I never thought I would be writing a piece on divorce.
After my parents’ not so amicable divorce, I swore I would never get married if I couldn’t sustain it for a lifetime.
The difference between my divorce and my parents’ divorce is that we kept our love whole; we are friends and partners. We are a family.
My ex husband Keith and I met in college at the age of 19. We married at the age of 24, had two daughters and divorced a few days shy of our eight year wedding anniversary.
Family, friends and strangers are astounded with the graceful parting of our marriage.
We receive the question all of the time, “How are you able to do that?” Our answer: “Because we love each other.”
I had the foresight (because of my experience as a child of divorce) to protect the foundation of my relationship, for the love of my children and their precious childhood. I refused to destroy their innocence.
When our daughters draw a picture of our family, they draw the four of us holding hands under one roof. We are proof that divorce is not fated to divide a family; it can enforce and strengthen its foundation. We are an unshakeable team, with an indestructible roof of love.
We saw the whole picture. Our marriage was its own pulsing being, its heart stopped beating, but our love did not. Divorce is not the end of love, it is the cessation of a pledged definition. We redefined our bond.
For the last couple of years, I’ve been asked about the secret to our peaceful un-union. Here is the path Keith and I walked, step by step.
1. Honor the truth. Truth is sacred.
Truth is sacred even if it causes pain. What causes us pain helps us grow the most.
If you are not serving yourself, you can not serve another, therefore the relationship is malnourished. When a relationship reaches a point of starvation, both people need to forage within themselves for sustenance.
A relationship is only satiated if each person is, individually.
Food is found inside of us. When we attempt to gratify our internal needs with external provisions, we enter into famine and we perish. Relationships fail because the two people within them depend on the other to feed them. Relying on your partner to sustain you, is like taking supplements and rejecting wholesome healthy foods.
Be honest with yourself. If you are feeling distant and disconnected from your partner, it is because you are distant and disconnected from yourself. It is time to turn inward.
Some can self study and do their homework within their marriages, others can not. Only you know if you need to leave your marriage, or if you and your partner can both commit to working separately, together.
I was the initiator of my separation. It was the most excruciating revelation of my life. I realized I was not feeding and satisfying myself. I understood there was no possible way for me to be serving Keith. I needed independence. I had to step away from the wall of comfort and fall into the unknown. My truth was, I had to end the relationship to nurture my needs.
It is critical to remember that when we are rejected or we reject someone, we are releasing another and ourselves. When we are released, we are free. Freedom is our only goal in life. Sometimes, we must break a promise (to love another for a lifetime).
Bitter, volatile, hateful separations occur because the people within these relationships ignore their intuition. They don’t listen to themselves, they remain in their marriage out of fear. Hate is bred in the fallacy of fear. If we live in lies, we live in hate. If we live in truth, we live in love.
I had the courage to say goodbye to my union because I understood I was honoring a vow greater than the vow of marriage. I was upholding the promise to myself, to love myself first, listen to my heart, trust in my actions and worship my truth.
2. Don’t cheat.
Keep the loyalty bound. If the vein of trust is ruptured, it will bruise for a lifetime. Cheating is an easy out. It requires no bravery, respect, empathy or restraint. The separation will become complicated and messy, and the opportunity to maintain a friendship with your spouse will be ruined.
Infidelity is never about the flaming hot sex or the desired man or woman; infidelity is a symptom and sign of the deficit one feels in his or her being.
Having an affair, whether sexual or emotional does not satisfy the needs of our hearts, it destroys it. Instead of feeding our yearning burning wants, we should answer the passionate call of our spirit.
The discontent in your marriage is about you. Your partner is a reflection of you. If you are bored and resentful of your partner and their shortcomings, it is a result of your un-satisfaction with yourself.
No one else will ever complete you, only you can.
Don’t listen to anyone else’s judgments or opinions, including your own. These thoughts don’t belong to you, they belong to fear.
Fear speaks through doubting questions such as, how will I afford to live? How will I survive the loneliness? What will my family and friends think? Am I a terrible person? Maybe I should just stay?
No. If your intuition says it’s the end, it’s the end.
Trust in your decision. Make the choice and stick to it. Be decisive, be strong and don’t waiver.
You and your spouse shared everything during your relationship—continue to do that. Things are just things. If something has more meaning to them than it does to you, give it to them.
You are freeing yourself, so don’t let battles over dishes or artwork muddy the beauty of the release. There is no need to make a sequel to The War of the Roses, leave the disdain to Turner and Douglas.
Ask yourself, “Does this couch make me ooze bliss?” I’m guessing the answer is no. You should be able to sit on the floor and shine bright.
Share your friends too. Any friends that are going to choose sides aren’t true friends. Love (friends and family) endures regardless of geography and a platinum ring.
Communicate openly your anger, your sadness, your longing, your loss, your love. As a couple you were married. You were a team. You were partners. Keep that connection. Grieve together; grieve for each other. Endure the break up together—you will be stronger friends if you do.
Sympathy is the catalyst for compassion. You were both members of the same union; you are grieving the same loss—share in all the feelings of your loss and sympathize with one another. You will cycle through different emotions at different times. You may survive your angry phase first. When your partner goes through his or her bout of fury you will be able to meet him or her with compassion because of your experience.
Remember the man or woman you first fell in love with. Remember how you cherished them. You once thought they were the greatest person to grace the planet.
See them this way.
If you do, you will always greet them warmly, speak of them sweetly and think of them lovingly.
You saw divinity in your partner in order to marry him or her. That never goes away.
Learn from your relationship.
Treat the marriage as you would a subject in school. Take notes, review and study.
You will have a new appreciation for the insight you gain from the marital experience.
Acknowledge the lessons you learned, and then let them go. Renunciate them. Release them into the world. Share with others what you know.
If you have learned a lesson from your marriage, you will not be burdened with resentment or blame because lessons are neither good or bad. They transform into understanding and understanding is wisdom.
You will see your partner as your teacher and ally, not your enemy.
Accept the end. We are afraid of ending; we see them as failures. This is not a failure—it is a leap of faith.
Neither of you are dying. Your marriage is, but it can transform. When anything dies something else is born in its place.
Turn around and greet the present. See the beginning of a redefined family and friendship. If you accept the beginning, you will move forward without confines.
Have faith with every step and accept you are being guided and cradled by the universe.
There will be terrifying moments of loneliness, confusion and doubt, but they are temporary. See these moments as a guest teacher, leaving behind knowledge that will root as wisdom for your next relationship.
Endings should be celebrated. There are rituals and celebrations for births, marriages, deaths and commencements, why not divorce? Celebrate your love, celebrate what you have created together.
Keith and I went out for lunch after we left the courthouse. We toasted to our bravery, to our children, to our lives, to our love.
10. Say Thank You.
Thank your spouse.
Look him or her in the eyes and say, “Thank you.” Bless your partner with your appreciation for the years of devotion and commitment, for walking beside you on your path because it led you to where you are today.
See yourself through their eyes. If you do, you will look at them compassionately, as another who tried the best they knew how.
Honor the truth. Don’t cheat or ignore judgments. Share, communicate, remember, learn, accept, celebrate and say thank you—this is my recipe for a loving divorce.
Even if your partner is unable to follow these steps with you, you can follow them on your own.
You will part from your marriage with dignity and move forward with clarity of who you are and what you want in your life.
All that matters in life is how we act toward ourselves and others, so follow the path of kindness and truth. If you do, you are always making the right decision.