Marriage Separation Advice From the Heart

The European Journal » Marriage Separation Advice From the Heart

Alright, you’ve been in love with this guy/gal for a long time, moved in, become defacto/gotten married/committed in some big and public way. Fast forward a few years, decades (days…?) and you’re fighting all the time, being mean, nasty or just plain boring to each other.

You’ve tried everything nothing seems to help. You decide, or s/he decides, or possibly you both decide it’s not working and lets just call it off and go our separate ways…. what now?!

Firstly why am I writing about this and what gives me the right to say this stuff?  I have been married, left my husband, moved back in and tried again, he then left me, and now I am separated and looking down the barrel of a reasonably amicable divorce in a years time. 

Also I have been privileged to spend time with some amazing friends (male and female) who have been through this journey themselves, and we have shared our stories, laughed, cried and supported each other along the way. 

What I propose to do here is offer you some of the wisdom, humour and suggestions I have been given and given to others. May I go further and say none of this is advice that you MUST take – everyone’s journey is different, their lives, personality and circumstances will be different in big and subtle ways. 

Sometimes all you need is to know, is that another human being was capable of surviving this process and you will too.

A relationship takes time, effort, sacrifice, trust and a host of other commitments.  In return we hope that we will receive love, affection, respect, happiness and a whole lot of beautiful and wonderful things. 

When a relationship becomes damaged or one or the other partner is no longer committed, respectful or loving, it’s time to weigh up the good days against the bad days and do your maths.

Good days add numbers and the bad days minus numbers. If you end up with a positive number, great there’s something good happening here and perhaps can build the relationship back to happiness. 

However when you end up with a negative number (GD – BD = -5) and there are more bad days than good, it’s time to consider if the relationship is still worthwhile and giving you what you need.

“But I still love her/him!”  Yes, and you should expect that there will always be some connection there, after all there was something wonderful in the beginning to make your commitment worthwhile even if it’s nasty now. 

Do you still enjoy spending time together? Does s/he treat you the way you need to be treated? Do you even like them anymore?!  Sometimes the answers are easy, as in the case of violence, and sometimes the answers are difficult, as in the case of growing apart. 

When you decide to leave or are left, these questions will still exist, try not to torture yourself too much by asking them of yourself and/or your ex.

A wise person said to me – “a relationship takes a lot of time to build it up; it will take time to break it down as well”.  You cannot expect to be able to leave (or be left) and be able to get over it easily and quickly. 

Even when the break up is amicable and polite, it will hurt and feel bad.  BUT!  At the same time it will also feel liberating, exciting and comes with a huge sigh of relief (even if it’s really deep-down).  Bad relationships are unhealthy to be in and leaving them (by choice or not) gives you relief from the day-to-day heartbreak and begins the process of healing and growing.  This will take time.

In my journey to separation I found some helpful tips and tricks, these are what I’ve like to share with you now.

Talk To your ex: try to get an understanding of where you or they will be going physically to live and what you will be taking and what they will be keeping – if you can’t do this face-to-face, get a lawyer or mutual friend you trust to help you negotiate this.  From experience I really TRULY do not recommend living together while you are trying to separate (although sometimes you don’t have much of a choice) – it’s tough, complicated and you can’t really separate if you are still living together.

Stop talking to your ex.  Get some space, perspective and time out.  After all you’ve just been living in the relationship 24/7 for the last however long, it might be a good time to get some distance from the relationship and have a look at yourself and who you are now.

Start, or keep, talking to your friends and family. They care about you (don’t talk to the ones that don’t), and will want to love you up and support you through this.  Accept they will probably want to give you advice – everyone does!  Thank people, take what is useful and discard what isn’t. As I said above, everyone’s situation is different; some things won’t be helpful no matter how caring the advice is.

Develop a network of single and separated friends – there is nothing harder than socialising with happy couples right now.  I started a First-Wives-Club of other gals who’d been through a separation and wanted to chat and get support and just go out socialising – it’s amazing how many of us there are once you look.

Be kind to yourself.  You are probably doing it really tough right now and will need some extra love and understanding, especially from yourself.  You will make mistakes (like drunk-dialling your ex and saying ANYTHING!), take risks you wouldn’t normally (please be careful), and just doing the things hurt and sad, angry and crazy people do (like going out… all the way to the front door before turning around in floods of tears and calling in pizza and sulking in front of a movie).

Stop sulking!  It has its place and there’s a definite need to sulk in front of bad TV and eat/drink/cry/scream, however, you must not over-indulge in this.  Getting out and seeing the sun, socialising, and exercising are things that once you’re doing them, will feel better than you thought they could.  Also if you loose your job because you stopped showing up, then things get really tough.

Consider who you are, get to know yourself again and re-evaluate your life.  Try to do this with a positive headspace or in the presence of a person who can support you – friends, family and counsellors are good people to help you with this.

Remember that the end of a relationship will cause you some grief.  Grieving takes time and goes through stages – a good perspective on grief is Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s ‘5 Stages of Grief’.

Kubler-Ross suggests a person will go through the 5 different stages of grief as part of their processing, it is written about death but many people find it applies to all kinds of loss and grief.  I know I certainly did (and still am) going through those stages in my grieving for the death of my marriage

The 5 Stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance.  For most people, you will go through some of these stages in a different order and often more than once – this perspective can help you to understand why last week you were threatening to rip his/her head off and this week you are trying to negotiate to be a better partner if they’ll just give it another try….

There are no short cuts – you will have to live through this and experience the pain/anger/etc.  It will be worthwhile because out the other side will come a wiser, stronger and ultimately happier person – you!

Good luck with your journey