Can divorce be the ultimate gesture of love?
Yes, that might sound strange at first, but we would like to challenge the general idea of divorce as a reason to hate your ex-spouse, and as something that must be ugly, conflict filled and alienating.
For what is divorce if not the act of admitting that I am no longer capable of loving you the way you need to be loved. You are no longer capable of loving me the way I need to be loved. And as such, we are setting each other free to open up for the possibility of receiving what we need, and giving what we can, with someone who is in alignment with us.
To stay in a relationship that is no longer working; whether it’s downright dysfunctional and toxic, or simply unhappy and unsatisfying, is self-betrayal. It’s also dishonest to the other party. We end up holding each other hostage in a relationship that requires one or both parties to self-betray to keep the relationship afloat, which only sets us off in a downward spiral where nobody wins long-term. There is no secret that divorce and breakup triggers a lot of fears, and paradoxically, those fears are usually what keep us in the relationship, and then we find ourselves in a relationship built on fear instead of love.
How is that right? How is that honoring our partner and ourselves? It’s not. So: divorce can be the ultimate gesture of love. Love for myself, and love for my partner; by accepting and respecting that there is an irreparable discrepancy between our individual needs, wants and the capability and willingness to satisfy that.
Staying together “for the kids” is a noble thought and prioritizing the well-being of children is always essential. However, there are potential consequences of holding a relationship together “for the kids”. Children are very intuitive and can sense the dynamics of an unhealthy, unhappy relationship. Seeing their parents staying in a relationship that they really should no longer be in teaches the child high tolerance for dysfunction and how to disregard emotional boundaries – which they risk bringing into their own romantic relationships as adults. Over time, this can make “red flags” in relationships feel normal. To instead witness your parents making decisions where they honor their happiness, boundaries and emotional well-being by going separate ways, can be much more beneficial for the child in the long run.
Divorce is sad. It can be frightening. It can cause emotional, physical, and financial stress. It can cause a lot of anger as well as grief. But it’s not a failure. It’s not a reflection of your worthiness of love. And it doesn’t have to be a declaration of war – all it takes is a shift in our perception and we can consider it an act of love.
Please join the Mediation team at The Center of Change for a free webinar on how to navigate divorce in a gentle, sustainable way.
April 12th at 5pm EST – register here.