My first husband and I divorced after eleven years. I believed that getting a divorce would end my problems with him. Big surprise! Divorce ended the marriage but not the problems. I took them with me and continued resolving them through other people.
Divorce can give a temporary reprieve though, a break from the emotions and the drama. And space can be helpful for resolving issues, as long as we remember that our problems aren’t with the other person and that our stuff stays with us until we sort it out.
Is separation and divorce the answer? Maybe. We’ve set causes in motion though, and we’re experiencing the results. So our problems aren’t originating outside of us. And to resolve them, we’ll keep attracting people who can offer us the same challenges as the partners we’re thinking of leaving.
Relating is similar to riding an elevator. If we don’t do something different, such as select a new number, meaning shift our consciousness, the doors will open and we’ll get out on the same floor. And the next person we hook up with will likely be just like the person we left.
Only we can deal with our stuff.
I’m still resolving recurring patterns today, through my husband, Ron. When we play card games, he wins a lot, and I tend to not lose well. Instead of losing politely and even congratulating him, I’ve been known to throw the cards at him. We can get ready to play, and make a joke about whether I’ll flip out this time, clearly naming the name of what I do, and it can still turn into a free-for-all.
To have healthy relationships, we need to deal with our unresolved issues. And it won’t work to think, “How can I get my partner to change for me?”
If I had it to do again with my first husband, I’d probably still get divorced. But I’d be smarter and kinder in leaving. Eventually, I got an opportunity to repair some of that.
Two decades after our divorce, he died from a brain tumor at age 56. One evening during his last weeks, Ron and I sat across the dinner table from each other in our home in the Netherlands. I said to him, “I have to go.” And he said, “I know, you have to go.”
So I flew back to America and moved into my ex’s house. He was brave and peaceful to the end. And helping take care of him was the natural thing to do. But the real hero was Ron, in giving me his blessing to go.
Our perfect partner.
We look for relationships that can give us what we need to become whole. But that doesn’t mean that our wholeness is someone else’s responsibility. In the area of relationships, two halves don’t make a whole. Two wholes make a whole partnership.
Getting rid of our partners won’t get rid of our problems. And besides that, we’ve purposefully formed relationships with people who can help us resolve our issues. So our present partners are uniquely qualified to be imperfect in a way that will serve us. In other words, the imperfect person we’re in a relationship with is our “perfect partner.”
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