Deciding my own values and beliefs around marriage and relationships has taken quite some time for me. And to be honest, it’s not something that I can say I have all figured out yet. It’s like it evolves just like I do on a minute-by-minute basis!! But, perhaps like many of you, I have been brought up in a culture that celebrates and values marriage and one that upholds that you marry one person for life; that marriage can be redemptive or the key to living “happily ever after”. I support many people who are separating or have separated in my work without it being an issue though when I faced my own separation, I began to search my heart and looked to others who have separated in healthy ways to guide and inspire me so that I could do it in love and fully respect myself and my ex-partner as well as ensure that my children were well cared for through the process. If you are going through similar or who are supporting someone going through similar, I hope to provide some hope because let’s face it, though there can be heartache, grief, anger, confusion, loss… There can also be new life and transformation too.
I was married for 11 years and said my vows in full faith that we would be together forever, in sickness and in health until one of us died. I am generally a very loyal friend and for those of you that know me, I am not usually the kind of person to end a relationship. So separating for me was A. BIG. DEAL!! A big part of me tried to argue that despite the state of the relationship, that it was wrong to “give up” and every so often, it still tries to remind me of all the beautiful times, as if to convince me to try again. But despite how weird this may sound, I actually don’t feel like I’m giving up anymore. I don’t feel like it’s “ended”, I feel like it’s changed. There has been grief though for sure. Confusion in every aspect, freedom, self-discovery, hope and again more grief, and during these times I have really reflected on relationships at whole and especially, if marriage isn’t a once in a lifetime, one man til you die kind of thing, than what is marriage? And why do people stay together and others separate? I am sure that I am not the first to ask these questions because when I tell people that my husband and I have separated, the first question I seem to get is “why?” It’s like other people are trying to make sense of it as well. Really, I believe that everyone has their own moral compass around marriage and what they consider to be acceptable reasons for leaving and people will make a judgment according to their own compass. It is not the purpose of this post, nor do I feel that it is very honouring to say things about the man I’ve journeyed so close to all these years to give those reasons here. But there are reasons and what I have learnt from my personal experience and from the many couples and individuals I have supported professionally or as a friend/family member, there are no right or wrong reasons to stay married and likewise, there are no right or wrong reasons to separate. There are just reasons and those reasons need to be right for those involved, considering the children of course.
But sometimes, it’s just time.
Thinking about what makes a separation inspiring made me think of not the reasons why but HOW the separation was conducted. I started to think about all the people who I had known who had left their marriages and how inspired I was by their brave courage and their grace. Here’s some things I found inspiring:
-They seemed to handle things so respectfully, never outwardly shaming their ex-partner.
-They seemed to understand that some things in life are meant for a season.
-They were able to grieve for a time but be grateful for the many things their relationship had taught them or given them.
-They were real and they connected and embraced every emotion that came with their decision.
I also found it inspiring to see what they became after the separation (and I must add, sometimes separation is a process..). Many of the members have actually blossomed and thrived since the separation. Like the marriage was perhaps holding them back! That finding their way out and finding their happiness again has actually spoken volumes to their children about choices and about value or worth. That they understood their happiness was important to their children and being happy made their children happy. I know that separation doesn’t always bring about such positive changes, especially if it brings up old trauma and beliefs around rejection, abandonment or not being wanted or loved. Whether a marriage separation or separating in many other contexts, some people also choose to hold onto bitterness, blame (whether blaming the other or self-blame) but I believe in healing and wholeness and I strive to support others through my services to achieve this too. It is totally possible!
Separation can bring a new lease on life and can show you the areas that you can develop to be a more whole person. If you want support in your separation, please get in touch here. Healing and transformation can be a beautiful thing.
As well as looking at the HOW of separating, I have also been inspired by who the people they have become after the separation. These are the people I look towards to give me courage. So I encourage you to find some inspiring people too. They help me believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. That you can live a life post separation and that it’s actually ok (and in many cases, beneficial) to separate. It’s such a weird space for me to be in because I also have huge respect for people who stay married for their entire lives too. The couples I am inspired most by are the ones that are happy and whose partnership is actually serving them to live their lives, reach their goals and do wonderful growth as a couple and as individuals. I have experienced this in my marriage too at times and I still believe that it’s possible to have that with another person. Sometimes you can reach more people as a couple, sometimes you can do more change as an individual. Sometimes, the relationship it is not serving the people involved (including the children) and sometimes (often) the only thing that is stopping people from making the change towards a new future is fear. And to stay in a marriage for those reasons is completely understandable and that is your journey. I have been there too. If you are staying due to fear, like fear of being on your own, fear of abandonment, fear of what other people will think of you if you leave; you may be stopping yourself from living a life for you and again, no judgements of course but reach out if you want to release these fears. You may also be staying for hope that things will change. And maybe they will. And it’s okay for you to stay because of hope too. As I said, there are never any wrong reasons to stay just as there are never any wrong reasons to leave. There are just reasons.
Thank you to all the people that have separated and who are rebuilding their lives the way that they choose. Who are finding themselves again. Who are trying new things. Who are following their dreams. Who are setting a great example to their children. And, for those that have found love again post separation. Thank you for lighting the path for us and showing us what’s possible. Thank you for being humble. Thank you for the love and support that you have shown to each other and to your children (if involved) and thank you for loving and valuing yourselves most of all. You inspire me. And thank you to those who are married too. Who are standing by their commitment and working and growing together. Who continue to love their partner. You also inspire me. I would love to hear more stories from my readers of inspiring separations so that we can encourage and counteract some of the judgments and negative messages that are making it even more difficult for people to leave when it’s time to leave. Please comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Bless and be free.