What to expect when you end your relationship

The Separation Coach - Sarah Cole

There comes a time when enough is enough –  and that point is different for everyone. Being the one to end the relationship comes with its own heartache, no matter the reason you ended it.

Making the decision to end your relationship is not a decision that should be made lightly. And very rarely, is it out of the blue. People who have been living with and managing their partners chronic addictions, negative behaviours, or extramarital relationships often put their heart and soul into helping their partner work through these issues, turning a blind eye in the hope that ‘this too shall pass’ and excusing the behaviour to family and friends…Eventually, all this heartache, hope and feeling of being let down becomes too much and enough finally becomes enough; the relationship ends. So, what can you expect if you are the one that calls time on your relationship?

It may have been your decision, but may still experience heartbreak

Remember the old saying ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’? Well, there are many of us out there who will have that feeling when they leave their unhappy relationship. But some of us, carry enormous guilt and heartbreak for not having been able to ‘fix’ the relationship and question whether we have made the right decision. The truth is, even if you were unhappy, the end of something as significant as a long-term relationship hurts. No one marries or begins a serious relationship hoping it ends.

You and your now ‘ex’ will be at different stages of grief

Are you wondering why they suddenly have the motivation to make the changes you have been asking for, for years? Why now, they say counselling is the answer when they balked when you suggested it – all 30 times before? It is likely, they are in denial, one of the stages of grief. If you have made this decision to end your relationship, you have been going through the grief process for a very long time and are now possibly in a state of acceptance that the it’s all is over. You are at opposite ends of the line! They may be shocked at ‘sudden’ end of your relationship. It is said that grief can bring out the worst in people. In this case, it can make communication difficult if you have children and can make negotiating finances tricky also. Having some understanding of eachother’s position in the grief process as well as making temporary decisive arrangements, can potentially help stay away from really messy conversations.

There will be a sense of relief, followed by sadness – and then relief again

If you have been trying to repair your relationship or overcome some significant hurdles within it for some time, you may be surprised that you experience the feeling of relief that it is all over. This doesn’t mean that you value what you had any less, or even that you didn’t care as much as you thought. The relief is simply the weight that has lifted off your shoulders, the responsibility and bourdon you have carried regarding the challenges within the relationship for some time, is no longer yours to bear.

The Guilt Factor

Whether you were the super supportive partner who drove the bus on trying to mend the broken parts of your marriage, or you played a significant part of the reason it broke down, there will be guilt. You may feel guilty for your own part in the breakdown, you may feel undeserving of the assets you have accrued if you were predominately a SAHP (Stay At Home Parent), guilty that your ex is no longer at home with the family – or that your kids now split time between houses…

I’ll let you in on a little-big secret… Guilt was a horrible companion during my own separation. I felt so undeserving of any future happiness simply because I had ended my relationship. I was plagued in my mind by my own contribution to the breakup. I didn’t have any ill feeling toward my ex – I had reached my point of enough is enough. I had done all I could to with what I had to make it work. Yet, I still felt the guilt!

Living with a guilty mindset is no way to be – it impairs your decision making, robs you of your ability to plan for the future and replaces it with a feeling of being unworthy of happiness. Remorse for wrong doing is one thing, but feeling guilty or guilt as a state of ‘being’ is an unhelpful state of mind.

As mentioned many times before, it would be very unusual circumstances for someone to marry with intent to divorce. Most of us imagine ‘forever after’…picket fences, kids, fur-kids, travel, old age…Getting divorced is never part of the plan. So, if you have reached your ‘enough is enough’, roll with the emotions, own the decision, show compassion for your ex’s stage in the process and let go of the guilt – it doesn’t serve anyone.