As I began saying, if you take a break in your relationship and you just sit around at home, moping, eating ice cream, and feeling sorry for yourself, you’re going to need a wakeup call. You have to put yourself in your ex’s shoes for a moment. If you had to take a break from a relationship with a person because something wasn’t working in the relationship and you see that they just sit around, waiting for you to come back, you’re not going to feel super inspired right? Simply because you would see very clearly that no changes are being made on their end, so they expect you to step back into the same exact relationship that wasn’t working before.
Now, if you were to see that they took the time to analyze what they need to change, and they became proactive, it would change everything. You would see that this person is taking this break seriously and is using it to lay out a new foundation, and this is what it’s all about. This is why I always tell my clients that the recipe for success when your relationship needs to hit the reset button is becoming the new and improved version of the person your partner fell in love with in the first place.
To illustrate my point, let me tell you about my client Andrew. He came to me last year because he and his wife were on the brink of divorce. They had been together for 12 years and married for 7. They lived together in Orange County in California and had a little girl together. In the beginning of their relationship, they were so deeply in love, they were doing so many fun things together like taking weekend trips to Mexico and going rock climbing, they were so in synch and life just felt like a dream. Andrew had a successful tech startup company, his wife opened a dance school, and as time went on, the responsibilities started to pile up. Life has a funny way of doing this.
Little by little, Andrew and his wife started to have less time for each other. Whether it was their businesses or their daughter, the amount of responsibilities had piled up so much that it was just easier for them to neglect the relationship. Andrew stopped making time for physical fitness, he stopped going out of his way to do little things for his wife that made her feel special, they stopped communicating about issues that were beginning to accumulate… As you can imagine, a disconnect started to form, which then turned into tension. After a few years of this, the relationship was on the brink of divorce.
Fortunately, they both knew that beneath it all, the love was still there. They just needed to take everything apart so that they could put the pieces back together. So they decided to take a break, and this is when Andrew reached out to me for help. He specifically asked me about what to do during a break in a relationship to ensure that he can put the pieces back together. So our work began.
We have to zero in on all the ways that he had disconnected from his wife over the years, and how he had disconnected from himself over the years! This is such a common thing and it happens to so many people without them realizing it. We live in a society where we have to deal with so much pressure coming from all sides, so it comes as no surprise that we begin to neglect important elements of our personal lives… But that doesn’t mean that it’s okay. Sometimes, life hits you with an electroshock like this to recalibrate and set you out on a new path. For this reason, I often tell my clients that a relationship challenge like this is often a huge blessing in disguise. It shines a big bright light on what is not working and it gives you an opportunity to change.
In Andrew’s case, we needed to get him back in touch with the man he used to be at the beginning of their relationship, so that required us to look at all the little things that he had stopped doing over the years. We identified that he had stopped taking care of himself, so he started to dedicate time to exercise again, we found that he had lost track of his hobbies that used to bring him so much joy, we saw that he spent no time with his close friends anymore because he stopped making time for them… There were so many things that he had stopped doing that used to contribute to his overall sense of wellbeing, and this had a direct effect on how he behaved within his relationship.
This was the first step. As he started to use the break in his relationship to make positive changes in his personal life, he started to sense a sizable shift in his frame of mind, his energy, and his approach. This carried over into the next phase, as we began to tackle the specific problems of his relationship…