Marriage & Separation (Part 1): Failure versus True Love

by Angela Perin, Brisbane, QLD

When I was growing up (up until I went to high school), I didn’t personally know anyone that was separated or divorced. At the time, I had a notion that all the marriages I personally observed and knew of were ‘happy’ ones… (which included my parents). In retrospect, and as I got older, I realised that ‘happy’ was perhaps not the right or most appropriate word. ‘Committed’ or ‘dedicated’ may have been more apt or descriptive, because it described marriages and relationships that stayed together through thick and thin; separation or divorce wasn’t entertained no matter what was going on in the relationship.

I adopted a belief that keeping a marriage going ‘no matter what’ was a ‘good’ thing; that staying together was a great accomplishment and something to be heralded. The longer the marriage, the greater the commitment and love – or so it was portrayed to be. In contrast, whether expressed openly or not, marriages that did break down were somehow considered a failure, and were viewed with sympathy and sadness.

When I married for the first time nearly 22 years ago, I thought I knew what love was, and I thought it would be for life. This was also congruent with my religious beliefs at the time, and consistent with my experience of the marriages in my family and relatives which were all long term, and where separation or divorce was still largely outside of my immediate experience.

However, from the outset our marriage was not a truly happy or harmonious one, and was not consistent. I have often described our relationship as ‘up’ and ‘down’, and from one extreme to the other. Sometimes it was ‘good’ (or what I thought at the time was good, which in essence meant we weren’t fighting and were working together at a functioning level, and that still looked o.k. / successful from the outside), and at many other times it was ‘not so good’. (Keep in mind that during the total period of our marriage, we have always worked a business together (from home), so have spent a lot! of time together.)

Aside from financial pressures during our marriage, we were both strong individuals with our own opinions, and often fought and argued. We were both controlling, manipulative and abusive in our own ways (both with ourselves and each other) – a point which I really only took responsibility for a few years ago; prior to that I had adopted a ‘holier than thou’ approach, and considered that it was largely my partner who was at fault. Communication was always a problem, and there were many times during our relationship where we did not speak to each other: this was used as a way of manipulating the other person or controlling a particular situation or outcome.

During that 22 year period there were several times when I considered separation. Aside from the physical and practical difficulties in separating (together with our business structure, we now also had 3 children), and although my family supported me as best as they could during these periods, I still felt that separating would involve an admission of failing ‘something’ (i.e. an ideal or belief that I had not measured up to), or ‘someone’ (including myself, my family and my husband). I also felt that separating would represent an admission that ‘love’ had failed and was unable to hold the relationship together. By that I mean, that at the time, I thought I ‘was’ being love…

So even though it was out of a false sense of commitment to ourselves and the relationship, and further ingrained the belief that marriage was not easy, and that it took lots of hard work and courage to ‘stick at it’, we continued to stay together. In fact, I remember many times during this period that my family would comment on how strong I was and how proud they were of me. In retrospect, I can now share in reflection and with honesty that I unconsciously and consciously, revelled in the recognition I got out of my martyrdom (i.e. what I was putting up with) and the drama that our relationship presented.

When I was introduced to Universal Medicine several years ago, I could clearly see and appreciate that there had been no ‘true’ love in our relationship, because there was in fact no ‘self-love’, and that our behaviours and choices within the relationship had been governed by a false notion of love that we had both desperately clung to at the time – and that continued to be reinforced by the relationships around us.

As I began to work on ‘self-love’, this made way for us both to become more truthful and honest about our relationship and marriage, and also allowed me to let go of many of the false ideals and beliefs I had about marriage and separation.

We recently separated, but the beautiful thing is that our decision was actually based on what was loving and supportive for us both. It was not based on an ‘ideal’ that we should stay together ‘no matter what’, and we do not view our relationship as having ‘failed’ simply because we made the choice to separate. Quite the opposite in fact!

Although naturally difficult at times, my ex and I are developing a more loving way to be in relationship with each other every day – a way that is not about competition, comparison or judgment, but a way of being that has begun with ‘self-love’. For the first time in the history of our relationship we are now experiencing and developing a different way to be in relation to marriage and separation, a way that is finally about ‘true’ love…

Part 2: Marriage & Separation (Part 2): Discovering True Love
Part 3: Marriage & Separation (Part 3): there ‘is’ a Different Way
Sequel: My Date with my Ex: Re-Imprinting with Love

303 thoughts on “Marriage & Separation (Part 1): Failure versus True Love

  1. I am learning that we cannot love anyone unless we love ourselves first, this naturally takes away any need for the other person to make up for our own deficiencies, this is when we project onto someone what we want them to be because we are not prepared to do that ourselves. I can say that I had no idea about relationships when I was growing up, just ideals and beliefs gathered from family and friends. What I do understand now is that if we don’t honour ourselves and know our own worth then we will accept less, and that’s when the problems start, by accepting less than who we truly are.

  2. The ‘success’ of any relationship is dependent on how much each person is willing and able to be themselves and bring the truth to the table, as well as the other ingredients such as transparency and rawness and dropping any impositions on self and another. This is a lot to ask in one go as it is not how we are educated or brought up to be with each other, however, any relationship we are in allows us to explore these aspects and learn and grow.

  3. Spot on Angela, Marriages that do not end up on divorce are seen as being successful and those that end up in divorce or separation are deemed as failures – there is nothing about this that looks at the quality of the relationship and actually considers how the two people are – this is essentially what we have made our world to be, but as we know this, it means we do not have to play ball with this and can instead reflect the truth. .

  4. It is so beautifully written, the honesty, the rawness, and the realisation of what love truly is, and how open life becomes when we drop the ideals and beliefs and make loving choices for ourselves. What was truly important here was that the love deepened between you both, not that the relationship structure changed. It’s a truly more successful relationship because more love is being shared, even though we may assume failure due to separation. Thank you Angela.

  5. I remember feeling very judgmental about other children at school who did not have both parents like I did, or whose surname changed. In my own little world, there had to be something ‘wrong’ with their family to explain their situation that was not within my belief of what was normal. When we operate from right/wrong, we don’t allow ourselves an opportunity to feel what is true and choose for ourselves what we truly want, and be understanding of others’ choices.

  6. Marriage is two people making a commitment to and with each other but if true love does not continue to deepen then a relationship can falter and it is more honest and honouring of each other to agree to separate.

  7. So many feel trapped in their marriages because of false ideals and beliefs that do not allow recognition of relationships that need to evolve by the partners going their separate ways and in choosing to do this is a loving manner you are providing much needed role models for others who will be inspired by your willingness to take responsibility for your part and to find a way through that honours both of you.

  8. Relationships are the best way to learn more about ourselves and other people – with all the issues that come up between people, it abounds with opportunity for more learning.

    1. And I will add that if we were to live alone like hermits and not see others and not live with others, we would deny ourselves the opportunity to grow and learn faster. It is a natural part of our nature to want to be with another and in this (being with another) our un-natural beliefs and ideals get to bubble up to the surface faster to be released and let go of.

  9. Angela, you have nailed it in regards to how many in society see separation or divorce as a failure – and this is something that I too saw around me growing up where some women were too scared to get a divorce because they felt they would be branded as failures or ‘used goods’ even if they were in abusive relationships. There are so many stigmas and judgements that exist in our society which makes it harder for people to follow their hearts despite knowing what is actually best for everyone.

  10. Is it not so that most of us have all these false ideals and beliefs about marriage and separation. It is really time to get over them as they are like a prison and never are they evolving us.

  11. With divorce rates so high today, it kinda is an accomplishment to stay in a marriage for so long. But this can perhaps be a distraction away from what is truly needed for each person, as sometimes this can simply be the need for an attention to love.

  12. What we consider to be good in a relationship is so often simply an absence of the bad. A period of not arguing for example. There is rarely if ever any true harmony, but we settle for the lack of fighting and call that a good time.

  13. I love your honest appraisal of your marriage Angela, and can relate to all you have written, as that is what played out for me too. And yes, I can clearly remember, that even though I was so miserable much of the time, I “felt that separating would involve an admission of failing” and failing was something I did not want to do. What would people think of me? Looking back, I can see all the reasons why my marriage didn’t work out the way I had imagined it would, I have let go of all the blame and have taken responsibility for my part in it, and with those realisations has come the release of a huge load of emotions which feels absolutely liberating. Hanging on to the past is so harming to our present.

    1. Equally beautifully expressed Ingrid, and by sharing how you feel, as Angela has, it gives permission to so many others to understand the impositions set upon themselves and to let go of these and just be in the relationship which then unfolds if they are to stay together or not.

  14. It is never about a label a relationship is carrying- there is no worse or more important kind of relation to another, only because the expression is changing, when you split up. The moment the expression of a partnership is not supportive anymore then building a strong friendship, which is evolving, is a great success. Heaven does not care in what relation you are with another- main point is, it is evolving.

    1. Stagnation in any relationship is poisonous and it is only when we are wiling to look at our part in all our relationships that we can truly choose to evolve with each other.

  15. Relationships are there to evolve together and support the other to become constantly more. To leave a relationship would have only one reason: if it would be not evolving anymore to be with that person. Other than that, everything can be worked through/being looked at, if both parties are looking in the same direction. The beautiful thing is, it requires no perfection whatsoever.

  16. There are many ideals and beliefs surrounding marriage, and it feels like many of us are completely owned by them and our behaviour are becoming more binary – either to submit and endure in the name of nearing, if not perfecting, an image; or at any sign of this not working, explode in total abuse, including physically fatal ones, and what is being exposed is how our value is often not based on love, first as an individual, well before in the unity with another.

  17. Rather than consider this a failed marriage due to separation this relationship could be viewed now as an evolving relationship as following what you have shared it feels like there has been a great shift in your relationship allowing more honesty which leads to a greater understanding of yourselves and each other.

  18. The portrayal that the longer the relationship or marriage the greater the love is not necessarily true at all as time is not always indicative of quality.

  19. Many people live in ‘arrangements’ and there is a co-dependency that does not allow each person in the couple to grow and express their true potential. The relationship may appear fine on the outset, but in reality the couple are missing out on a far grander way to be with each other. This is a loss to society where such leading reflections are sorely needed. As we allow arrangements to be the norm, then this means that our standard for what a true and loving relationship is begins to fall, and this then incrementally leads to poorer and poorer quality relationships … and in our current society it is now not uncommon to find verbally abusive and physically abusive relationships abounding. What have we allowed and what are we allowing by not living our full potential?

  20. There is also the aspect of religions and society that condemn a divorce. Not that long ago it was seen as taboo to divorce, particularly for women as they were seen as ‘used goods’ – a terrible term to put down women and say that they are now worth nothing after coming out of a relationship. Women were sometimes ostracized from their families or disowned especially if they were the ones wanting the divorce, and if they were divorced by their husbands they were seen as helpless victims. Always a derogatory put down. How important it is that we change the way we perceive things so that we do not allow such beliefs to cloud our views.

  21. A great example of how ideals or beliefs lead inevitably to comparison and judgement “marriages that did break down were somehow considered a failure, and were viewed with sympathy and sadness.”

  22. Peace in a relationship is not love. It is an ugly form of separation that parades itself as being harmless when in fact anything less than true love is always very harm-full.

    1. Very exposing of how we can interpret words to make things feel OK or acceptable – Peace: an ugly form of separation.

  23. Like you, Angela, growing up I did not know any divorced people and had the same belief that the longer one stayed together was a testament to the love. Even after a number of broken relationships I still held these beliefs and compounded my feelings of failure. By actually being truthful and honest and appreciating that divorce is not failure and instead is the living of the truth has been so empowering and healing.

    1. I also remember when I was a child, that it was super rare that couples divorced and if so it was a very big thing. There are so many pictures and ideals about relationship and marriage we really need to uncover the falsity and expose the lies that keeps us away from truly using the potential relationships offer. Wedding vows represent it in full: till death do us part. What a manipulative, owning, restricting and capturing curse that you say yes to when you marry your partner.

  24. It is completely contradictory to the truth of a marriage to think that it needs to in some way be difficult, hard and void of true love and intimacy. In fact many marry knowing and feeling the beauty of the other person but when life continues that beauty is rarely seen and lived with the other. We then just put up with it thinking it is how our marriage is when in truth it is miles away from being remotely close to the potential it could be.

  25. Tolerating abuse, whether it is self-abuse or otherwise in a way that is justified through some ideal or belief of ‘how things should be’ or look will never lead to harmony in our relationships.

  26. I love the fact that you have raised the issue of being identified by the struggles in your relationship at the time. And I find it interesting to consider – what would a relationship look and feel like if there was no identification gained from it?

  27. Oooh, I recognise so many of those manipulating ways described at the beginning of the blog. When we bring real love back into the equation, we realise that there is no such thing as failure. Life is about learning how to live with one another in joy. We have much work to do to dissemble all the controlling ideals that keep us locked into the manipulating habits and co-dependent scenarios that we often mistake as a ‘good marriage’ just because we have stuck it out for 30 years or more. Real love seeks honesty, openness, unity and connection, not compromise or control. When we take these qualities to heart, there is no failure, just the perpetual opportunity to evolve.

  28. I support it, when two people are not giving up straight away, when difficulties or disagreements occur. But what brings us in delay, is not working on our own stuff and instead keeping ourselves in a loop of accusations and blaming the other, why it does not work. A relationship can only get reimprinted by taking responsibility and starting to live a relationship with yourself. I can speak out of experience and it works. “It always needs two to tango”- if both decide to go this way, a relationship can start to blossom, but if one party is not open to do so, I would welcome separations much earlier and more often.

  29. Could it be, besides all the pictures and ideals we carry about marriage, when we feel to separate, a uncomfortable part is also to feel, that we are not living in our fullness with the other person? That we are not expressing the love that we are and holding back in fact, not giving everything to honour the constellation that is on offer.

  30. I used to view divorce or separation as a ‘failure’ too Angela. But now, I realise how harmful this belief was. I am beginning to see that when love is present, regardless of our relationship status be it we are single, married, separated or divorce, love simply offers truth to all our relationships, including the relationship we have with ourselves.

  31. What you describe Angela is probably what many people do: they see it is as failure to split and consider the fact that they are not fighting as a proof the relationship is working. Nothing to do with true love, but only a way of function.

  32. We all build our own prisons in life with the stories of hurt, victim-hood, martyrdom, superiority, inferiority, need for protection and security that run through our head until the time we take that step back and truly observe what we have set up. It is only then we can navigate our way back to a true relationship with our self that says a strong ‘no’ to that infernal story we have had running; and at last this liberates us to truly see another and their true glory.

  33. I grew up with the same marriage model of sticking together through thick and thin as you did. Being a loyal person by nature this made sense to me. But looking back it modelled compromise, sacrifice and resentment to me as a woman. Although it has showed staying power, it certainly isn’t what I know to be love.

    1. For me it brought in total pressure. It actually amplifies that no one is allowed to develop. Development means constant change and expansion, which includes a permanent new YES to the other partner. You can never predict anyones choices to say that YES also to themselves. So how can you commit to a marriage for the rest of your life, when you can only take responsibility for your own choices.

    2. Fiona your comment about sticking it out and the subsequent compromise, sacrifice and resentment rings true for how we approach many areas of life, toughing out study and exam periods, abuse in families, work, charity and doing good, even sport, by aligning to ideals and giving ‘our best’ through thick and thin without considering if we are loving or caring with ourselves or not. “Never give up” is another common belief that can be part of this.

  34. “We recently separated, but the beautiful thing is that our decision was actually based on what was loving and supportive for us both” – If we give all our power to ideals and beliefs and allow them to rule our decisions, then it’s possible that evolutionary opportunities could be missed. But it’s so important to recognise that not every one of these opportunities appears in the form of a shiny present or how we might expect it to look.

  35. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to separate, and accept that it is not about any fault, but that through separation there is an opportunity to see a relationship through fresh eyes.

  36. When we consider life as right and wrong, everything becomes about success and failure. Yet this is total illusion for none of this truly exists, it is simply about being true.

  37. I remember growing up and what I saw was and what those around me viewed marriage to be. There was nothing about quality it was more of a focus on time spent. I remember dating and thinking once I had been with someone for a few years this is what gave it credibility and not anything to do with the quality. I remember seeing and people telling me how unhappy they were with their relationship and watch them turn back into it and not have anything change. The single most significant change that has been made to the relationships that are around me is from the quality that I bring. Less and less focus on what others are doing and more and more or deeper and deeper dedication to the quality I am bringing all of the time. This is another part to truly appreciate, that life has no end to the expansion that can be bought to the true quality that we are.

  38. We are conditioned to think that walking away from something like a marriage, or changing our minds about an idea that has gone wrong is somehow a failure. This belief can keep us stuck in something that is no longer working and get in the way of making a decision that is true.

  39. So many of us buy into the ideal that being together no matter what is love. This is such a great story of true love exposing the non-love in a very loving way to make way for more true love.

  40. There is no failure when there is love; so separating from someone is not a failure when it is done with decency, respect and love.

  41. Sometimes when the patterns are so strong and cemented between people the separation can provide an opportunity for more love as it can break the pattern and provide a new foundation for relating with each other.

  42. “For the first time in the history of our relationship we are now experiencing and developing a different way to be in relation to marriage and separation, a way that is finally about ‘true’ love…” This seems to be the case for so many people who can separate lovingly. It is as if, by doing it lovingly, there is an opportunity to take the love deeper. This is ironic and yet makes absolute sense. For to be self-loving, opens another dimension to all relationships and finally makes them a 2 way street, where both people are responsible and there is no room for blame. That is when the adventure can truly begin.

  43. I have never found it easy to be in a relationship with a man when I have no foundation of a relationship with myself. I know that I was not settled, I found myself uneasy and unsure. The outplay of that is they all broke down. Yet taking time to understand how to build a relationship with myself and then take that into my relationship with others has truly changed my life – so deep appreciation has to go to Universal Medicine for the programs it runs that have shared those simple yet groundbreaking steps with me.

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