After two years of not facing the issue, my partner and I have finally talked about splitting up. It was a huge relief to hear that he felt the same way I did, but we’re feeling pretty devastated and don’t know how our kids, one and six, are going to react. Is there anything you’d suggest to ease the process?
I’m sorry to hear that. But part of me is happy at the same time. The part that knows despite this being an awful situation to be in, you’ve risen to the huge challenge of change. Sometimes we know something’s not good for us, but we do it anyway. A good example could be eating sugary foods. We know we shouldn’t but often feel compelled to do it. And we do it with the big stuff too – a job we know isn’t really right for us, or, in your case, a relationship that’s no longer serving you – yet we just can’t seem to change it. The mountain’s too big to climb, the challenge is too great, and the unknown is just plain scary. So we stick it out, hoping things will get better. Mostly they don’t, because positive change tends not to happen unless we positively influence our lives in some way. But if we get stuck, it’s quite possible we need external help getting unstuck. But you’ve done it. It may have taken you two years, but you’re there now, facing the big ugly monster called change (who despite appearances is a most benevolent beast). No doubt you’re feeling scared as well as relieved.
Now that the wheels of change are in motion, there are a number of things you can do to keep things oiled. First, try letting go of any expectations on how things should turn out. Stay open to your various options, as well as allowing for new ones to open up. Secondly, devote some time, even if it’s just a few minutes day, to sitting in stillness – connecting with the part of you that’s eternally unperturbed by external circumstance. Finally, I’d recommend you and your partner have some counselling – either together or individually. You may both find that your issues are ‘your’ issues, and not so much to do with the other. If this is the case, the ground on which your relationship was trying to grow was full of stones; heal yourselves and you may find the relationship can grow again, maybe even blossom. If it’s not the case, and your issues really are with each other, it’s good practice to heal yourselves anyway, so you don’t miss the opportunity to prepare the soil for your future happiness.
As for the children, the happier you are, the happier they’ll be. Parents living apart in joy are often of greater service to their children than parents living together in pain. If you do separate, it’s almost inevitable there will be some suffering for all concerned. But suffering can be a great gift if used wisely. You could try reading Building Emotional Intelligence, by Linda Lantieri & Daniel Goleman for inspiration on helping your children cope, even thrive during times of change and uncertainty.
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