Many people who’ve separated say separation is worse than death because when someone dies you can have a funeral and say goodbye. When you separate, you experience the death of your 'couple relationship' and yet there are no obvious rituals like a funeral to help you. This can make things hard to move on.
I woke up one day and said to myself ‘this is it, no more treading on egg shells, the rest of my life starts here’. Wow, what a relief it was. There’s rarely a complete ending to a relationship when you’ve children together. The parenting relationship goes on forever.
Sometimes couples continue to argue and disagree over their children, money and belongings long after their separation. If this sounds like you and your ex, it’s worth thinking about why this might be happening.
You may want to consider whether any of the following statements are true for you:
- If you don’t keep disagreeing your contact with each other will end.
- Having conflict is better than no relationship at all.
- All the time there are things that need sorting out you can hold on to the hope that it’s not really the end.
- An ex in your life is better than no one.
- You don’t know how to draw the line completely.
All these things are quite usual. You just need to take a moment to think about whether there’s a way of making an ending that you and your partner can both accept and that will allow you both to move on.
Acceptance, is the first stage to moving on, it says ‘there is no going back’, ‘I know we will not be a loving intimate couple again’, ‘I accept that our relationship as a couple is over’.
Acceptance allows a great sense of relief. You are no longer battling to make it work or trying to get it right. No more room for blaming or feeling ashamed, just a simple stage of ‘Ok, here we are, now what?’
I tried many times to reach out with an olive branch, to say let’s move on. When we both finally accepted it was over, I planted an olive tree in the garden. That felt good.
People often feel a sense of freedom. You may feel unburdened, lighter, a bit anxious but hopeful. This gives way for energy and an amazing sense of purpose. Instead of feeling exhausted by all the emotional and physical effort that was around before you accepted the end, you now have the freedom to think differently, do different things, try out new relationships. This creates new energy. You should use it well.
You may find things difficult after your break-up. You may feel scared or confused. You may lack direction to your life.
However, the end of a relationship can be a new beginning. It can give you the opportunity to reassess your life and create something more fulfilling for you and your children.
70% of users reported improved or significantly improved ability to seek help for themselves after using Separation Planner
(based on usage up to 20th September 2020)
A new direction
As time moves on you may find the motivation to start looking for a new direction. When that happens, you may find it helpful to consider the following:
- Look for ways in which you can find and promote lasting happiness within yourself, e.g. achieving things you feel would enrich who you are as a person like a new hobby, or helping others. This may be preferable to drifting towards external things, such as things to buy or eat, which may only bring short-term pleasure.
- Be courageous. Believe you can do what you want to do and don’t put limits on your hopes and aspirations.
- Think positively. Be ready to catch yourself when negative thoughts pop into your head. Think about what you ‘could try’ rather than what you ‘can’t do’, no matter how small.
- All relationships are learning. Find time to reflect on your relationship. Did it hold you back? What have you learned from it? What would you do differently next time?
Focussing on the future
It can help to think about how you see your future. You might like to try this activity that looks at planning for the future:
Draw out a time-line in the middle of a page. Start from the point of your separation to a point in the future that you can plan too (6 -18 months may be realistic) but you can go further if you’re feeling up to it. Use makers along the time-lie to break it down into months or years. Plot the various events/feelings that stand out in your mind so far. Put negative events/feelings below the line and positive ones above.
Now think about the future of your time-line. What events, steps or feelings would you like it to reflect? Think about celebrations, birthdays or holidays to help and whether you’d like these to be above or below the line. What aspirations would you like on there, and at what point might it be realistic to try and achieve these?
Use your time-line for direction and feel free to continue to add to it. You may wish to display it somewhere you can regularly look at it.