Love may indeed make the world go ‘round, but when you’re going through a breakup or divorce, it can feel as if your whole world has ground to a halt. There are few experiences in life more painful than separating from someone you once loved. Perhaps you still love them. Nevertheless, when a relationship simply is no longer working, ending it is often the best and healthiest thing you can do both for yourself and your partner.
However, separations can be a long and arduous process. You have to deal not just with the logistics of building a new life apart from your former spouse or significant other, but you also have to contend with the immense and inevitable emotional baggage.
This is why you need to establish firm, clear boundaries from the outset. Good boundaries will help support you as you transition into your new life and identity.
Why Boundaries Matter
Given everything you must deal with when you’re going through a divorce or separation, it can feel as if drawing and protecting personal boundaries is a task you just don’t have the physical or emotional energy to undertake. It may seem easier to simply let your ex do what they’re going to do — to go along to get along.
Such an attitude, though perfectly natural and understandable, is also profoundly detrimental to your well-being and best interests. You will, perhaps, never be more vulnerable than during this transitional phase. Vulnerability calls for an increase in self-care activities.
Establishing personal boundaries is, in fact, the most important form of self-care. Boundaries require you to define and claim your right to the things you need, want, and expect from others — particularly your ex. These guidelines are put in place to protect you from the things you do not want and will not tolerate in your life. Boundaries, in other words, help you build your life on your own terms, not on someone else’s.
Clarify Values, Goals, and Expectations
When you have been with someone for a long time, it can be easy to lose yourself in the life that your partner has created. This life likely reflects their needs and values rather than your own. You may not even realize that your life has been subsumed in your partner, that you are living someone else’s vision. You may only know that you’re unhappy in your life and relationship, that your friends and family members are urging you to make a break, or that you find yourself avoiding your partner rather than running to them.
What this signifies, above all, is that somewhere along the way, you have allowed your personal boundaries to fall by the wayside. Your relationship has encroached upon and undermined your truest self rather than enhancing and uplifting it — as should be the case.
This means that the first order of business is to take a personal inventory. Conduct a sort of internal moratorium, figuring out how you want your life to look and what you need to do to bring that vision to fruition. Hiring a life coach can be an ideal way to help you gain the clarity you need as you embark on this new phase of your life. Once you have gained some perspective on your life and future, you will be better able to define where your boundaries lie and what you must do to enforce them.
Create Your Own Space
Perhaps the most difficult step in separating from your former partner is that of actually leaving. It can be tempting to use any excuse you can find to delay this inevitably, from the high costs of housing to the lack of time to make the move.
However, it’s physically, emotionally, and psychologically impossible to maintain good personal boundaries if you are still living with the person. You simply can’t disentangle yourself from them if you’re still sharing a home. Even if you have to crash on a friend’s sofa or rent an efficiency apartment for a while, it’s imperative that you take a deep breath, start ticking items off your moving checklist, and get out of your shared home as soon as possible.
When you’re going through a separation, especially if you’re married and pursuing a legal separation or divorce, there’s often a good deal of red tape to take care of. Legal proceedings often require a tremendous amount of paperwork. Unfortunately, if you’re struggling to keep emotional and physical boundaries in place, paperwork can serve as a convenient excuse to meet up with your ex. This can only prolong and complicate your healing process.
If you want to truly move on with your life and preserve those critical boundaries you’re establishing, then it’s important you do all you can to minimize contact with your former partner. For example, it’s simple now to complete paperwork online, including electronically signing and filing legal documents.
Divorce and separation are among life’s most challenging transitions. However, the change can also be one of the best decisions you have ever made for your life and future. Nevertheless, to make the process a successful one, you need to create and maintain strong personal boundaries.