leaving may not be the answer. A fresh mindset and some new habits can give you the internal power to meaningfully change your relationship for the better.
Separating may seem like a quick fix—an easy escape. Even if it is the right decision for you, please know that there is no simple solution. Before exiting, consider this: some of us can radically change our dynamic for the better from within the context of the relationship. An openness to small shifts in habits and perspective can make all the difference. Remember, while the shape of your relationship may change, your reliance on each other will continue if there are children.
Better did not mean perfect. Becoming better means recognizing where there may be edges to explore. Insights to gain. When our relationships become difficult, sometimes a step back is the best way forward. Staying and leaving elegantly both entail courage and fortitude. To be graceful and grounded with either choice requires that we go deeper.
We can transform our relationships when we are open to skill building. When we begin noticing what we can change and what we must accept. When we learn to take care of ourselves, listen to one another, and respond rather than react. Remember, as much as we’d love to change the people we love, we have only the power to change ourselves.
Consider the possibility that a pause, whether brief or prolonged, can offer unexpected benefits, even in the midst of a painful time. Where there was once deep love and commitment, there is also the potential to transcend even the deepest discord. The decision to separate is one that will impact the rest of your life, especially if you have children.
It is a choice that deserves significant reflection and consideration. If abuse, such as untreated addiction, or mental illness are not in the picture, separation may not be necessary. The decision to divorce is not one that should be made in the heat of the moment. We’re all imperfect: we communicate ineffectively, we misinterpret, we judge, we tell ourselves stories without really listening. To complicate matters, we’re full of conflicting drives that seem to steer us in unexpected and unintended directions.
It is preferable to dare yourself and your partner to explore the practices of patience, respect, clarity, peace, and forgiveness as outlined here, prior to engaging with divorce proceedings. You may decide to commit to a period of time to work together to go deeper and explore how to make your relationship better together. Sometimes small tweaks in communication and effort to pay attention can make all the difference.
Perhaps it’s time to pay close attention to your partner, or to sit still for a week and just listen to yourself. Maybe it’s time to check in with a trusted teacher, coach, or therapist and ask the new questions, design your life, and find out if your partner has similar wishes. Maybe you need to refine your active-listening skills. Maybe it’s time to just look discerningly at your own role in obstructing your own dreams.
Consider the possibility that you can create a miraculous outcome via your thinking and your actions. Get a notebook or journal for our writing prompts and get to know yourself through your own words.