Lounging in bed on the day after a holiday dedicated to love, listening to my favorite Saturday morning mix of music on a show called Sleepy Hollow broadcast on Philly station WXPN. In a few hours I will be on the road heading to Maryland to facilitate my favorite workshop that is all about relationships, communication, and boundary setting, and bonus, people attend dressed in jammies as they experience safe, nurturing, platonic touch by consent. With the playful title of Cuddle Party, it has taught me more about relating than many of the actual partnerships/loverships I have been in. At the moment, the only one of those I am in is with myself. For the first time in ages, I have not felt disappointed that I don’t have a specific Valentine with whom to share the day. I know I am blessed to have many loving friends and family members; some who have sweeties, some single. Some of them are delighted to be in either state, some dismayed.
I read an article called Valentines’ Day Advice For A Marriage to Be ‘Divorce-Proof’ is Offensive and Dangerous, that was eyebrow raising. I found myself nodding along as a therapist who does counseling with couples. Some are in the throes of crisis and are considering leaving, others want to repair a few broken places and make what is good, even better. When a relationship shifts, a loss occurs, akin to a death. Expectations that were set at the beginning, some reinforced at an altar in front of family and friends, may crumble in the reality of day to day living. What I have discovered is that relationships never end. Even though certain people are no longer in my regular cycle of days or circles of people, they will always be a part of me.
I say that love is never wasted. Relationships change. People change. With very few exceptions I am still friends with former partners/lovers. As a minister who has married hundreds of couples, I know some have divorced. Does that mean they failed? I don’t think so. Reason, season, lifetime relationships are in all of our lives.
You can look at it this way. Everyone you now know and love was once a stranger. Everyone you now know and love will one day die or leave you or you will die or leave them. I encourage you to love them as fully as you can and allow them to do the same for you.
When I asked friends to share their feedback on the topic, this is what arose:
“We ended our marriage (my ex and I) after 25 yrs. We did so with love and respect; he is still my very good friend, and he is also a terrific friend to my husband. Divorce does not have to happen ugly.”
“Even some soulmate relationships come with an expiration date.”
” I think it’s interesting that we bought into soulmate = forever. Why not soulmate = soulmate.”
“My ended marriage was NOT a failure. Still good friends, co-parents game strong. (adult child, but still needs parents) Yes, it was hard at first, there was sadness, but no hostility. I still love him dearly, just not romantically. My boyfriend and my wasband get along great.
You know what I don’t understand? When a couple breaks up and someone says “I wasted all that time!” How so? You had a good run, you certainly learned stuff, now it’s time for something else. Love is good, and things change.”
“I was married for 18 years and for me it was a waste of time. The reason being that we could not connect heart to heart. It was almost like we spoke a different language and it is like that to this day. The fact of the matter is I did not love myself and my partner mirrored that back to me. It was a painful existence. I wasn’t living my best life and I find that sad. That does not mean there weren’t some good parts but I would not consider it a good run at all.”
“Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
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