Emily* was sure she would be married to Don forever. They had two teenagers who were thriving. She had just gone back to work full-time, was loving her job and Don seemed to be supportive of this decision. So you can imagine her shock when he came home one night and asked her for a divorce. He was not willing to work on their relationship. And he was not in another relationship. He just wanted to leave. Emily was devastated.
She went into counselling at the time just to be able to keep moving forward. One step at a time. What really surprised Emily, after the shock began to wear off, was how much she was able to learn about herself. It was really challenging to understand and make sense of what happened, why did their relationship end?
In her book, Coming Apart, Daphne Rose Kingma suggests that all relationships have a lifetime and not all of them are meant to last until the end of time. This radically challenges our common belief that *it is supposed to be forever*.
What if we see the ending of a relationship as a sign that a cycle has been completed? Not as a failure. All relationships offer each of us something of value and importance, no matter how painful the ending. The tricky part is allowing ourselves the possibility to see this gift.
So, how do we find this gift? How do we gain perspective on ourselves and our relationship patterns? How do we forgive? How do we make meaning out of what happened so that we can move forward?
Let’s go back to Emily for a moment; through counselling she identified her part in the pattern that she and Don were in for years. She recognized that reacting to Don’s withdrawal in the evenings with frustration, irritability and criticism had not worked for her, Don or the relationship. Emily understood that this chronic pattern (or *dance*) was a part of the erosion of their relationship over time. She shared with the therapist that she felt disappointed, lonely and hurt when Don withdrew.
Emily decided to attend a Relationship from the Inside Out workshop, and with the help of the group she realized that she could pick a ‘neutral time’ to bring up issues and concerns. She also learned that it is essential to share her need to feel connected and close to a partner. Even better, Emily can now take this new found awareness with her into future relationships. At the end of the workshop Emily expressed some real energy and excitement around moving forward to date new people!
In our workshop, Making Sense of Relationship Endings, we invite participants to explore all of these issues in a safe, supportive environment. Our goal is for participants to leave with the belief that they can do the next relationship differently and whole-heartedly.
This workshop will help with the health of your future relationships by:
Getting unstuck: share your story and identify the emotions that hold you back, so you can forgive and move on.
Uncovering relationship patterns: understand your troublesome relationship patterns and learn ways to shift or change your responses
Getting clarity on the kind of relationship you want to build with someone in the future.
*for purposes of confidentiality Emily (and her husband Don) is a composite of women who have attended our workshops.
Amy Greenleaf Brassert MSW RSW and Judy Grout MSW RSW offer their workshop, Making Sense of Ending Relationships, on February 18th from 7-8:30 pm.
Go to http://divorceangels.ca/event/relationships-from-the-inside-out-making-sense-of-relationship-endings/ for more information.