by Tara Eisenhard~“I deserve better,” a man affirmed to me. He was consoling himself, as so many do, to get through the extreme pain after divorce.
He desperately needed support, and I wanted to validate him. Yet, I bit my tongue before concurring.
In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz cautions the reader to “Be impeccable with your word.” Standing in front of that man, I needed to choose my words carefully. If I agreed that he deserved “better,” the implication would be that his ex is “worse,” and I don’t believe in healing through hating.
“You deserve to have your needs met,” I told him. “And so does your ex.”
When a partnership breaks down, individuals can lose their homes, friends, income and sense of identity. As a result, they scramble to pick up the pieces and stop their world from spinning. The process typically involves a lot of pain, shame and blame as they go to war with each other in an effort to preserve their own self-confidence.
“I deserve better!” becomes the battle cry of those determined to move on and find a more suitable mate.
It sounds like a positive affirmation. The phrase conjures up images of sunshine and happiness— a light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s a rather polarizing pairing of words which, at its core, pits good against bad.
Is your ex really so bad? Think before you answer. After all, you chose to spend your life with that person, and s/he chose you. You created beautiful children and shared countless happy memories together.
I don’t like to think of people as good and bad. The fact is that we’re all wonderfully unique individuals. Sometimes those differences attract and other times they repel. As we move through life, our needs can change. And since we’re each responsible for our own happiness, we need to occasionally make the difficult choice to change our relationships.
It’s not good, and it’s not bad. It just is.
You don’t deserve “better.” You deserve “better for you.” You deserve to be in a relationship that meets your needs (whatever they might be). And your ex deserves the same.
Healthy healing takes a little more work than simply hating your ex, but it’s worth it in the long run. Instead of generically proclaiming to do better next time, ask yourself what that means:
What was it about your old relationship that didn’t suit you?
Did you suffer as a result of infidelity? Did you desire others outside the partnership? Did you have enough time to yourself? Were you alone too much? Did you and your ex differ on matters pertaining to religion, politics, childrearing, etc?
Perhaps you thought everything was wonderful, and the separation was a surprise. That’s OK too. For whatever reason, your ex’s needs weren’t met within your relationship. That doesn’t make you a bad partner.
Are you a monogamous or polyamorous individual? Do you need a partner who will give you more, or less, personal space? Do you need a relationship that requires a certain style of communication?
By asking these questions and determining your personal needs, you can create a list of deal makers/breakers to guide your choices when you’re ready to start dating again. This practice can also help you to cultivate compassion and let go of your ex. When we can realize the ways in which a partnership wasn’t healthy or productive, the resentment dissolves and the end of the relationship becomes easier to accept.