Divorce is a common occurrence in society today. If our marriage doesn’t work out we have a choice, we can make a decision to break the contract we made with our husband or wife and go on our merry way. Unfortunately it is usually not as simple as that. When the relationship breaks down or has been in turmoil for many years, both partners may be harbouring hurts and resentments that run deep. There could be children and pets involved, and property and assets to divide. For many this process can be a nightmarish tug of war that can cost tens, and sometimes up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in solicitors fees as we struggle to obtain what we feel is rightfully ours. The extreme stress this places on each party and the children can be huge. But could there be another way?
It may seem crazy that once upon a time you loved and cared for each other, exchanged vows of a promise to be there for one another through thick and thin, to then end up at war like worst enemies! But could divorce be an aspect of a relationship that is simply changing for the greater good? Divorce doesn’t need to be more rounds of creating deeper wounds, divorce can be what you want or need it to be for everyone to feel loved and supported. I know this idea may seem utopian or unattainable but it is possible. But how?
1. Heal your hurts together – This is a vital aspect of going through this transition in your relationship. When things are not working or there appears to be a calamity before you, there is always something to learn, it presents an opportunity for personal evolution and growth. There is gold to be discovered that can leave you feeling more whole and empowered if you are prepared to get honest and real about what is not ok, it is about being humble instead of self- righteous. You need to identify and break unhelpful patterns that you may be stuck in. I understand that if your partner has cheated on you or has been abusive in any way it can be hugely distressing but it is important to look at your patterns of behaviour or how your actions have let that behaviour happen or continue. There presents a huge opportunity for you to heal and not unconsciously take these harmful patterns into your next relationship. It is important to make peace with ourselves and each other by owning our part in the situation.
2. Let go of ideals – There are so many ideals and beliefs imposed on us by society about what marriage is and how it is supposed to be, we then enter into a relationship with a picture of what we think our marriage is. This limits us and holds up captive to an ideal which is unattainable, but the truth is our relationship can be more than we ever imagined if we are able to let go of the picture. Every relationship, no matter how fleeting, offers us evolution, an opportunity to grow. Sometimes relationships run their course and need to change form for each partner to remain true to themselves. This may mean divorce, but again divorce doesn’t need to be what we are told it is; a failure, a disaster, a tragedy. Leaving a marriage is part of a cycle, like the seasons, where we are always being offered another opportunity just as winter turns to spring, if we are open to what the universe is offering each of us all the time.
3. Practice Appreciation – As I mentioned earlier there is always a gift in every seeming calamity. Endevour to be aware of what that particular relationship was offering you. What was it showing you about yourself? This can be difficult to accept at times but the discomfort is worth the rewards of growing as a person and learning more about our patterns of behaviour that are holding us back from who we truly are. Take time to appreciate what your relationship has offered you, your new found awareness, your ability to heal.
4. Be Love – I know this may sound weird but the truth is when we live the above points mentioned then this will feel like a natural thing to do. When you remain respectful and decent towards our ex-partner you feel good about yourself. This may mean having no interaction what so ever with that person again, but being able to move on without harbouring resentment and bitterness towards them is liberating. We are then able to heal and rise above our past and truly let go of what is not working, remaining open and trusting of others and ourselves. Love does not hurt us but ideals, beliefs and harmful patterns of behaviour do. In this way we also role model a true way of being to our children from which they can learn and be able to come through the situation relatively unscathed.
Kate Chorley is a psychotherapist & couples therapist practicing in the Parramatta & Blacktown areas of Western Sydney. She supports her clients in raising their self-awareness to lead more productive and fulfilling lives. Contact here or phone 0402134097 to make an appointment.