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

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

  1. 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.

  2. “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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. “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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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?

  19. 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.

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