Even though there can be enormous collateral damage from a breakup, the healthiest outcome may ultimately come from the dissolution of the partnership. But before taking on any decision, you’ll want to make sure you are not making it from an externally reactive place.
“Staying in a toxic relationship because you can’t face your fear of a future without your mate will keep you locked in a cycle of indecision, depression, and heartbreak.”
My client Audrey* has been married to her husband Steve* for 25 years and they have two young daughters. She came to me for coaching because she felt stuck in a loveless marriage, yet feared leaving because Steve is a successful attorney who provides a comfortable life for Audrey and the girls. When she asked my advice about whether she should stay or leave, I counseled her that no matter what she ultimately chose to do, she must engage in her own inner work which will help her to see what her part was in the creation of the dynamic of this relationship. I also urged her to refrain from moving into victimization; for from this place, there is no access to liberating herself from the big emotions that are present in a break up.
During our sessions it became clear that Audrey her marriage as loveless because she was completely disconnected from her own deeper desires. Her inability to connect to her own wants and needs was one one of the reasons she did not trust herself to make the right decision about her marriage.
Audrey’s husband Steve was a real “bad boy” who was on the relentless pursuit of fun even if that meant going outside of the marriage. Although Steve’s behavior could have been the focus of our coaching, we dug deeper to uncover how things could have gotten to such a state. Soon Audrey began to realize that it was her chronic disengaging from life that fueled her tolerance of a marriage that did not honor the commitment she was yearning to experience. She also realized that she had not shown up as a mature and engaged Woman in the partnership.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
If you find yourself in a similarly complicated situation, take a moment to find a quiet place where you can bear witness to the feelings and emotions that are present in your body. Create some space to acknowledge your emotional truth. Once you are deeply related to your own inner experience, take a bold step and begin to move away from your thoughts and feelings.
As you begin to untangle yourself from your emotions, get clear on how you may have contributed to the dynamics of your situation. Did you ignore inner knowings at the very beginning that this was not a good match? Did you turn the other cheek and ignore bad behavior, giving complicit consent to the way your partner was showing up?
Resolve to take full responsibility for your part in the breakdown. Of course, when other people behave badly we don’t want to condone that behavior. Still, see if you can start to shift the focus of your attention to what it is you can be responsible for. It is the ultimate act of liberation and self-love when we choose to devote more attention to our own development than we do to others misdeeds.
Move Into Possibility
After you are clear about how things got to where they are, begin moving into a place where you can sense into what it is you would like to have, experience and create in your life. Feel into who you can be, and see your relationships — all of them — as structures that allow you to come into the fullness of your being. Ask yourself three questions:
• What do I want my life to be?
• What is the ultimate contribution I could be making?
• Will I be able to step into the fullness of my being inside of this relationship?
“Honor yourself enough to know that you are worthy of a relationship that supports you to become your most whole and best self.”
Ultimately, only you know what the right decision is for you and your family. Having a process that empowers you to step into inquiry from a place of deep wisdom will help you to make the best decision you can.
*Audrey and Steve are pseudonyms.
Great blog Jeanne! This is such a difficult topic but you make great points.