We live in a world that claims to value monogamy. Along with that comes all the other expectations of relationships. True monogamy is of course “until death do us part” which at one time made sense, since many women died young (often during childbirth) after giving birth to numerous children. Now days we live longer and we end up being serial monogamists. Many times that is accompanied by marriages then divorces then more marriage and more divorce. One other imperative in the monogamist “death do us part” mindset is that when we end relationships, no matter what the reason, someone has to be the “bad guy”. Even our divorce language automatically sets us up for it; Plaintiffs and Respondents imply someone wronged the other. In most states you can’t even have a lawyer represent both of you no matter how amicable the divorce is. Someone has to be wrong.
We have 2 hour movies 1/2 to 1 hour TV shows and 3 minute songs that all create the illusion that in a short time we can meet, fall in love and marry and even end the relationship. Everything is instantaneous.
When we let our friends know a relationship is over, the first thing they ask is “what did he or she do?”– expecting to hear the worse. Sometimes relationships end because there is nothing left to hold them together. We just simply grow apart. While I do know that there are times that relationships need to end completely, because of abuse or criminal acts, that is not the norm.
Why do we throw away months and even years of great times and a good relationship simply because the last few months or years were unpleasant, or just not intimate? How can we negate what our partners have meant to us? Usually there is a compelling reason to form a relationship. And generally it has to do with compatibility, sexual interest and intimacy and the fun times that we have with those we love. We seldom fall out of love, although we can fall out of “like” with a partner and then we know it’s time to move on. But does it have to be the end? Can’t it just be the beginning of the next stage of your relationship?
What I’d like to propose is that we can have transformation of relationships. That they can alter and change into something else and that there doesn’t have to be a bad guy or a plaintiff or a respondent, just two people moving on in separate directions who also acknowledge what the other person has been and continues to be to them.
How do we do that? Well first, we set up our relationship structure in such a way that if and when the relationship reaches a point that it needs transformation, we can do it in a way that is adult and affirming. This takes consciousness, which is many times lacking when we are caught up in the throes of new relationship energy. We owe it to ourselves to enter all relationships consciously.
Creating agreements on how you interact with each other. How you disagree. How you deal with strife and the hard times in your relationship can create the possibility of healthy and life affirming relationship transformation.
This is why my former husband and I created The Principles We Try to Live And Relate By which made it possible for us to stay civil through the end of our marriage and helped us transform our relationship.
The principles are just some of the techniques we used to create a relationship that has survived divorce, illness, remarriage to another and even a trip to Italy. We are still good friends and will always be there for each other.
In fact, when we started talking about divorcing, we created a separation agreement since we owned property together. Steve added a paragraph that basically said:
Steve and Allena agree that their marriage to each other was one of the best things to happen to them in their life. And that if at all possible they will always be there for each other.
When we finally reached divorce time, we had our separation papers added to the divorce decree. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person to have such a paragraph in their divorce.