Who says that breaking up and divorce has to be arduous, painful, blame-filled, heartbreaking and full of struggle?
Our civilization has a strange view of relationship endings, be it through breakup, divorce or even free choice. While it is acceptable that employment relationships may run their course and it is not a failure to leave one job and find another that is more fulfilling, or that children are born, grow up and leave home, marriages and romantic relationships that end are seen as failures and something gone terribly wrong.
Why Should Ending a Romantic Relationship be Any Different Than Endings and Changes in Other Kinds of Relationships?
Just as it is not a failure to change one's job for a better one, outgrow a friendship, or leave home and go off on your own, ending a love relationship isn't a failure either. Often, it can be a blessing, especially when the ending is done respectfully and with care.
Relationships end for numerous reasons. For whatever reasons your relationship has ended and however your partner is acting or has acted, you have the power to choose how you want to unravel the tapestry of your WE as you return to your ME.
While uncoupling your relationship from someone you have loved and shared life with is never easy (often it's downright painful and emotionally complicated), it doesn't have to be the devastating, stressful mess it usually turns out to be. In fact, knowing how to end well can teach you how to take better care of yourself, transcend the ancient myths you carry about love, and lead you down the path to finding greater love inside yourself and with others.
Your Negativity Keeps You Hooked and Holding On
As a marriage and family therapist and author of a book about infidelity, the number one problem I see that blocks people from moving on is staying stuck in a repetitive negative cycle of blaming the other and shaming themselves for the failure of the relationship. "My ex is being a total jerk, I hate him!" "I cheated and ruined everything, that's why it's over!" "I can never forgive her for what she did." " My partner was cold as ice." "Did I give up too soon? Maybe it would have gotten better eventually if I hung in there?" All this damning and doubt puts you in a victim mindset, not an empowered one. It keeps you connected to and imprisoned to the past, unable to let go, fix what's broken, learn the lessons or move on to new love.
Four Reasons Why Blame Hurts You:
- Blaming someone else for your misery keeps you from ever being happy. You have given control of your happiness to someone else.
- Blame creates a win-lose, right-wrong paradigm. Someone has to "win" the breakup. The winner is redeemed and feels right, the loser is at fault and wrong. Divorces are traumatic enough. They are among the most traumatic form of change most people will experience. When you introduce failure and the concept that there must be a winner and a loser, neither side will ever feel like they "won" anything. Children will also inevitably be caught in the middle of a heated battle.
- The time you are devoting to your righteous anger about who caused the most damage or who did the most (or the least) to save the relationship, leaves you little room or capacity to deal with each other and more importantly yourself in a way that creates the least pain after the relationship is over.
- People stuck in blame have lower levels of happiness, more psychological distress, poorer self-concepts, and feel more alone.
The Amount of Happiness You Feel Depends on the Amount of Freedom You Have in Your Heart
Endings are opportunities for new beginnings and yet when you have loved deeply, it's hard to let go of the attachment to the bond you once felt for each other or the secret hope for reconciliation. Sometimes staying caught up in the dramas of the past, keeps you from dealing with your deeper fears about finding new love, getting hurt in relationship and truly being alone. New life, happiness, and freedom comes when you learn to love yourself and build a safe, loving, nurturing home inside yourself to live in.
It's Time to Close the Book on Your Old Story and Write a New One!
You can OVERWRITE your OLD worn-out, hurt-filled love-gone-wrong story and antiquated reaction patterns by CONSCIOUSLY choosing to have POSITIVE, CARING, NURTURING LOVE EXPERIENCES with yourself and with others.
Instead of spending your valuable energy wallowing in the black goo of judgment and blame, start focusing on the following:
- "What brings me happiness?"
- "What have I learned?"
- "What was good about our time together?"
- "What is the kindest, most loving action I can take right now?"
- "How can I take really good care of myself right now?"
Yes, it takes patience, time and LOTS of self-loving but it's never too late to start concentrating on your needs and what makes you happy. You are the one responsible for how you feel, think and behave. Own it. The more you CAN cut the cord from your ex and lovingly attach to yourself, the more peaceful, happy and open to new love you will be.
Sheri Meyers, Psy.D is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA, and author of Chatting or Cheating: How to Detect Infidelity, Rebuild Love, and Affair-Proof Your Relationship. For a free chapter of Chatting or Cheating, please go to: chattingorcheating.com