Go through a separation with focus, compassion and a win-win attitude

When you can’t relate to someone, just move on. There’s no point in clinging on to the relationship when there’s no relating between you and the other person.
A friend has filed for divorce. She’s taken this decision after realizing that she can’t make the marriage work. She says she gave it time and a few chances. But she only found herself growing more distant and disengaged with her husband.
I feel she has done the right thing. Her’s is a classic situation where the relating is missing in the relationship. But everyone, from her family to her close friends, is blaming her for moving too fast to ‘end the relationship’. They want her to give it some more time. Now, this is where people wanting to separate must be clear – society, family, even courts cannot be, and must not be, allowed to decide for you. To be sure, a matter goes beyond a couple and requires reconciliation by a third party only because the two people in question have stopped relating to each other and therefore find it impossible to have a meaningful conversation. So, if someone has decided to move on, they must be allowed to.
It is far more important that you are happy and peaceful within yourself than trying to sustain a relationship, for society’s or family’s sake, that has been dead for a long, long time.
When people with children are separating, they must realize and respect the fact that each of them has a right over the child’s development and welfare. You cannot let your individual differences with your erstwhile spouse drive you to deny that person visiting or parenting rights. So, when children are involved, exercise maturity. Look at the whole situation very practically. Very matter of factly. Here’s a crisp set of thoughts that you must visit: You cannot live with your spouse any more. So separate. But give your child’s other parent as much right as you would seek over your child. Agree on a workable plan involving your child with your estranged spouse. Both of you go tell the court what the arrangement is and get your divorce decree. It is as simple as that.
I guess most couples complicate the process of separation and divorce because they are still hurting over what happened. Maybe they feel rejected. Maybe they feel cheated. Or simply let down. And they want to get even. They want to avenge. Or they want the money – part of the estate or alimony. There’s nothing wrong in feeling angry and sorry with the situation. But can anger or grief help you in any way? There’s no harm also in working on the financial framework for the separation. But why fight over arriving at such a framework. Why be emotional? If you have decided to move on, let the process be shorn of anger, grief, scorn and blame. In fact, take a few weeks off. Don’t do anything. Don’t mediate. Don’t counter argue. Don’t berate. Just let things be. After a few weeks if you still wish to proceed with the separation and/or divorce process, just do it clinically, unemotionally. Consider this: isn’t it better you end a relationship that has drained you than fight over it? Isn’t it better that you and the other person give each other space and dignity – after all you spent quality time knowing each other and living with each other?
Simply, to separate from someone you can’t relate too is the most sensible thing to do. Just don’t make the separation acrimonious and miserable for everyone – especially for the children. Do it with focus, with compassion and with a win-win attitude. The best gift you can give your child is a happy marriage with your spouse. Now, if you can’t give that gift, for whatever reason, make sure you don’t take away your child’s happiness!  
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What is over is over: don’t cling on to the cocktail of hate, anger and grief!

Separations. Break-ups. Showdowns. Desperate but unsuccessful attempts to control people, situations or events. Whatever. They are all over when you stop responding to them. They are over when you decide they are over.
Yesterday, I had a conversation with someone from my family after many, many years. We have had serious issues between us – at least this person once believed that I had cheated the family and that I was not even worth having a conversation with. She suggested to me yesterday that we must make a fresh beginning. I replied to her that while I have long forgiven myself and have forgiven the others involved in this sordid relationship mess in my family, I just cannot forget what happened. And I did not see a need to start afresh. I said everyone’s happy and peaceful in their own worlds – even though these worlds are distant while we, ironically, live in the same city. I left saying let’s leave things as they are and simply maintain a ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ relationship.
It is perfectly normal to have a relationship problem if you can’t trust or relate to the person concerned. However, you need not carry the anger and grudge in you. It is pointless. Understand that whoever is the one that caused you pain and agony has accomplished whatever he or she set out to. The event is over and out. By expressing anger over the episode, by continuing to direct anger against the person who caused you the hurt, you are only injuring yourself. Sometimes, it may not be just a hurt from a word or an act that someone said or did. It may be from a separation that the pain, the grief ensues. And you want to avenge the person’s audacity to have betrayed your trust, that too with such impunity. You seek justice. And your entire being is consumed by this desire to get ‘even’. Because you feel used and discarded __ as if you were toilet paper.
The cocktail of hate, anger and grief can be depressing, debilitating, lethal. You, and only you, can draw a line. And decide not to continue with stretching this episode and story any more. It is best to remember that dwelling on what is past__including the prime, good times, of a relationship, and pining for those times all over again __ is futile. Harivanshrai Bachchan (1907-2003), the celebrated poet, and father of superstar Amitabh Bachchan, says this so beautifully in his poem, ‘Jo Beet Gayi, So Baat Gayi’. Here’s a translated excerpt:
Jivan mein ek sitara tha,/  there was a precious star in my Life 

Maana woh behad pyaara tha,/ agreed, it was most loved

Woh doob gaya toh doob gaya,/ if that star has set today, then it has set

Amber ke aangan ko dekho,/ look at the courtyard of the skies
Kitne iske taare toote,/ how many of its stars have set or broken away
Kitne iske pyaare choote,/ how many of its beloved have been lost
Jo choot gaye phir kahan mile;/ those stars that have set or been lost, where have they ever been found
Par bolo toote taaron par/ but tell me on the broken, setting stars,
Kab amber shokh manaata hai / whenever did the skies grieve
Jo beet gayi so baat gayi/ what is past is past …

It is important to also remember that this law of change is the law of the Universe. Seasons change. People change. Places change. Relationships change. You want to start afresh in a relationship, do it. You don’t want to, as I decided in this case, don’t do it. Whatever you do, don’t carry grudges and don’t grieve. An irrefutable fact about Life is that each new beginning results only from something ending. So, always, what is over is over. And you must just go on, move on!

Be in a relationship only if you can love, can relate and are happy

Don’t just cling on to a relationship for the sake of society – learn to focus on loving, relating and yourhappiness!
A friend of mine is going through a messy divorce. He developed an extra-marital relationship which, quite naturally, his wife objected to. My friend’s reasoning was that he had stopped enjoying being with his wife and found that he related better to his friend with whom he “wanted to spend the rest of his Life”. The three people in this story are in their mid-forties and are neither immature nor irresponsible. My friend’s friend, his lover, is divorced, and has a child; but she says she feels “secure and wanted” in my friend’s company. She’s not insisting that he marry her. All she wants is his companionship for the rest of her Life. My friend too sees her the same way. But my friend’s wife sees their relationship as scandalous and as a conspiracy to “rob her of all her wealth”. So, the divorce has gotten messy – my friend says he’s ready to accept a divorce immediately and is also willing to settle the financial aspects amicably but he simply refuses to allow “an extortion” by his wife. Therefore the matter drags on, for all three parties!
If you distill the issue, it all began with an extra-marital relationship. And I guess if you look around, there are so many of them, extra-marital relationships, going around us all the time. Except most don’t turn up in the open. Even so, why is the polygamous tendency of humans subject to so much scrutiny and scandal? Why is it necessary, from a social point of view, that people suffer in bad marriages than be happy in newer, and even multiple, relationships? If you consider history, man has been polygamous. It is society that has imposed monogamy as a preferred code of conduct. Just as you can’t wear round-neck tees, shorts and sneakers in certain old-world clubs, founded by the British, in India, if you have to live in most societies in the world, you have to be monogamous. But that really is suppressing people’s freedom of expression, is holding them hostage to dead relationships and is, quite simply, killing love and happiness.
What happens when two people come together is that they fundamentally enjoy each other’s company. It is their friendship that drives their being together. They may be different, as in most cases, but they can relate to each other. When that relating stops, one of them, or at times both of them, drift apart. When the drifting happens, they are not just seeking sexual satisfaction in a new partner, from a new companion, but they are looking to be happy with that other person. When they enjoy that other person’s company, they “engage” with that person. It is as simple as that. Now, while in some cases, people continue to relate to each other and enjoy each other’s companionship, in most cases, people stop relating to each other because both of them have changed. Or, at least, one of them thinks and believes the other has changed over time. Which is what is causing the lack of relating between them. Osho, the Master, says that marriage has ruined society. He champions a new world where there is no marriage – but where there are only lovers! This may seem like a radical idea, the way society is today – but isn’t it better having a world full of lovers than a world that’s infested with co-sufferers and broken homes arising from broken, or even dead, marriages?

The bottom-line in Life is to be happy. No matter who is causing you to be unhappy, you must simply move away from them. Suffering someone just to keep your image in an indifferent and couldn’t-care-less society is a grave injustice you will do to yourself. When you move away, or move on – if you will, have the courage to be open about your choice, have the integrity to go through a formal (if necessary, legal) and fair (especially if there are children involved) process of separation and be truthful to all concerned. By following through on your happiness, you may encounter strife in the short term, but in the long run everyone involved will be at peace. At the end of the day, isn’t that what really matters?

Companionship is a blessing!


Companionship is a blessing. And you will do well to nurture it so it stays fresh and relevant.

All of us who are married celebrate anniversaries. For some it is a celebration of togetherness! For some people these are important, beautiful milestones in an eventful Life. For others it is a reminder of a time that ‘once was’. For still others it is stark, sometimes painful memory of a forgettable, redoubtable decision taken in a moment of infatuation. And for some others it could just be a date which is never remembered on time.

 

In a new world, with newer options available for people to seek companionship, marriage as an institution is under pressure. Its relevance too is being questioned. And many people are beginning to prefer live-in relationships because they believe them to be less complicated, call for even lesser (legal) commitment and are easy to get into and get out of. Now, for sure, if the focus is companionship, then a live-in relationship may well be no different from a marriage where the commitment is explicit and bound by a legal, religious and social framework. Even so, let us focus on the aspect of companionship than on the various labels__marriage or live-in or whatever__associated with it that thrive in society.

Yesterday, two friends, sisters, celebrated their late parents’ 53rd wedding anniversary by sending a bunch of roses to chosen couples in their circle of influence. The roses were accompanied by a soulful note that read: “Today we celebrate the 53rdanniversary of our parents. Though they are not with us anymore we celebrate their Life together and send you these flowers to celebrate your togetherness too.” It was a very touching gesture by the two sisters to remember the lives their parents’ led and to share that spirit among people they knew.

This got me thinking. What is it that makes some people’s companionship tick while with others there’s strife, struggle, sorrow, suffering and, as is increasingly common, separation? I can talk from my own experience. And of course from watching what has happened in my circle of influence in the several years that I have been around and have been able to experience and learn from Life. So, I will talk only of what makes it tick than focus on what wrecks it! Invariably the successful continuance of the chemistry between two companions works when they continue to relate to each other the same way they did when they met first. As long as they ‘relate’ to each other there will be no need for them to worry about their relationship. There will be mutual respect, love, companionship and a deep understanding. This doesn’t mean they won’t disagree. They will. This doesn’t mean they won’t have fights. They will. This does mean that they will often disapprove and dispute what the other person is saying or doing, but they won’t disengage.

At least in my over 25 years of knowing my companion, we have never used the term ‘I told you so!’ with each other. We disagree after a healthy debate, but one of us always falls in line with the others’ thinking__still choosing to retain the individual point of view__but we don’t work over time to disprove the other. The other thing which we have found working very well for both us is to appreciate and celebrate each others’ strengths than berate the other’s weaknesses. I have a weakness for being short on the fuse on matters where my intelligence is questioned. I am much better than I used to be before. But I will still fly off the handle when someone__never my companion, other stakeholders do__questions my intelligence by doing a poor quality job or gives a lame, unbelievable excuse for not doing what she or he was assigned. My decibel level sometimes vitiates the home environment. This is a weakness. But my companion has never told me to correct myself in a way that my self-esteem has been affected. Yet she will critique my strengths in a manner in which I feel I must improve further. And that makes our companionship meaningful. We are not just growing old together, we are growing up together. Finally, we keep the romance alive. We rise in love every single time we are together. We treat each other as friends first, soul-mates next and spouses and (in our case, we are) business partners last. So we share, we converse, we debate, we do all the little things we used to do when we met first in October 1987. We keep doing them. So, there is nothing boring about our lives. It keeps the romance alive, fresh and unputdownable.

So, I would recommend focusing on four points to make a companionship memorable:

  1. Keep relating to each other – the companionship then will stay relevant over time, irrespective of what you call it – marriage, live-in, platonic, ‘just friends’ …
  2. Disagree, Dispute, Debate – But never try to Disprove or to say ‘I told you so’ when things don’t go to a plan
  3. Celebrate each other’s strengths than berate each other’s weaknesses 
  4. Keep the romance alive – rise in love every single time than fall out, from monotony and boredom!

Review your own companionship. If you find something missing, try applying this four-way focus. You may well find a companion, whom you thought you had lost, waiting for you where you had a spouse standing until recently! When you do rediscover that companion, you will recognize the blessing in that companionship!