The rules of separation are simple. Be fair, be strong, be understanding. Unfortunately, some people don’t follow these rules and make separation doubly hard. But if you really want to make a separation work, you at least must resolve to follow the rules. Maintain your own integrity, no matter what the provocation.
Rule 1: Be Fair. By separating, you are dividing a life that was one into two. One house, one common goal. Be prepared to give a little on the tedious business of Mine and Yours. While it is just and right and proper that assets equally gained should be equally shared, allow your ex the dignity of retaining what he or she alone was responsible for acquiring, whether that be material goods or public respect.
While you will need counsel, hopefully from people close to you, listen to yourself when speaking of your ex. Speak only the honest truth as you know it. Do not embroider or mislead anyone else about your reasons for the separation. If you have instigated it, accept that responsibility, and make your reasons clear. If they are good to you, that is all that is required.
If there are children involved, then the requirement to be fair becomes crucial. Unless your ex behaved in an unacceptable way toward the children, acknowledge that they have a right to be able to continue their relationship. It is only fair to accept your reasons for the separation are your own – you may divorce your ex, but the children will not. If you can look at the situation with integrity and see no reason why the children should not be with their other parent, work toward a solution that will allow access and maximum consolation to all concerned.
Even if your ex decides to use the children against you, maintain your integrity and do not stoop to similar tactics. Be fair in their presence (you can rage when you are alone or with someone you trust). Integrity shines through. Never doubt that.
Rule 2: Be Strong. You will need to be strong, for separation is rarely easy. You and your ex may be wounded, worn out from years of conflict or simply angry over perceived betrayal. The friends you have in common may feel themselves obliged to take sides, and people you thought held you in high regard may show their preference for your ex.
Do not be afraid to ask those who stand by you for advice and support. Some of them may have gone through similar experiences, and be glad to share their insight. When a hand is offered, grasp it. But think of this as only a way to make you stronger, not dependent. When a dream is shattered, the temptation to curl up in a ball and cry is irresistible and you may do this for a while – but make up your mind that you will give into the grief of a broken dream once only, then you will stand and fight to retain yourself and find your own dream.
Rule 3: Be Understanding. People may drift away, your ex may make life difficult, your children may blame you. All you have is your own sense of what is right. But don’t be blind to the pain of others. Understand that they will have these feelings, and that their hurt and bewilderment may be directed at you.
Time, it is true, is a great healer, but not if a wound is allowed to fester with no healing power given to it. As in everything you do, your own integrity and sure knowledge of what is right for you is the balm you will use to heal the hurt. Remain steadfast in your love of those who may be bewildered by the separation, understand that they cannot see into your heart or mind. Understand that it will take time in some cases to adjust to a totally new situation. But if you are fair, strong and understanding, they will come to see that while one relationship in your life has changed, theirs with you, and with your ex, need not change.
Three simple rules, hard to follow but in the end, sure to heal the past, as long as there is genuine goodwill.