance of the harm and hurt that actions (or inaction) have caused. A heart-driven cry for help. A statement that change is needed immediately. The first step for an abuser or addict to move forward is the admission that there is a problem. An abuser or alcoholic will probably never make strides towards improvement if they don’t see that a problem exists. If they don’t see that a problem exists, there probably is little hope for the relationship to continue.

♦   Investment in a change process (102). In addition to admitting the need for change there should be active participation in a change process. If your marriage is suffering and you are going to counseling but your spouse is not, there is probably little reason for hope. However if you are both attending counseling together or on your own, there is more hope for the future of the marriage.

On the other hand, if your abusive, alcoholic boyfriend has started going to AA meetings there may be hope for the future of the relationship. When there is investment in a change process over time, hopelessness can be suspended. Do you want the rest of your relationship to be about making the change happen? How long are you willing to let the change process last before hopelessness takes over?

♦   You’re not driving the change…entirely. When my marriage was suffering, it seemed like I was driving the change for positive improvement. Did I have my share in causing the hurt? Absolutely. Was I perfect? No way. But I felt I was the one driving the wagon for forward movement. I didn’t feel it was mutual. It made me feel alone and I realized that we were not on the same page with where we wanted to be. Not only should there be movement, but there should be some signs of success early on.

“If you are having to nag them into doing the work , chances are that if you quit nagging, then the work is going to stop as well. And if the work is not sustained, the the change is less likely to occur.” (104, 105)

 These are not the only points made in the chapter, just the ones that impacted my life the most.


Whether or not we have hope, there are some things we can look at to help us decide that for ourselves. Do you have a relationship where this fits the bill? Are you confused whether you should have hope or hopelessness?

Thank you for taking your time to read, comment, and share this post with others. I’m looking forward to having a dialogue and reading your comments!

What are your thoughts?

  1. Are you experiencing hope or hopelessness in a current relationship?

  2. If you are unsure whether to have hope, what things are holding you back?

  3. Have you read this chapter? What are your thoughts if you have?

NOTE: The ideas contained in this post are either directly or indirectly the intellectual property of Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, Necessary Endings. Quotations and page citations were used when the material was quoted directly.


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