When a marriage or long term committed relationship ends, in order to reconcile what happened, it is common to attempt to identify something that was wrong that gives reason for the breakdown of the relationship – either the other person, the relationship itself, or even oneself was somehow to blame for the failure.
As we move on from our past relationships, we are likely moving into a future of avoiding making that same mistake again. This leaves us guarded, cautious, or in some ways, easily critical of any prospective new partner. In many cases, this may cause us to hesitate entering another relationship at all for fear of the same failure.
While it is valid to take the view that there was something wrong or at fault for the unworkability of the relationship, it is not the only view. Consider that our relationships are a place to grow, learn and, ultimately, evolve. In this view, each of us has something to gain from each of our relationships and, equally, something to offer, all for the purpose of evolution – both for ourselves and for our partners.
I have had several clients ask, “Is it really possible to have a peaceful divorce when one person wants peace and the other wants to fight?” And my answer is, “Yes, it is possible.” How? In many ways, by taking the view that you are in charge of your own evolution, and you have the capacity to influence another’s evolution in the process.
The first step is to make a commitment to viewing your relationship, including the ending of it, as an integral part of your evolution. Sometimes people say they are committed to learning, but truly they are still looking for ‘who or what is to blame?’ It takes consistent practice in noticing when you are blaming someone or something (including yourself), letting that go, and re-committing to discovering your evolutionary journey.
The second step is to choose your core values. Values may be patience, compassion, love, honesty, forgiveness, collaboration, peace, etc. These values are your beacon, your higher-guiding light in those difficult moments when conversations get intense, or when you are not even with your ex-partner but battling in your mind with them. Arm yourself with the values that most ignite you and leave you feeling ‘real’ for yourself. Practice acting from your values more and more, and that ability will strengthen.
The third important step is to acknowledge the manifestation of your vision, even in the smallest of accomplishments. It is always easy to see the negativity, failures or disappointments. We often overlook the accomplishments that illuminate the path of continuous evolution ahead. It may be as simple as during a conversation, your ex-partner said something that you would normally react to with anger, and instead you took a deep breath, listened, and responded in a calm and peaceful way. Or, you may recognize your ex-partner for responding calmly when they would normally react with anger. Either way, it is worth acknowledging as part of the evolution of your relationship and yourself.
When you practice these steps – and it does take practice – you will support yourself to leave the relationship and keep the love.
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