In our culture divorce often equates to the dreaded f word...failure. It is this fear of failure that can prevent many unhappy couples from making the difficult decision to separate, even when separation is the healthiest solution. When you have exhausted all reasonable options within your marriage, yet you both continue to remain miserable, is this truly a successful partnership? Our fear of loss, the unknown and change can make the option of separation difficult to accept, even at the cost of our long-term happiness, health and well-being.
In these difficult circumstances, we should divert our focus away from society’s perception of divorce and instead reframe our own internal perceptions of marriage. There are many ways to define a healthy marriage. For some it is laughter, for others, it is openness and honesty. How do you choose to define your marriage? Is your sole measuring stick longevity? Just because something is forced to last forever, doesn’t make it a successful, healthy or prosperous venture.
Grant yourself permission to redefine your definition of marriage success. Instead of longevity, consider growth, happiness, and authenticity. Can you be your authentic self in the partnership, or are you simply going through the motions because it’s the “right” thing to do? Many couples stay in a dysfunctional marriage because of a shared sense of duty to life previously imagined when you initially said “I do” ...even when no joy remains in the partnership. Does this resonate with you?
As We Evolve on an Individual Level so Do Our Relationships
It is important to remember, that as we evolve on an individual level, so do our relationships. Just as cycles occur in nature, they occur in our personal relationships too. This is a completely natural process and shouldn’t be feared. In many cases (despite how hard we might try) transformation is not just inevitable but unavoidable. Unless you wish to halt any form of healthy growth for all parties, the children included. If a marriage has reached a natural conclusion, or no longer functions appropriately, it doesn’t mean that you have failed. It is simply time to separate from the dysfunction that is causing you pain and embrace a new beginning.
Of course, making the decision to separate is never easy, and there will always be an element of grief involved. But divorce can provide a positive new start, even for children affected by a dysfunctional partnership. Such a big change can appear scary on the surface; however, it can be a positive time when approached from a place of peace. For this to be possible, both parties must do their personal work to heal from the divorce process. Especially if you have parented children together.
Children struggle the most to adjust and move forward when there is an ongoing conflict between parents, and when parents share their personal feelings, including fears and grievances toward the other parent with the child. By taking personal accountability it also models to children the importance of taking responsibility for one’s well-being and mental health and not blaming others for losses. This internal work will help both parents and children to move forward and embrace a healthier future without fear or residual feelings of anger.