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How the Worst Pain in my Life Helped me Grow

I’m getting divorced.

And it hurts.

Not only the two of us involved directly, it is equally as damaging to the little people created by the relationship. They have no control over the decision which affects them for the rest of their lives.

Realising you’re happier apart doesn’t happen overnight, it’s an insidious process. It’s like the drifting of a glacier out to Sea which meanders away from the shore. The gap at first isn’t noticeable because you don’t take the time to check but then you look and you can’t see the shore.

Relationships fail in two ways: gradually then suddenly.

But the gap is caused by only one thing— neglect.

And the process is filled with mistakes by both parties.

There’s no school that teaches you how to be a good partner. We get anecdotes from parents or advice from friends. Unfortunately, this often relates to life before the advent of current technology. ‘In my day we didn’t have phones and we agreed to meet at the local park at 7pm’ reveals insight into the plight modern relationships face. Competition for attention is now a massive problem.

Lack of attention is an affliction suffered by people in almost every relationship.

In short, the advice of yesterday isn’t as wise today and it won’t help the tomorrow.

This is the hardest thing I have ever went through. As I reflect on all the mistakes I made, the warning signs I ignored and my neglect in allowing things to get to where they did I am haunted by what I missed. Distraction was the route cause of the distance between us. Failing to check up on the health of our relationship should of been the first symptom.

We take things for granted, knowing they were good once and assuming they will always remain that way.

Yet we are all surprised when something is no longer the way it was. We fail to commit the same time to maintain what we have that we did while we were pursuing what we wanted.

This is the biggest problem I’ve ever faced. Prioritisation of the things that matter is difficult, the modern world makes it such. Falling into a Rabbit hole is as easy as picking up your smart phone. Competing demands arise and distract us from seeing the things that matter.

And it’s a temptation that is increasingly difficult to resist. The worlds smartest engineers are employed to hijack your attention for as long as possible. They are succeeding.

The instantaneous nature of the world stops us from pursuing the health and wellbeing of the things that should be most important to us. We neglect those things today, assume they will be there tomorrow and then show remorse when they are no longer our future.

We only react when things become strained. We only try to save things when it becomes too late. We only recognise the problem when it hits us in the face.

Solving bigger problems is something I have taken to heart. I have faced no bigger struggle in my life. I’ve tried to take the lessons to heart.

  • How could I have avoided this situation?
  • What could I have done differently?
  • What did I miss?

The word that keeps coming up in my mind is appreciation, or more accurately a lack of.

When we don’t feel appreciated we feel taken advantage of. We feel unloved and forgotten. We feel isolated and alone.

This should be an easy problem to solve. I’ve taken the approach to use the technology causing the problems to help solve them.

The designer in me wants to make the best of a bad situation, to take the lessons learned, apply them to a product and help other people from making them as well.

And that is what I’ve built for myself.

I created a product I am using to help me conquer my technological demons. I acknowledge my own ignorance and have created something which reminds me to act like i should.

Ember is my super power. It helps me remain the person I want to be.

Crucially though, it lets me be the person other people have come to expect me to be. Ember is lets me be when life happens. It acts in my best interest helping me to maintain the health of my relationships.

By creating relationship markers, Ember acts as my spontaneity. It takes my input — how many times I want to buy my partner flowers each year or how many times to bring her breakfast— and plans it at defined intervals throughout the year. It doesn’t tell me when they are, instead it lets me know the day before it happens.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Ember links me with florists in the area and provides instant ordering through my app. It leaves me with no excuses and it looks like a spontaneous loving gesture to my partner.

And that’s what it is. We don’t purposefully take our partners for granted. Ember is a conscious choice to be better.

I’m currently working to develop it further.

It takes an input of all the dates you’d like to go on then it plans them throughout the year for you. Weekly date night becomes a planned event which you and your partner have defined together and is decided at random weekly.

When so much of our happiness rests on relationships why do we pay them such little attention? It’s because we take them for granted.

I don’t want to anymore. Anyone who’s felt the pain of going through divorce or a split knows this. Increasingly, it is happening because we failed to show our care and affection as frequently as we should.

Technology can be the answer to this question.

I plan to expand Ember to assist me with all my family and friends. Ember will eventually link to Facebook and use machine learning to identify the things the people I care for the most need from me to be happier. In turn I hope to be happier myself.

Whether that’s heartfelt notes, a phone call, or understanding which nail polish they are likely to enjoy.

When it comes down to it all we have are the people we care about.

And we all want to be loved.

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