The Divorce Referendum: Brexit and Relationships

12/07/2016 12:23 | Updated 12 July 2016

The results of the EU referendum has certainly shaken the UK. The ripples are global. It's a subject that I want to talk about, shout about, get mad about and at the same time I want to hold my tongue, keep my head down, avoid the news and hope that by some miracle we can be reconciled.

As a relationship and leadership coach this feels like the equivalent of asking a whole bunch of people you don't know to vote as to whether you should stay married or not. There is no trial separation. Their result is final. You might be going through a rocky patch but that's no reason to give up or abdicate responsibility.

Brexit has aroused a lot of feelings and emotions, anger, fear, uncertainty and blame. Key figures are resigning, turning their backs and avoiding leadership.

We've had over a forty year relationship with the European Community and now we are divorcing. There are two camps, you are on one side or the other and all the relationship toxins are in full flow - blame, criticism, contempt, avoidance and defensiveness.

Knowing how to be in relationship is vital to the health of any partnership, whether that is with your loved one or between countries. We are always learning how to create and be in a relationship. That work is never done. It is ongoing, it is changing and it unravels more as you go deeper.

I have yet to discover 'the perfect relationship'. The paradox is that on one hand I don't believe they exist and on the other I do. All relationships can be seen as perfect. Perfect because it is by being in partnership that we grow, it becomes the mirror which is essential for our evolution. It highlights who we are - the good and the not so good. We learn about ourselves, we develop a greater understanding of ourselves and our partners and we become stronger. Collectively and as individuals.

It takes a brave heart for both partners to each take full responsibility for the health of their union. But that's the glue that helps bind solid partnerships. It's not about blame or pointing the finger.
Self preservation gets triggered when there is fear and there was plenty of that served up in the run up to the referendum. The result is isolation and withdrawal from connection. The true work of relationships is beyond the self and beyond the ego.

There is one thing we all know and seems to me to get forgotten and that is the fact that life changes. We all change. Circumstances change, things happen. The world changes. Relationships and unions need to be designed at the outset so that they have the capacity to change too.
They need the opportunity to be redesigned throughout the life of the partnership. A kind of check-in if you like, to see what's working and what isn't.

It might only mean a few tweaks here and there, but the union has to stay awake. If it doesn't then cracks occur and eventually the pieces split apart.

Relationships need flexibility and understanding to grow and remain. So if your partnership is believed to be worth saving and you are not happy you don't run off - you stay and work it out and your partner needs to be committed in staying and working it out too. It really does take two. This isn't about getting your own way - it's finding alignment. You don't have to agree, but you can be aligned. And through alignment you can create a resolution.

That can be uncomfortable but that is how partnerships get stronger.

Align with your purpose. Go back to your 'why'. Why did you fall in love? Why did you form a partnership? And why did we create a European Union?

I know the EU is a complex issue but I believe that it was a relationship that could easily have been saved a long time ago.

So, maybe we can take a lesson from it and look at our own personal unions and partnerships, romantic, business or otherwise and get back into alignment and see where it might need redesigning to serve us better.

Because at the heart of life, we human beings need each other.