When you’ve experienced a massive breakup or divorce, you start asking a lot of questions, and many of them are not very helpful.
You’ll ask why this is happening to you.
What happened to your life.
You might ask what you did to deserve this.
You’ll ask why God isn’t listening to you and wonder if God even exists.
Actually, some of us tend to ask these questions and then end up writing books about them! I wrote Is God Listening? asking these types of questions (you can find it here).
While writing books may be productive and helpful, asking disempowering questions of yourself is not. There’s no sufficient answer as to why this is happening. If this was a natural disaster, a tsunami, or an earthquake, what can you do? What answers will satisfy you?
Tragedies, natural disasters, and yes, even divorce, happen. Yes, divorce involves feelings and people, but ultimately they occur. Relationships start and end. It is a natural cycle of life. In all of life, we want answers to questions so we can understand the world better. “Why me?” you may ask.
It’s natural and human to ask questions like this of ourselves, but it is not healthy or helpful to healing. A couple of different ways to think about this is to believe that things happen, and sometimes for no reason at all.
There’s no positive result that comes out of repeatedly asking why certain things are happening to you because some of these questions won’t have answers.
The divorce happened because you weren’t compatible, because you married the wrong partner, because you didn’t put the time into the relationship, because of an affair, etc.
It happened for any number of contributing reasons, but the big question of “why you” has no answer.
Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people.
No point in holding the universe responsible or blaming life itself for a sequence of events that resulted in divorce. You’ll just keep swirling negative thoughts in your mind, and wasting emotional and mental energy trying to understand why this happened to you.
One way to view your divorce is that nothing happened for this to happen to you.
Your divorce happened for any variety of reasons, but there will be no answer to why it’s happening to you. Like rivers and oceans and life for billions of years, nature and human experiences is just running its course. There is no reason or explanations needed.
You didn’t cause it, your karma didn’t create it, and God isn’t after you.
Sure, you might have done things that contributed to the divorce in your life, but there’s no good answer to “why you.” Divorce happened like it rained yesterday afternoon; there’s no rhyme or reason other than possibly it’s the rainy season.
There’s no particular reason why you were singled out in life to experience divorce.
Earthquakes happen. Tsunamis happen. Forest fires happens.
Your sixteen-year-old son wants to back out of the garage and drives into your house instead.
Natural disasters and life happens.
It’s not fate, karma, voodoo dolls, or anything else that has it in for you. Life happens like nature happens.
You’re a tiny speckle of the universe who has come into it for eighty-some years and will be leaving it.
Demanding to know what your role is in the universal scheme of things or having the knowledge of why your divorce happened as it did is not going to help any.
If you look at it from a billion-year view or take a meta-view (step ten thousand feet away from your situation), your divorce is just one set of events that unfold.
It’s a small part of a much larger picture. It will be a small part of your life when you look at it globally.
You don’t have to know why it happened.
If you insist on knowing why it happened, choose this message: Your divorce is happening for your greatest good. It’s happening for your spiritual growth. It’s happening to help you become the best version of yourself. It’s helping you become the person you’re capable of being so you can attract the right partner into your life.
If this isn’t a sufficient answer for explaining why you are divorced, then I challenge you to ask yourself more empowering questions instead.
Don’t ask yourself why this happened; instead, ask yourself what lessons you can learn from this experience. What is the divorce trying to teach you? How is this going to prepare you for the future? What is this teaching you about life?
If you start viewing the end of your marriage as a teaching experience and a period of growth, your mind will start focusing on more helpful and empowering answers.
You’ll be looking for lessons and insights to help improve your life.
Another way to focus on the situation is to think about what you can do now. Yes, this happened, but now what? What’s in your control? What can you change? How can you move forward? How can you rebuild a new life for yourself?
By letting go of one set of questions and focusing on more positive ones, you’ll help focus your mind on empowering questions that will lead to growth, learning and moving on.
Don’t like my answer? Want to know where God is and if God’s listening to you? Click here to pick up my book, Is God Listening?
*Photo credit unsplash
I thought it was my bad luck that I kept running into emotionally unavailable people.
The women I met seemed to be closed off from their emotions, wanted to hide them or didn’t want to share them.
This felt odd until I realized that the patterns and behavior I was seeing in women were the exact behaviors and patterns I had seen in myself.
I had a “slam-my-head-on-the-steering-wheel” moment. Oh…it wasn’t the other cars that were the problem. I had to look within my own.
You may also be looking for a partner but this time around you want someone who is emotionally available and willing to commit to you.
Finding an emotionally available partner is more difficult than finding vegetarian food on long stretches of a freeway littered with McDonald’s and Taco Bells.
It’s more difficult than finding a presidential candidate who aligns with your values.
More difficult than finding a yoga teacher who treats yoga like a spiritual practice, not a power exercise.
If you’ve had enough of partners who show up with great fanfare and attention but then disappear within days, here’s what to do.
Instead of asking yourself, “Why can’t I find an emotionally available guy,” approach your search differently.
I’m sharing these insights with you as a guy who was emotionally unavailable (extremely unavailable) and who made efforts to change as well as someone who is looking for an emotionally available woman.
6 ways to find an emotionally available partner.
1) Get comfortable with feelings and welcome in emotions.
You often get caught up with the idea that the right person isn’t out there for you or you simply can’t find the right person.
I’m convinced more than ever that it has nothing to do with the person you’re searching for. You have limited control over that but you do have the ability to make changes within.
One key to finding emotionally available people is to become emotionally available yourself.
Don’t run. Welcome in your feelings. Don’t hide from your emotions. Allow feelings and emotions to come into your life and sit with them. Speak to them, write about them, explore them. Get to know your feelings: the soul-stirring and soul-crushing ones.
If the feelings are overwhelming, talk to a therapist or other professional.
2) Be willing to share how you’re feeling with others.
Share your emotions with others. Share your feelings with people you trust instead of keeping them bottled up.
Share feelings and emotions to reduce the heaviness of both.
If the waves of feelings and emotions are uncontrollable, speak to a professional about them. Otherwise, make space for them to sit and breathe into them.
Know that sharing your feelings with others can be an emotional and spiritual release. It will help you become more vulnerable, encouraging you to get into the habit of speaking your truth and fully accepting yourself.
3) Work on your own emotional wounds and healing.
When you get real and welcome in your emotions, you’re bound to find those things that push your buttons. Your former partners may have pushed your buttons a lot but you never realized they were there to teach you and show you that the wounds were there.
Becoming aware of the wounds is the first step toward healing them. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.
Get curious about your emotional wounds. Go to the origination point. Where did it develop? How did it grow? What triggers this wound today?
Become a detective of your emotional state.
Once you identify and understand your wounds, you can breathe love into them. You can flood them with light. You can shed them with healing thoughts and beliefs. You can tend to them and care for them.
You can find meaning in these wounds, messages for your life and ways to improve your life. You can tell a new story about these wounds. You can fill the wounds with light and share your light with others who are suffering.
4) Get attentive on how your partner handles emotionally charged conversations.
Once you work on your own issues with emotional strength and openness, notice how your potential partner handles his emotions.
Take notes and observe how your partner responds, reacts and manages his emotional well-being.
Either accept your partner for where he is or don’t accept him. You have that choice but don’t deny or resist the place he’s at.
He’s not necessarily going to change, improve or become the person you want emotionally. And likely, it’s not going to happen overnight.
Become observant. Accept him for where he is and decide if this is going to work for you. Or not work for you.
5) Let your partner know what you’re looking for.
If it’s not working for you, let your partner know what you need from him.
Communicate instead of hiding your emotional needs.
Instruct him, if necessary. Show him what you need from him. Make a request as to what you need from your partner.
Do not bottle up your emotional needs or believe your partner will understand what you want without your saying it.
Speak out your emotional needs. Your partner cannot predict, guess or use telepathy to understand what your needs are.
6) Be willing to let go of relationships that don’t serve you emotionally.
Often we are so terrified of being alone that we would rather put up with anything than break off an unhealthy relationship.
You have a choice: be miserable, unhappy and unloved. Or take your emotional well-being into your own hands.
Find someone who is going to be there for you emotionally.
Let go of being imprisoned by someone else’s emotionally unavailable chains.
By letting go of an unemotionally available person, you give him the opportunity to start working on his emotional needs and opening up.
You also clear room in your life to invite in more emotionally available partners.
* “You can’t be with the right partner when you’re with the wrong one” *
No one teaches us about marriage or relationships.
No one shows us what good communication looks like or gives us the recipe for successful couples.
We stumble down this path of relationships in the dark.
I found myself without role models and with a dysfunctional past. People showed me love in hurtful ways and I did not know what a healthy relationship looks like.
On the way up the graduate school and professional ladders, we don’t learn the skills we need for the most important things in our lives. No one teaches us how to speak, listen, request, forgive or let go.
How do you become a good doctor? You go to school for it.
How do you become a good cyclist? You ride a lot.
How do you become a better lover in relationship?s Trial and error. Lots of experiences in the name of failure. Breakups. Divorce.
What a way to learn, huh !?!
To improve our relationships, we first have to realize that we don’t know anything about them. IF you grew up in dysfunctional ones, you have to admit that you know only what a dysfunctional relationship looks like.
There is no shame in learning. We learn in every other area of our lives, so why not sit down and study relationships? Why not figure out how to communicate and love another person?
There is a better way to communicate than through complaints, put-downs and negativity.
In this excellent book, The New Rules of Marriage, author Terrence Real outlines 5 ways to improve your communication. I wrote about this book last week and here’s part 2 of what I learned from this book.
Here are 5 winning strategies to become a better lover.
1. Shift from complaint to request.
Complaining rarely or never gets you what you want. Don’t criticize your partner for something they did in the past; instead, ask them for what you want in the future. It takes more courage, and we’re not used to asking for what we want in relationships because complaining is easier and asking poses the threat of rejection. Yet Real tells us that asking is a more empowered way of being. For women particularly, “self-assertion can trigger feelings of shame and guilt. They must learn that pleasure and honest connection are gifts and birthrights.” Real writes that asking for what you want is the only way your partner will be able to meet your needs.
2. Speaking out with love and savvy.
Always remember that the underlying goal of communication is to speak and be effective with the person you love. The goal is to strengthen your bond and relationship. “He is someone you love. Someone you’ve pledged your life to. At the very least, recall that he’s the person you have to live with.” Keep this goal in mind and ask yourself what your communication will do. Think about what you’re going to say – will it bring you closer together or take you further apart? Help your partner feel empowered, not helpless. Talk about what happened during a particular event, then talk about what you have decided about it, how you feel about it and what you would like to happen in the future. Speak to solve the problem and avoid it in the future, not to hurt and embarrass your partner.
3. Respond with generosity.
Before responding, you have to master the art of listening to your partner and understanding where they are coming from. Don’t argue or go for being right – go for harmony and repairing the conflict you’re both experiencing. After listening, you have to understand where your partner is coming from. The rule that Real describes is “understanding builds empathy, empathy builds compassion, and compassion ends combat.” Once you hear your partner out and understand what they are saying, acknowledge what they are saying as much as you can and show accountability. The final part of responding is to respond generously to as many of your partner’s requests. Find something to give to your partner and agree on sincere actions you will take in the future.
4. Empowering each other.
How can I help you give me what I want? Treat your partner as your teammate. “Repair demands that both partners ask: What can we do to work as a team? How can we face challenges life throws at us and the challenges we present to each other in a practical way?” How can you help each other? How are you going to help each other feel loved and fulfilled? Work together on a plan to help each other get what you want.
Cherishing is what you do after you’ve agreed on what you’re going to do to resolve the conflicts between both of you. You have to cultivate your capacity to appreciate and enjoy the pleasure of your relationship. To cherish, you have to acknowledge your partner’s progress and demonstrate, through your actions, a desire to return the favor and be pleasing to them. Let them know that you appreciate them, encourage them for improvements and thank them for doing those things you asked for.
Ready to become a better lover? Or to learn the new rules of marriage so you can transform your relationship? Pick up The New Rules of Marriage today.
“We are drawn to people whose issues fit perfectly with our own in a way that guarantees a reenactment of the old, familiar struggle we grew up with.” Terrence Real, The New Rules of Marriage.
As someone who was married for nearly a decade, I went through the ups and downs of marriage.
The downs were really down and took me through these 5 terrible behaviors that people commonly engage in during a marriage.
I felt terrible when I read about these behaviors in the book, The New Rules of Marriage.
What the heck was I thinking?
How could I have committed all 5 of these harmful behaviors when I was married? I started getting angry with myself all over again for having been so lost, blind and hostile.
I would never treat anyone else I know like this, so why my ex?
The New Rules of Marriage hit me in the gut and awakened thoughts of unpleasant behaviors from my past. I didn’t realize they were common and showed up in all troubled relationships.
If you’re still married, I’m bringing this up to remind you that these are unhealthy behaviors that you don’t have to engage in.
If you’re divorced, you’ll remember these behaviors as a wake-up call for your next relationship.
I’ve tried to get over the shame and to stop beating myself up for these negative behaviors. I’m reminding myself that I did the best I could and now self-awareness will help going forward.
5 harmful behaviors to avoid in your marriage.
1. Needing to be right.
If you’re married, you know this one all too well. You want to be right and you refuse to see it another way, for both the small and big things. You may be factually right but being right isn’t the point. You could win the battle but make your spouse feel lousy about themselves and therefore lose the war.
Solution: “The only sensible answer to the question ‘Who’s right and who’s wrong?’ is ‘Who cares?’” Real tells us in his book. We can be right or we can be married – which matters to you more? “I want you to do this: Understand that the need to be right eats away at intimacy, no matter what the provocation. You can make a commitment to stop self-righteous indignation, no matter what the provocation.”
2. Controlling your partner.
We try to get our partners to do what we want them to do. Some do this by force and others by manipulation, but both essentially try to get their partners to behave in a certain way. Real tells us that we naturally feel attraction to people who have a way of pricking our deepest wounds and childhood pains. He tells us that we marry our unfished business. Even the best relationships bring up every hurt and anger you carry inside.
Solution: You don’t have to avoid the raw parts of yourself in a relationship. You can handle and heal the raw parts of yourself, but not in the way you imagined. Your instinct might be to change your partner and get them to behave. “Our understable, naïve and utterly dysfunctional dream is that our partners will give to us whatever we most missed in our childhoods, that we most yearn for now as adults.” Control is an illusion. You can heal and change only yourself, not your partner.
3. Criticism and negativity – giving your partner a piece of your mind.
“Hey, let me tell you in precise, lurid detail just exactly how miserable you made me by your shortcomings. I need to vent!” is the idea that Real describes with what he calls “unbridled self-expression”. It’s telling your partner in brutal honesty what you think of them. If you somehow don’t put it all out there, you feel like you’re suppressing and hiding your true feelings.
Solution: Real says that, “you will not die if you don’t express yourself whenever a thought pops into your mind. Furthermore, venting is not an inalienable right. You can vent or you can move toward a solution.” Find a more thoughtful and careful way to express what you want to say. Try constructive, not critical, self-expression. Realize that telling your partner how horrible you think his/her behavior is or what a horrible person he/she is will not help you get closer or solve any problems.
Who doesn’t love to get even or push your partner’s buttons after you’ve been injured? It’s the idea of thinking of yourself as the victim and hitting your partner harder emotionally than he/she pushed you. Often retaliation comes across as verbal abuse: “humiliating, ridiculing, telling your partner what he should or should not do – these are all aspects of verbal abuse, and they have no place whatsoever in a healthy relationship.”
Solution: Either of you should call a “time out where the arguing comes to an immediate stop. You disrupt the interaction and one of you leave[s] it so there is no further harm done. Check in within twenty minutes or a couple hours or even half a day and see if you each need more time or if you can have a conversation in a more civil manner. “Make a commitment to take retaliation – physical and verbal, direct and indirect – off the table. If you’re mad, say so, but don’t act it out,” advises Real.
You can withdraw from a conversation or even completely from the marriage. Withdrawal is a passive-aggressive form of retaliation. You withdraw from certain or all aspects of the relationship – intellectual, emotional, physical, sexual and spiritual. You withdraw to avoid conflict, when you’ve given up or when you find it pointless to engage any further in the relationship.
Solution: This is the most blatant strategy that results in your not getting what you want because you’ve stopped trying. You can’t get what you want from a relationship by withdrawing from it. Instead of a unilateral, provocative drawing away, you can opt for responsible distance taking. Provide an explanation for why you don’t want to engage in the conversation now and promise to return to it later, providing a specific time to address the concerns.
You need your space while still remaining accountable and responsible in the relationship. You don’t want to sever ties with your partner. You want to find a way to work it out, have your needs met and be fulfilled.
There are new rules of marriage in the modern age. To deal with all of the marriage-breakers above, pick up The New Rules of Marriage, by Terrence Real, for tips and strategies for articulating your needs and wants, listening well, standing up for yourself and knowing how to seek outside help. You can pick up the book on Amazon here.
Hi, I’m Vishnu
I’m a writer and coach who helps people overcome devastating breakups and divorces. Instead of moving to the Himalayas, people find healing, clarity, and direction here. Learn more about me here.
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