This article introduces an alternative solution for handling marriage problems that arise from mid life crisis : Spiritual Divorce
Many different options exist to guide relationships through the troubles of Mid Life Crisis and some answers aren’t obvious at all. One option I personally use for some marriages at the point of breaking is to oversee a Spiritual Divorce for a couple.
What is a Spiritual Divorce?
On a high level, it’s a process to assist with a graceful separation between two people. How to teach two people to retain a friendship while taking time to grow.
Spiritual Divorce actually means two different things. The first definition is to approach a divorce with spiritual grace. To grow from the process rather than to fight and diminish in the breaking of divorce.
I actually also use Spiritual Divorce in a second manner: A literal spiritual divorce. A divorce in all aspects except legally.
I marry people as a Taoist priest and as a Taoist counselor I extend the Taoist spiritual teachings to include spiritually divorcing a couple. This process gives a couple a deeper time out, but not a full bloody drawn out legal divorce people fear. Separation doesn’t go far enough, since spiritually people will still felt connected and that leads to conflict. I have added in the spiritual divorce, an option for my clients to take the separation process to an effective and graceful life experience.
I have used this technique with many people to help them move past marriage problems from Mid Life Crisis. I have also re-married couples successfully after they have taken time out with a spiritual divorce. So this process does work, but it also represents one of the hardest transition times a person will ever experience in their life: Divorce.
This option isn’t for everyone, I only use this once out of four times with couples. It’s for those who need a deep and clearly defined process of resolution to start freshly.
I must stress this:
My Taoist Spiritual Divorce process is not based upon a legal divorce and is not a legal divorce. Rather this is literally a “spiritual” divorce, where the partners take from one month to two years off from each other to grow. This option isn’t the same as a full separation either since marriage often has obligations that needs time to sort out. A spiritual divorce is an intricate spiritual process that can give two people a chance to help each other on separate paths rather than fight and kick each other down into a deeper hole of problems.
This is an important distinction. Legal divorce often creates lasting wounds and additional problems that lead to long cycles of recurring problems. A spiritual divorce works around the conflict that often arises from the legal process.
When I spiritually divorce a couple, it’s because the couple requires time to sort out their options and to continue to grow. This option will not work when abuse is present in a relationship. This process will not work if either partner is financially untrustworthy. In either of these two situations you need to move on with a full legal divorce.
Finally: this process requires a guide to help those involved release judgement. As a guide I actually teach from issues that arise during the separation process. Releasing judgement is an absolute requirement in order to remove conflict from defining the process. It requires outside assistance to help remove old patterns from destroying any chance for a better future. Without a teacher, issues quickly become irreconcilable problems, while with a guide problems blossom into lessons used to grow into better and stronger positions in life.
A Successful Marriage Embraces Change
As people change over time, people very very rarely let their marriage change to fit them over time. As a result marriages are often quite brittle and can shatter after two people have changed over time.
People fight over trying to keep their original concept of what their marriage was at the start, rather than shifting the concepts of their marriage to now fit their new life.
People love to follow patterns, it’s amazingly difficult to break out of our older patterns. As a result most people will fight and hurt each other, instead of changing the pattern of the original marriage!
Spiritually it makes sense to be graceful, to allow oneself and your partner to take time to change. To take time off from the marriage and then re-adjust the marriage later to fit each person. This is the process I teach and help each couple craft to fit their life. Without the outside guide… people always rush straight back into the old patterns that ensure a real divorce later.
Is this easy? No, it will be one of the hardest things you ever do in life, and this is exactly why a guide is required to help keep everyone on track, avoid the common traps and to keep you honest with your own changes. People are creatures of habit. Our habits are what destroy the marriage in the end.
A spiritual divorce is a chance to transform and change. But understand because a spiritual divorce allows for change, it truly means releasing the old marriage first to create the opportunity for a new marriage.
Just refusing to accept the old marriage is over, will prevent you in creating your new marriage.
If you decide to follow this process, your chances to successfully re-creating a new marriage are only 50%. But a 50% chance is the best odds you will get when the marriage you have is already over. The secret to this process is actually keeping the odds at 50%. The reason why: is that you are changing and your partner are changing dramatically over the next few years.
Take the time to learn new behaviors and attitudes to evolve your situation into a new Marriage all together.
To make the odds better than 50%, means to be working to the wrong target ideals, based to what is at hand now rather than to what will be later. You actually have to work to the unknown future and introduce enough changes so you and your partner can discover a love for the new people you are becoming thru Mid Life Transformation.
To quote one client:
One day my wife did the hardest thing she has probably ever had to do. She told me that after 18 years of being together she felt that things just didn’t feel right anymore between us. Looking for help and resources relating to a midlife crisis on the web, mostly I found bitter and angry discussions or advice. Nothing resonated with how my wife and I saw the nature of our situation until we came across Casey’s website, Personal Tao. The idea that a transformation and not a crisis was at hand immediately spoke to us as individuals. The essays on his site were the first “sane” things my wife had read at the beginning of this process. She and I contacted Casey independently and felt encouraged that there was something good that could come from all this. Through the guided exercise of patience, being kind to one another and working with a spirit of non-judgement, Casey has helped the two of us maintain a level of honest communication that would have been hard to muster during this difficult time in our lives. Speaking for my self, six months into this period of transformation has been painful yet wonderful. If Casey wasn’t here for guidance and teaching I think this period would be mostly painful. Our two children are certainly benefitting from the graceful way in which my wife and I are handling the big changes in our relationship. I know that through Casey’s encouragement and instruction the two of us will be able to maintain the deepest of friendships that will last a lifetime.
This process works, but it represents being willing to truly change and release the old marriage in order to create a fresh new life. It will be the hardest thing you ever do: but isn’t living a life based on your own essence along with a deeper friendship with your partner worth the work it takes to make happen?