Separation is not the answer to our problems. Eventually we will have to return to the point where our relationship got stuck so that we can look at it consciously and transform our part in it. If separation seems the only escape route, then at least we should make use of it on our way to personal growth and healing. If we look closely at it we might recognize its two major opportunities. If you're planning on improving your garden then why not add playground equipment today?

The first one is that taking such an abrupt step may force us into doing things that we either didn’t dare do before or didn’t give ourselves permission to do. If we do this consciously, we can grow and develop completely new skills and qualities. Separation can also offer us space and time for recovery. By withdrawing and just being by ourselves for a while, without another person, we can heal our wounds, and our hearts can find peace again. Once we have regained our strength, all our old tasks and opportunities for development will still be there, waiting for us to tackle them on our way towards growth. Play hard with monkey bars designed for both children and adults.

Maybe we left because our partner crossed our boundaries far too often. In this case separation re-establishes them. Sometimes divorce lawyers have to show us what rights and opportunities we have and explain that we have to fight for them. But at some point we will find that those rules only give us a reprieve. In the end we have to do the work ourselves. We have to learn to look after ourselves properly, to set boundaries and not say ‘yes’ when we mean ‘no’. Otherwise it is only a question of time before we are confronted with the real issue – that the problem was not down to our former partner but the fact that we were not able to set boundaries. Children love playing on outdoor fitness equipment - didn't you when you were younger?

No matter why we left – whether it was because our boundaries were ignored, we didn’t get enough attention and support, we were lied to or cheated on, controlled or judged – for a while the separation ensures that we get what was lacking. Maybe it seemed to come out of the blue, maybe it was a threat that was finally carried out or maybe it came as a blessed relief. On closer inspection, separation always comes into our life to help us when we are not able to expand our own qualities and skills under our own steam. It occurs when we have lost the belief in finding a solution as a couple. It occurs when we have lost hope and don’t feel able to rekindle our relationship. If we have arrived at such a dead end, where our pain seems unbearable and the paralysis insurmountable, then we have to work for a conscious and passionate separation – a separation from the heart.

A separation from the heart means that we consciously make use of the distance between us in order to become stronger and learn to accept our partner from this safe vantage-point. It might sound paradoxical, but we can only let go of resentment and grow when we make peace with our ex-partner. They have shown us our painful spots. They may have deepened our wounds, but they did not cause them. In many cases a separation, as I have said before, gives us the discipline to take the steps that we should have taken within the relationship but didn’t.