Letting Go Without Losing It: How to Separate with Your Dignity Intact
Not all break-ups are a hot mess. Contrary to popular belief, you can separate and divorce without high drama. You and your partner can move towards independence with your dignity intact.
Is it easy? Often, it’s not. Is it worth the effort? Yes!
Why do couples separate?
Let’s first make an important clarification. We’re not talking about cases of abuse or situations involving infidelity. There are instances when preserving dignity primarily means staying safe.
However, many couples separate due to a sense of losing compatibility. They drift apart. They may still feel love but they’ve come to recognize that being partners is no longer the right choice. In these situations, it’s certainly wise to avoid a problematic break-up.
Some common post-separation/divorce issues
Holding a grudge
Endings are difficult. In the flow of grief, it’s natural to assign blame. But blame has a way of pushing dignity aside.
Refusing to forgive
Ego can also obscure dignity. The desire to be right often becomes a roadblock. Relationships can involve broken promises and bitter disagreements. To facilitate a split you can live with, you may need to start with forgiveness.
- Refusing to be accountable
If it doesn’t begin with forgiveness, it may begin with asking forgiveness. This means offering authentic regret and being accountable for actions. Not, “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry if you were offended.”
Instead, own up, show regret, and be clear about how it would be different in the future.
5 Ways to Separate with Your Dignity Intact
Don’t believe the hype
We’re conditioned to hear “ex” and think negative thoughts. From stand-up comedy, movies to TV shows, we’re taught to disdain our exes. This is pop culture, not relational fact. We can each decide how best to separate. Staying friends with your ex can be really rewarding and enriching.
Remember the foundation of friendship
Sure, attraction and lust were involved. But at its core, your connection is probably based on friendship. You needed trust, commitment, shared values, and common interests. If the romantic phase is over, fall back on the foundation of friendship.
Consider the kids
Things are quite different if you and your significant others have children. It should not come as news that your decision to split will impact your kids. Choosing patience, dignity, and understanding can create a healthier and easier environment for your kids. Children don’t want to have to choose between their parents. They should be able to feel free to love both as much as they want. If you get along with your ex it makes it so much easier on the kids.
See the big picture
In the moment, there’s anger, guilt, shame, and blame. But this moment will not last forever. Unless you insist on it. Feel what you need to feel. Take the time and space you need. But again, this moment does not have to last forever. A big picture view allows for constant evolution and re-connections.
The first step is a shared commitment to dignified separation. However, this commitment alone may not be enough. Couples counseling can help you find the kind of closure you can both live with. A therapist can guide you back to the factors that brought you together. From there, you can re-imagine and reinvent your connection.
byCounselingWise on May 8, 2017