Heartbreak isn’t a particularly pleasant subject, especially one that entails the end of a sacred union. And even though the divorce rate in America has fallen quite considerably (only 14.9 for every 1,000 marriages), it doesn’t disregard the fact that it’s the death of a dream you thought was going to last.
But what if you could separate amicably? What if you could maintain a platonic relationship with your ex? Is there such a thing as a happy divorce?
If you’re fresh off a breakup, on the verge of one, or healing from old wounds, this concept may sound way out there. But as the phrase goes, nothing is impossible.
“Contrary to popular belief, time does not heal all wounds,” says Katherine Woodward Thomas, best-selling author of Conscious Uncoupling. “We do.”
How Can I Be Happy During a Divorce?
People grow apart in relationships sometimes. It happens. It’s just part of life.
And if, at any certain point in your own relationship, you feel like you’re no longer growing, it’s okay to part ways as friends.
As a matter of fact, good friends are good for your health. Evidence shows that having strong social connections can increase your sense of belonging, improve your self-confidence, and boost your happiness.
“In a nutshell, a breakup is nothing short of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a complete spiritual awakening,” says Katherine. “One that catapults you to a whole new level of authenticity, compassion, wisdom, depth, and — dare I say it? — even joy.”
There’s absolutely no reason why you should have to go from breakup to breakdown. So here are three powerful tips for you to move forward in peace.
1. Identify your future self
When we’re going through a breakup of any kind, we often go straight to the past — it’s something of a defense mechanism. We want to know where it all went wrong, so we look at our earlier traumas and how they impacted us to create toxic patterns and codependency.
Katherine suggests looking into the future instead. She explains, “When we start with the future, what we do is we actually begin to identify with the self of the future — who you are inside of happy love, who you are inside of your relationships being the best that they can be.”
A 2009 study examined individuals’ connection with their future selves from a financial perspective. The results found the participants who felt similar to their future selves accumulated more assets than those who didn’t.
“Most of us can remember who we were 10 years ago, but we find it hard to imagine who we’re going to be,” says psychologist Daniel Gilbert in a TEDx Talk on The Psychology of Your Future Self. “Then, we mistakenly think that because it’s hard to imagine, it’s not likely to happen.”
Seeing your future self gives you a developmental pull into that future. You’re able to notice the things you didn’t learn in your childhood, so you start to see the ways you need to grow.
2. Respect each other’s feelings
“I used to believe that if you go through a breakup, it means going through an inevitable breakdown,” says Vishen, founder of Mindvalley. “I used to believe that if you were divorced, you had failed at one of the core aspects of simply being human.”
To be human is to have emotions. Sadness, anger, exhaustion, frustration, confusion, and anxiety are normal, and your feelings, as well as your ex’s, matter.
A healthy relationship, according to Katherine, is one where it’s a safe space, and both parties are able to:
- Express their feelings and needs clearly
- Tell the truth
- Say “no” without the fear of losing love
- Disappoint the other person without the fear of punishment or retaliation
- Respect and honor boundaries
“When there’s a breakdown, and your feelings are hurt, rather than go into building a wall or cutting the other person off in your heart, you’ll prioritize the relationship, and you’ll reach out to connect and work it out with the best of intentions,” she explains. And contrary to the “brules,” conflict, disagreements, and differences actually enrich and deepen the connection rather than limit it or destroy it.
So as the end of your marriage cracks, you open to your feelings, embrace that discomfort, recognize your emotions and that of your ex, and put the relationship’s health above the impulse for personal protection.
3. Celebrate your breakup, don’t shame it
If you’re familiar with the love story of Vishen and Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani (who’s also the co-founder of Mindvalley), then you may also be familiar with their celebration of the end of their marriage.
That’s right. Like Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow so famously did, Vishen and Kristina consciously uncoupled. They invited their friends and family to join in on honoring the end of their union.
Of course, many people found this bizarre. But Vishen points out:
“Where did we come up with this idea that to be in a relationship with someone implies foreverness, implies that you have to be with that person forever… even if life no longer seems satisfying, even if you’re no longer helping each other grow, even if there might be someone else out there for you who could better accelerate the transformation of your soul?”
For many of us, our culturescape mentality has given us the impression that if our person isn’t good for us, we have to hold onto them while aiming to live an extraordinary life of love and fulfillment. We see it in “happily ever after” movies all the time — the toxic idea that marriage is one and done and divorce should be shunned.
But here’s the reality: it’s the 21st century. Instead of feeling ashamed of your breakup, for goodness sake, celebrate it.
Happy in Love, Happy in Marriage, Happy in Divorce
Yes, a happy divorce will be challenging, and it will definitely test your will. It might be the death of your marriage, but it can be the foundation on which you rebuild your life. And it’ll be worth it.
It’s like the saying goes, “when one door closes, another opens.” One of the doors you can choose to open is to Mindvalley. As a Member, you’ll find guidance for many of life’s quests, including finding yourself to finding your tribe to finding “the one.”
It’s time to create the life you’re proud to live. And you can start here: buy yourself a ‘Happy Divorce Day’ card and raise your glass — here’s to you, your ex, and a happy divorce.