You’ve tried. You really have. You loved this man, you believed he truly was your “happily-ever-after.” You wanted this to be THE relationship of your life. When things started going downhill, you read all the self-help articles, more books than you can count, went to couples counseling together, yet still – your relationship, your marriage ended. He got up in the middle of a therapy session, threw up his hands, and said “I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t,” and that was that. You had no children you were raising to glue you together, or they’re already grown, whatever, this is it.
Whereupon, not only is your heart broken, which is bad enough, but on top of that you feel like an utter failure. You couldn’t, despite all the advice from family, well-meaning friends, experts and the like, pull your relationship out of the dumper. It’s not even like there was an infidelity or some devastating addiction that overwhelmed your relationship. Somewhere along the line, it fell apart. All you can think about is how you failed! Dismally, abjectly, failed.
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Whoa. Before you throw yourself in front of a train or spiral down into bleak depression, how about a different point of view . . .
What if your relationship wasn’t a failure, but rather was complete. As painful as it may be, some people are not in our lives forever, yet the experience of being with them has great validity. When you know how to work with the experience so as to use it as a springboard to greater happiness, you can radically transform what appeared to be a definitive disaster.
How do you do this?
First of all, look at what the experience taught you about yourself. Maybe you fell in love with love, and didn’t really look at who this person was you were inviting into your life. Perhaps you learn that you need to use your head as much as your heart when you embark on a romance.
Maybe the opposite is true. Maybe you reassured yourself that because there were so many compatible areas, it didn’t really matter that your feelings were lukewarm about him. You were tired of being single.
Secondly, what did the experience teach you about what you need in a beloved? Make a list! A list of what you need and want, knowing now what didn’t work for you.
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Thirdly, take a cold, hard look, at how you behaved in the relationship. “Me!!” you cry, “What about him?!” You have no control over “him,” better you should look at how you behaved and how you responded, to learn how to either do things differently in the future, or appreciate the value of how you did behave. This is where counseling can be immensely valuable. It can give you the benefit of a neutral eye (unlike our mothers, siblings, and BFFs) to help you determine what were the good choices you made and which were less so.
Much as we’d like our “’til death do us part” be exactly that, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Think of your previous relationship not as failed, but as complete. Something from which you gained much joy, many lessons, and greater knowledge with which to move forward – into ever increasing happiness.