Why are we even having this conversation? Because it's challenging, it's difficult. If you're in a relationship with someone and then a separation occurs, usually that separation is a result of a number of different factors. And you know what they are, right? Oftentimes, it's because there were some difficulties, there were some challenges. Some things came up where at least one party said, “We've got to get some space or some distance here.” The nature of a separation itself is problematic because it starts out with usually a problem or a concern. What if this is someone that you want to still have a relationship with despite the problems?
I work with a lot of couples for example where they have children together. They run into some marital problems and so they separate to try to work on these problems. They have a reason to get back together because they share these kids. Even if they are not going to get back together when parents separate, they still share their kids. There are many reasons to rebuild the relationship after a separation.
I'm a big believer that principles determine all of life's outcomes. I know that's a bold statement. I think it's true. There are principles behind everything. Sometimes we don't understand the principles or we're not very good at applying them, and that's why our outcomes are not what we were hoping for. To get a different outcome, we have to return to principles.
Now, think about a relationship. Relationships are built on principle. Principles like positivity for example. Having shared values having humility and the willingness to change. The principle of forgiveness, respect, love, and compassion. Do you see how these principles support a healthy relationship? When a separation occurs and especially if it's at the level of divorce, what happens during this separation is that people often turn away from the principles that I was just talking about. Instead, they go to blame, anger, bitterness, vitriolic contempt for each other. This is usually because they were hurt. Remember the problems that caused the separation in the first place? That kind of hurt causes people to get their defenses up and they start to go into patterns that are not helpful in a relationship.
I know I'm illuminating the obvious here. That's fine, that's my job. I just want you to see that this separation pulls us into dynamics that are not healthy for a relationship. How is bitterness and blame and anger going to assist you in your relationship? It's not. It's going to make it worse. I guarantee it. But that's where people tend to go when they separate.
I did child custody evaluations for the court for about 13 years at the beginning of my career. I saw this happen time after time. People get sucked into that nasty, bitter, angry dynamic, and they have a terrible relationship as a result. You know what? I know couples who have a better relationship after they separate, after they divorced than they ever had while they were together. How did they do it? Let's get into those principles.
I already gave you a heads up to what those principles are. There are 9 principles that I love to focus on regardless of whether a couple is staying together or going on separate paths. These are the 9 principles that allow you to have a successful relationship. They are the ones we are going to employ now that we are rebuilding a relationship after a separation.
I already mentioned positivity. That mindset is where everything else starts. It includes things like gratitude and positive assumptions about what other people are doing and what their intentions are. I know this isn't always easy, especially in a separation where there has been hurt and problems in some reason for that separation. It's still just as important, probably even more important in this context.
Values are next, meaning your own personal core values. Do not allow the difficulties of the problems that caused the separation to pull you out of integrity. You have values that are important to you the way that you live because of who you are. Get back to those.
Humility, meaning the willingness to change. Because guess what? Relationships are a two-way thing. It always takes at least two people to be in a relationship. If you are half of that relationship, accept that there are things about you that need to change in order for this relationship to be better. That's actually a very empowering thing because this can be better if you decide that it can.
How about forgiveness? The willingness to let someone else change. Sometimes when we get hurt, it's easy to look at someone and assume that they are just a big liar, for example. Okay, are they? In fact, just a big liar. Listen to your words. That's not even possible. Did they lie to you? Maybe. But that doesn't mean they are just a big liar. Delete the word “Just”. Focus it down to behavior rather than character. It allows you to be more forgiving and allow someone else to change. This is very important when you are rebuilding a relationship after a separation.
Respect. Why? Because you are a respectful person. It has nothing to do with the other person deserving respect. Remember we want to preserve your integrity. Do not abandon your values. Have the integrity to be a respectful person regardless of what somebody else is doing.
Love, which in my mind is a choice. You get to choose love or hate. If it's between those two, which one do you want to be known for? Your choice is going to fall on one side or the other. Choose love.
Next up is compassion, which has to do with kindness and gentleness and sensitivity. It's going to work well in a separation just like it would in a marriage.
The next principle is work. Don't be surprised when it's hard. You must put in some work if you want to improve something.
Finally, wholesome recreational activities. I love this one because sometimes, we get into situations in life that just feel like a burden. While you are doing all of the work and focusing on the other principles that we talked about here, make sure you are taking time for recreation to have some fun. Recreation, it literally means to recreate something. What are you recreating inside of your own life?
Those 9 principles are guaranteed… Which is a bold statement. I'm going to stand behind that. If you will apply those 9 principles, you can create and rebuild a healthy relationship, even after a separation. You are not alone in this process. There is so much help available.
If you want more help from me and my team, your first step is to get a hold of my book. I'm doing a promotion where I'm buying the book, you are paying the shipping. That means the book is free to you. Go right now to drpauljenkins.com. When you get there, you'll see a big orange button, just click on that and I'll send you a free copy of Pathological Positivity.