A Letter I Wrote to a Couple Who Is Separated
As we all know, despite everyone’s best efforts, sometimes a couple separates for a while to re-evaluate things. This is a good thing. It brings clarity.
And sometimes after a year separation, the marriage dissolves entirely. This can be a good thing, too, where two people who have grown apart make it official and go their separate ways. It creates freedom and honesty all around.
Amazingly, after a good dose of personal work and reflection, sometimes people reunite. After so many months of exploration, and pretty much being up against their own patterns, tendencies, demons, and beliefs, a couple may get back together. If they do, they are wiser, stronger and clearer as they give it another go.
Recently, I met with a couple who is smack in the middle of things. They are about halfway through the separation journey. They are not done, not even close. They have miles to go.
To celebrate the six month mark, I did something a little out of the ordinary. I met with them in person and the three of us did a talking session plus a fire ceremony. The fire ceremony was about letting go and grieving, but also about celebrating what had always been good, what could be even better, and creating a happier future partnership no matter whether they stay together or not.
It was awesome on every level.
What follows is a letter I wrote to them afterwards about the importance of not getting in a hurry about a relationship decision. I’m sharing it with you because it addresses the idea of offering “quality information” to our partner, which is the practice of appreciating the truth from our partner. This is not necessarily who we hope they are or who we want them to be. Instead of shielding our eyes and ears, we listen and get curious.
The letter also underlines the value of making mistakes and learning, that it’s always a good idea to give ourselves room to move, room to breathe, room to fall down and get back up.
It may also help any of you who are on this same journey, or about to be.
Looking back on the session and the fire ceremony, I hope you found it useful, calming, reassuring, and whatever else it needed to be for you.
You both gave your all, and you committed to appreciating the exchange of quality information between the two of you, so that you can see who you are and who your partner is, which may not have been how either of you showed up in the marriage. What a brilliant undertaking!
My hat goes off to both of you for understanding this idea, and for being willing to work with it. That’s a really, really good effort.
In my own reflection about the session, I’d like to emphasize something now that I may not have underlined enough at the fire, which is that even at the six month mark, you’re still in a powerful process.
At this point, you may feel sure that you do not want to get back together, or you may hold hope for reconciliation.
It’s perfectly okay to have decided you’re done. That decision can help you focus on yourself and do your inner work. However, it’s not the end of the year, and things may shift for you anytime between now and then. And it may not. Either way, couples usually need a year to make a decision that’s stable.
Having personally experienced both divorce and the death of a partner, I can say that being separated and contemplating divorce is in certain ways similar to the grief process, where you go through a massive reorientation during that first year. It’s important to give yourself time to move through all of the emotions and changes that occur.
It’s also perfectly okay to hold hope for the relationship. That decision helps you do your inner work as well. However, please hold the possibility that by the end of the year you may see things entirely differently.
All of this is to say… this is a process. I know it’s tempting, but please don’t get in a hurry about it.
It’s okay to close a door, or to hold it open, knowing that in the grand scheme of things it’s one decision along the way. It may surprise you that such a firm decision can shift dramatically over time.
Meanwhile, practice practice practice. Make mistakes. Reflect on them.
Get together with someone you used to know and see how your relationship with them is now. Notice what you’ve learned. Notice your bullshit detector has improved, that you don’t fall for the same things you used to.
Notice you can keep the steady flame of love burning inside you, even when someone is challenging you or criticizing you. Notice you are stronger and clearer in stressful situations, that they don’t throw you off track like they used to. Or if one does, simply back up, take a deep breath, and try again.
Remember that you’ve got lots of room to move. This is your time to unravel the patterns you never wanted in the first place.
Pay attention to what you’re learning and give yourself plenty of love and appreciation for that.
Love to you both. To your open mind and heart. Terri
That was the letter.
It’s important that each of us gives quality information to our partner. That we give ourselves room to learn through mistakes and trials. That we take time to make an important decision, even to allow ourselves to change our minds a couple of times. It’s okay.
Blessings on your journey!
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How to Save Your Fourth Marriage, In Care of Relationships, intimate relationships, Terri Crosby