Boris is a Couples & Relationships Counselor and Psychoanalytic Therapist in Tel Aviv-Yafo who also offers online sessions. He specialises in couples therapy, divorce, sexuality and family therapy.
Last Updated on October 12, 2023 by It’s Complicated
Some things can be easily replaced, but relationships are unique. We build them on love, trust, and we choose this unique person and entrust them with so much about us. Together, we share the present, the past, and the future. Some relationships do not work out. When they don’t, the partners begin to consider and even discuss divorce. In our days, separation has become the ultimate solution to relationship problems. Yet, when separation is looming, can it be prevented by a joint effort? Here are six things to try before separating or divorcing:
1. Initiating a discussion
Communication is a major key to preventing separation in a relationship. When a relationship is ending, one or both partners tend to withdraw, bottle up their feelings, and lose contact, ultimately drifting apart. It doesn’t matter who initiates a discussion as long as communication is present. Trying to prevent separation involves open and honest communication. This includes discussing problems, identifying their causes and effects, and determining whether you can address them together. However, if you find that you are always the one initiating apologies, taking on guilt, and initiating dialogues, there may be an issue with the dynamics of the relationship. This is also something that should be discussed.
2. Transparency and candid sharing
In a relationship, sharing ideas, thoughts, feelings, opinions, goals, things that make you unhappy, natural worries, and pleasures can help you avoid separation. Transparency in a relationship means both partners are at ease with each other and are open to talking freely. It helps both partners reduce misunderstandings by making things clear and paves the road for feeling unashamed of who you are.
When a couple is considering separation, partners may view transparency as dangerous because it potentially provides an opportunity for manipulation and guilt-placing. When cheating is involved, achieving transparency might also be impossible altogether. However, even in separation, respect can be maintained, and transparency can facilitate this.
3. Remembering why you appreciated your partner
When a couple considers separation, it’s safe to assume that there has been a major loss of respect in the relationship, and its value has significantly diminished. The loss of appreciation for your partner, or their loss of appreciation for you, can be a significant factor in the impending separation of your relationship. This might be a good time to remember why you respected and appreciated them in the first place. What was it about your connection that made your relationship valuable? What were the things that allowed you to stay in the relationship and plan for the future? Appreciation and respect go a long way in repairing a strained relationship. They should, however, be sincere, not phony as a means of expressing passive-aggressive feelings.
4. Understanding what still unites you
Separation can lead to the resolution of a couple’s problems, but due to its drastic nature, it is often considered either a last resort or a result of an angry outburst. So, before separation knocks on your door, delivering the news that there are more things that disunite you than unite you as a couple, it is a good time to ask: what is it that still unites us as a couple? The answer might not necessarily be the children or financial bonds. Perhaps you still enjoy joking with one another, trust each other, and feel comfortable around each other at times. Counting the blessings for the reasons you are together might bring back fond memories and offer an answer to the question of whether there is a common basis for preventing separation from your partner.
5. Understanding each other’s perspective
Everyone has their own opinions and perspectives on life and relationships. Separation often arises from dissatisfaction with a partner’s perspective or a lack of interest in listening to and understanding it. Even if separation becomes inevitable, your significant other’s point of view remains crucial to maintain a connection with them. It’s perfectly acceptable to have disagreements and your own views on various life and relationship matters. However, making an effort to listen to and understand what your partner thinks and considers important can become a significant milestone in mending the relationship and preventing separation.
6. Preventing separation by learning to argue
Almost nobody loves arguing. However, when thoughts of possible separation arise, they are frequently accompanied by arguments and quarrels. Even if there are no plans to split, a relationship involves more than one person, and hence, occasional clashes of interests are inevitable. A flexible and adaptive relationship is one that can accommodate different conflicting interests and allow them to coexist, at least for a while. Learning how to handle arguments in a relationship is an extremely important communication skill. Not all arguments can be prevented; in fact, attempting to prevent all arguments is harmful since underlying feelings will simply get repressed. One needs to learn how to argue without humiliating or blackmailing their partner. Handling an argument means sharing sentiments instead of seeking revenge, listening to your partner’s perspective, and communicating your own thoughts clearly — what you want and what you object to.
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