No boyfriend or husband – no matter how awesome he is – is your reason for living. Here’s how to build a life outside your relationship, to help you step forward in joy and confidence. Love and peace. Hope and passion. Faith and freedom!
In Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want, life coach and bestselling author Martha Beck shares a simple and remarkable path to the most important discovery you can make: the knowledge of what you should be doing with your one wild and precious life. It’s the thing that so fulfills you that, if you knew what it was, you’d run straight toward it through brambles and fire. “It isn’t necessary to know exactly how your ideal life will look,” she writes. “You only have to know what feels better and what feels worse…Begin making choices based on what makes you feel freer and happier, rather than on how you think an ideal life should look. Feel your way towards happiness.”
I was inspired to share these tips for building a life outside your relationship because of a reader. She feels neglected and unloved by her husband; he feels smothered and overwhelmed by her. “I don’t have friends,” she says in response to 5 Steps to Overcoming Insecurity in Your Relationships. “I’m an introvert and don’t need many to begin with, but he has systematically destroyed every friendship I have developed over the last 10 years. And he gets angry with me for not having friends to fill the emotional needs I expect him to fill. How can I make a life without relying on him all the time?”
You – and me, and she – need to take time to think about building a life outside your marriage. Your husband can’t meet all your needs, and it isn’t fair to expect him to. Learning how to build a life outside your relationship doesn’t mean you have to leave your husband, create an entirely different routine, or shut him out of your life. Building a life simply means creating a healthy, strong relationship with yourself, so you don’t look to your partner to make you happy.
How to Build a Life Outside Your Relationship
What do you want out of life? Who do you want to be? What do you need to be that woman? If you’re in the habit of expecting your husband or boyfriend to build a life for you, then you need to look away from him and start looking at yourself.
The first step is to take time to look upwards and inwards. You don’t necessarily need to figure out what to do with your life, but you should listen to that still small voice. What are your passions, interests, dreams? Those things aren’t random…they’re you’re calling.
1. Think about your purpose in life
I recently wrote an article for alive magazine, and interviewed life coach Lynda Monk, MSW. She described the importance of core values, and shared her life purpose.
“My purpose is to live my best life through doing and being everything I can do and be,” she says. “My purpose is to live aligned with my core values and honour my higher purpose, which is to inspire others to care for, know, and grow themselves in order to be healthy and happy. My commitment to self-care and personal growth allows and supports others to be catalysts and examples for the same in others. In short, my life purpose is to cause a positive ripple effect.”
How does Lynda do this? She founded Creative Wellness.
2. Don’t compare your life to others
It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, especially if you’re new to the thought of building a life outside your relationship. Know that there will always be women who seem like they’re doing more than you – and there will always be other women who look at you and think you’re accomplishing more than them. Don’t entangle yourself in comparisons.
3. Take a second look at your job
If you work outside the home, take a look at what you’re being paid to do. Do you enjoy your work? Are you earning what you’re worth? Maybe it’s time to go back to school, rewrite your resume, or look for a whole new career. This is how you build a life outside a relationship: you think critically about your work and career.
4. Contribute to something bigger than you
You’ve heard how fulfilling and healthy volunteer work is, but you’re not doing anything to contribute to a worthwhile cause. Or, your volunteer work has become stale or meaningless. It’s time to put your talents and skills towards something you believe in! This is one of the best tips for building a life outside your relationship: get involved in something meaningful.
5. Practice being true to yourself
A recent study found that being true to yourself when you’re in love is the best way to increase romance in your relationship. College students who reported being more true to themselves also reported more positive dating relationships. This study found that both men and women who reported being true to themselves also behaved in more intimate and less destructive ways with their partners. They felt that their relationships were more positive, and they reported greater feelings of personal well-being.
6. Connect with God or your Higher Power
The only source of peace, love, joy, and happiness is your Creator. Do you have a spiritual connection with God? It’s as easy as closing your eyes and opening your heart. If you want to learn how to build a life outside your relationship, make peace with Him. I believe this is the single most important tip on building a life outside your relationship.
7. Live with the end in mind
I’m reading the book Lasting Words: A Guide to Finding Meaning Toward the Close of Life by Claire Willis. I haven’t been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, but I want to build a life of meaning and purpose – and this book is helping me so much! If you want to find peace and happiness, live with the end of your life at the front of your mind.
This is what Claire told me, in a recent email: “Last week I was leading a writing workshop for people with cancer in the inner city,” she says. “The suffering in the room and the stories of tenacity and endurance under extremely difficult circumstances of poverty and racism were palpable. But what was more palpable was the incredible faith in God that carried the people in this room towards a purposeful life. Their religion not only sustained them, but it was their purpose in living – to praise and serve God in the ways that they perceived that call.”
8. Experiment with different types of hobbies
Okay, back to the practical tips for building a life outside your relationship…
When was the last time you played a musical instrument? Adopted a dog or cat? Took a pottery, painting, publishing, or pie-baking class? If you’re struggling to find the purpose of your life, just do something for now. Anything. See where it takes you.
If you’re completely stuck and have no idea what to do, think back to what you loved to do when you were a kid. Ballet, drawing, coloring, dancing, painting, building stuff, fixing stuff, deconstructing stuff?
You will build a life outside your relationship if you remember who you were when you were at home as a child.
9. Take care of your physical health
At the beginning of my tips on building a life outside your relationship, I shared an excerpt of a reader’s email. Here’s more of her comment: “I don’t know what to do, and I am so exhausted and utterly filled with resentment. But I’m still in love with him. It’s not that I can’t imagine my life without him, it’s just that I don’t want to. It breaks my heart. But what can I do when he won’t chip in and help fix things?”
She can’t do anything to make her husband help save their marriage, but she can take care of herself. She can find ways to build her life outside her relationship – activities that give her strength, joy, peace, and energy.
May you connect with God your Creator, or a source of Higher Power. May you be filled with strength, energy, love, and peace. May your life be built on a solid foundation – not your marriage, but something Greater that can never be shaken, trampled, or destroyed. May you choose to walk beside God all the days of your life.
For more inspiration and encouragement, read 5 Ideas for Creating a Better Life.
I welcome your thoughts on these tips for building a life outside your relationship. I can’t offer advice or counseling, but it might help to share how you feel and what you’re experiencing. And remember: those things you’re passionate about? They’re not random. They’re your calling. May you build the life you dreamed of when you were a little girl.
Is your relationship in trouble? Get free advice and a free marriage assessment from marriage coach Mort Fertel.