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

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

  1. There can be a world of difference between what we ‘think’ or are told to ‘think’ marriage is and what it can be in reality. I certainly have transformed my view and experience of marriage, lived from a deeper sense of self and commitment to not just learning together but evolving together

  2. No one can ever be ‘holier than thou’, whenever there is a problem or issue between 2 people I am understanding more and more that there will always be 2 equally contributing forces with their own perception of the problem or issue feeding it.

  3. The longer the marriage simply equals the longer you have been in a relationship together. And the time you have had together in a relationship with another definitely does not define the quality of that relationship.

  4. I find this sharing beautiful, what strength and honesty it must have taken to separate with the integrity that you did and also share it with humanity through this very supportive blog. Things are never black and white and when you share children with someone it is great if you are able to continue to develop your relationship with each other, even if you are separated.

  5. We can get so caught up in our own comfortable life bubble and feel we have got it right, not wanting to look outside or burst that bubble. This was me quite a long time ago now, but when it did finally burst, I was not prepared to feel what I had invested in. Now on reflection bursting the bubble was the best thing that could have happened in the relationship as both of us were accepting far less for ourselves and the relationship and at that time not knowing what I know about myself and love now, it was better to totally let it go.

  6. Staying in a relationship out of duty, not wanting to fail, hanging onto a belief that marriage is for life….whatever it might be, is a way to keep ourselves in the struggle and drama of life so we have an excuse not to take responsibility for our contribution to the whole.

  7. I knew when I got married that it was a bit like when you pass your driving test…you are not really a driver until you practice it…the same with marriage. What it is, I am learning it is about responsibility and being open to love ourselves as well as others, and not making it just about us as a couple but the all and what we bring as a partnership, still practicing and still learning. Being open to what evolves from this is living a life as a student of life.

  8. So many relationships are “governed by a false notion of love” which causes the couple to stay together through thick and thin. But as you demonstrate here Angela, sometimes a separation can be more true to love than staying together in the marriage which is often just an arrangement based on co-dependence. Separation does not end the relationship it can bring the opportunity for a new beginning where two people can evolve without holding each other back.

  9. “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.” I love your honesty here Angela. Feeding off the drama of a situation gives us a sense of identity and we all know the person who is creating one drama after another in their life and revels in telling their sad story.

  10. “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.” It’s extraordinary how as we build self love we begin to realise that our relationship with love before this point has been hugely misguided.

  11. How incredible is it to realise that now that you have separated from your husband there is more love in your relationship than before. It would seem a crazy thought as we associate so much negativity with separations and divorces. It is obvious that your commitment to make relationships all about love first no matter who is the powerful reflection for others to see that there is another way to be.

  12. Many would never believe that you could find true love with your husband after separation. Being around Universal Medicine we are so very blessed to see living examples of this. It’s living examples of how and what self love looks likes, and how self love brings true love to all relationships.

  13. Yes, just because a relationship comes to an end doesn’t mean it has been a failure. In my experience the choice to separate can be made from a truly self-loving place within and reflect greater love in relationship that choosing to stay together can.

  14. Brilliant read Angela, It is so powerful to know and understand that our relationship with ourselves is the most important ingredient in our relationships with others. From here we can speak and act in ways that will support all because we are being true to ourselves.

  15. I have also observed that many couples that have been labelled as being ‘happy’ are only barely coping; frequently, the glue that holds them together are either children, a business, custom or tradition and last but not least, being able to function side by side and making it look good. But function is not love, as we all know.

  16. So many people in the world stay in relationships just so that they could have someone to cuddle at night, somebody to call their husband/ wife/ boyfriend/ fiance… Having a partner makes us feel more worthy, but why?

  17. Reading your blog again is deeply inspiring Angela. It shows that when we realise our relationship is not based on love we can choose to change that. To allow love to deepen we sometimes have to give each other space, understanding and support. Letting go of the images, ideals and beliefs like the ones you’ve shared supports us to make more loving choices.

  18. “….we do not view our relationship as having ‘failed’ simply because we made the choice to separate..” How many of us stay in relationships that are not working simply because of the belief we need to not fail? It is so much more loving and honouring of each other to separate if that is what is needed. The alternative is to cling to a belief that simply cannot support any evolution or growth whatsoever. We just have to be absolutely honest with ourselves and each other and go from there.

  19. Angela we often see divorce as a failure because we try to hang on to a marriage to make it successful and therefore we are seen as successful too. However when we are honest that a relationship is not working, because there is no true love separating or getting divorced is far more honest, and life should be about honesty and truth, not settling for what we believe others to feel or think is right for us.

  20. Everywhere we look the word love has been re-interpreted which has left us to be surrounded and constantly fed the images of a false form of love. Only when we feel and observe from an energetic perspective can we discern the difference.

  21. Isn’t that ironic, you introduced (self) love into your lives, you separated and are now having a more loving relationship. Makes one wonder and perhaps gives one the room to ponder on what basic our “classical” or “traditional” marriage is built on. Is it truly love or is it something else…?

  22. I spent many years dedicated to this ideal of staying together in-spite of the way my relationship was because I had similarly bought into an ideal that was handed down through the generations of my family. But rather than stick it out to the bitter end we have likewise separated, and that has been enormously freeing for both of us, and both the personal development and our relationship has grown more in the last year than it has in the last 10.

  23. Angela, what you are sharing here feels very true; ‘marriages that did break down were somehow considered a failure, and were viewed with sympathy and sadness.’ I remember this as a child, that there was a sense of failure and shame attached to a marriage ending, we seem to have this false idea that ‘sticking to a marriage’ no matter what is going on and whether there is love or not is success.

  24. ‘Committed’ or ‘dedicated’ – these two words are often interpreted to mean ‘love’ in a relationship. Many would say this is love, and that is how you hold a marriage together. For me they are just one aspect of a relationship that complete a whole picture of what a true loving relationship is. These two words give me the feel of how many marriages were held together in my parent’s era. Many priding themselves on the commitment and dedication they had with each other. From my observation many of these relationships were void of a deep love, for themselves and their partner. The commitment and dedication become a way to stay in an arrangement that suits their temporal set up. You could always say, yes, people are committed and dedicated in a relationship, but what are they committed and dedicated to, love or their arrangement?

  25. In my experience self-love reduces the neediness that otherwise expects and demands from the partner to be a certain way. Hence it is easy to blame the partner for not giving what I consider myself being entitled to receive, With self-love we start to let the other be who they are more and more, the same with ourselves, this lays the foundation to meet and see each other for who we are not for what we need the other to be for ones needs.

  26. Beautiful Angela, our measure of ‘failure’ is so limited and what you show is that regardless of the outcome in your relationship, the success of it is abundantly clear. To separate with such love and respect is true success in my book… and you will both thrive as a result. We have a lot to answer for as a society with the number of ideals and pictures we load ourselves with, trying to live up to them and feeling a failure when we don’t. What it supposedly means to divorce or separate is just one of those.

  27. The ‘good’ of “keeping a marriage going” actually shows how much we hold onto ideals instead of admitting the truth of what we live, feel and thus know. Ideals overwrite truth when we need the ideal to give us what we miss.

    1. Yes it is like we pull and morph the ideal to try and make it fit with our lives. Ideals have led me to so much self-deception in my life… wishing things to look a certain way so much that I convince myself they do.

  28. I love the reflection you allow yourself, to look back and see how your relationship was and what patterns you held. It is so important to look back with an open heart to be able to understand and see, to then be able to make different choices.

  29. It doesn´t matter where love comes from or who brings it into a relationship, the moment it enters it transforms everyone involved as in the end and from the very beginning it has been and will be forever about love – unconditional or divine love that is.

  30. “The longer the marriage, the greater the commitment and love – or so it was portrayed to be.” This is a big one! An ideal many of us probable have grown up with and carry. Yet true love and commitment are not attached to staying married forever or doing something per se. True love and commitment is something totally different and sometimes it is more loving to divorce than to stay in a relationship that is not supporting. It sounds pretty simple and logical yet with all our ideals and beliefs it not always is so easy to identify.

  31. Wow – so you guys developed a loving relationship after you decided to divorce. That is very rare – I think it is very inspiring to be able to put one’s pride aside, take responsibility and as a result – establish a true relationship. Thank you for sharing.

  32. A great example in this topic is when couples stay together for the sake of the children. However, if the adults are able to split amicably without drama and emotion, then it seems better to do this than carry on a dishonest way of living that will be felt by the children anyway. If we bring up children speaking to them like adults then they can understand anything, and while there may be a little sadness, the trauma is not there if there is not argument, only a mature understanding that a relationship is not working out but there is still love present in how everyone behaves and considers one another.

  33. So many people get caught in the false notion of love, security, commitment for life etc, when the truth like you say it comes down to self love and from there a true relationship is possible. Something I have been working on to build a true foundation for a few years, and it’s completely different to when I first got married.

  34. This is very interesting to read and feel how actually the harmony in your relationship came when you decided to end it and start making more loving choices. I see many people stay in relationships because it is safe or they are scared to leave or of the unknown but really in that we are not honouring how we truly feel. But then we keep up a picture which is not true and that is the message passed on to those around us – rather than it is OK to make changes and end relationships that are not loving.

  35. The word ‘happy’ is used in a way where it doesn’t really have meaning anymore – what is a happy marriage? As you suggest, possibly one that is more of an arrangement than a true relationship?

  36. So many relationships are based on belief systems and expectations of what love is and looks like… and the behaviours and choices within them tend to reflect this false notion of love at the cost of any genuine true love within them. When the whole world and the relationships within reflect this, it is almost impossible to think that we have got it terribly wrong because it is considered normal. I love that when self love is applied, all the falseness begins to expose itself and what is not true unravels for a clear choice to be made free of the beliefs that once blinded you.

  37. Just because people stay together in a marriage does not make it a harmonious one. I have come across so many people who stay together because they are afraid to live on their own but at the same time are miserable in the marriage. This does not make any sense to me at all.

  38. So many couples stay together because of a belief that they ‘ought to’… and in doing so they are in effect shutting love out of the door. There is no ‘ought to’ in love and when we do heed this and let go of what is not deepening and expanding the love we know so well, our love grows forever and ever more.

  39. Relationships are often under so much pressure, there are the beliefs and ideals about how it should be and how it should look like, the keeping up a mask to the outside world of what we want it to be seen as, the expectations and demands we have because of our own neediness, which is just a result of a lack of fulfilment within ourselves and the many hurts we carry due to disappointment and unfulfilled expectations. Really it is not so easy but the only way as you share Angela is to start with honesty and talk about it the way it is.

  40. One of the greatest traps that I fell into was the picture of sticking with a marriage whatever the situation… this kept my ex-husband and I snared for a lot longer than was healthy, purposeful or caring. To dispense with the pictures leaves us free to make true choices.

  41. There’s so much more to life than being in a relationship. If your commitment is first to live a true and loving life, it makes things pretty simple, and if a relationship is not loving then it doesn’t truly serve you or the principles that you’ve chosen to live by or where your life is heading.

  42. (i.e. an ideal or belief that I had not measured up to) It is an unraveling of the truth when we realise it is the ideal and belief we hold that is the failure.

  43. Its interesting when you talked about this mistaken successful identity in marriage – of commitment and dedication being the keystones to so many relationships. I have subscribed to that, and we kept our marriage going despite long periods of being at odds and unhappy. The strange thing is that having separated we have both blossomed, unlocking potential that has been confined by this dedication to something that was not serving either of us. An interesting reflection….

  44. When either a separation or divorce is not entertained no matter what was going on in a relationship it makes me wonder just how healthy this is for our wellbeing and for everyone who lives in that household – and that just maybe their potential could be better lived elsewhere.

  45. We so often stay together in marriages or in friendships for all the wrong reasons. We do need to be honest about the reasons we stay in relationships and if they are not evolving then we have a responsibility to do something about them. This is always going to mean that we have to go deeper with our own relationship with ourselves first and foremost.

  46. Growing up I only ever saw long term marriages around me and presumed that they were all happy ones so that was the belief that I took with me into my marriage. Some years later when this marriage ended all those long term marriages were still going so I naturally began to feel that there was something wrong with me and I felt like a failure, whereas in fact, I was simply being honest and letting go of something that just wasn’t working.

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