How do you know when it’s time to cut bait? It’s a question that’s plagued me for a while now, mostly because many of my clients are in my office as a direct result of the inability to do so.

Mostly, my clients are wondering when to say “good-bye” to their marriages, but the anxiety over ending a relationship doesn’t only pertain to romantic ones. Business relationships, friendships, even toxic family relationships can be exceedingly hard to give up. So, when is enough enough?imagesCAQ21ZQQ

I think I may have found out. The other day, a client came into my office and announced she and her husband are divorcing after many years of living more as roommates than spouses. She had taken the time to do a review of her marriage inside and out in my office over many sessions. And, as she told me the news, I realized something: She had no unfinished emotional business. So, saying “good-bye” to the marriage felt more like relief than sadness.

So, too, in our mediations. When it really IS time to cut bait, the parties and the mediator usually know. And, those mediations always seem to go more smoothly than others.

However, when there is much unfinished emotional business, everyone knows too! And, those mediations? Well, the heated emotions always seem to get in the way of real progress.

As conflict resolution professionals, we can never predict which parties are really ready to move on and which aren’t. But, in our own lives, we can certainly take note of when we are ready to cut bait–and never look back.


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