About a year ago I wrote a post on transforming relationships. Over the next few weeks I want to expand on the whole idea of what I like to call Happy Endings. In other words, how to have a relationship that if and when it does “end” it will be a positive and uplifting experience.
People generally don’t know how to end relationships. (Actually I prefer the term transform relationships because I seldom want to end them.) In our society the stereotypical divorce or break up ends with screams and anger and vindictiveness and an attempt to take the other for whatever they can get. Seldom is there any acknowledgement of the love and time and energy that was spent in the relationship when it was going well. For some, years of happiness are erased and totally forgotten.
Now I realize that there are some relationships that are toxic from the beginning or as soon as the New Relationship Energy (NRE) wears off. That’s a whole different subject. What I want to talk about are those relationships that begin just fine. They’re loving, fun, exciting and then something goes awry. The relationship devolves or morphs or each person just goes in different directions. And by the end of it all, the fun and love has turned into anger and regret and at times a complete disallowing of the good parts of the relationship. Instead of acknowledging that most of the relationship was of wonderful and that the person you just spent the last 10 years with gave you 8 years of fun, excitement and joy you negate the whole 10 years because they weren’t “the one”.
It doesn’t have to be this way. When it comes to relationships and ending them, I’ve lived a blessed life. With very few exceptions my romantic relationships have always ended on an up note and with almost all of them I’ve maintained a friendship. This didn’t happen in a vacuum. I realized after my last divorce that I must be doing something right. I’ve reexamined my life and while for the most part it looks to some like sheer luck and a determination on my part to not increase the pain by becoming enemies, there are also some things that I’ve done that created the whole possibility of staying friends and having a breakup that had some dignity to it. I’ve also realized that I’m not the only one out there who has continued friendships and maintained positive relationships. I’ve talked to a fair amount of folks who have had “Happy Endings” for a variety of reasons. Some because they have children. Others because they realize that their partner is still someone worth loving and having in their life. Others just because they couldn’t dream it could be any different.
Once Upon A Time . . .
We go through our life looking for “the one”. There is this romantic notion that not only is a relationship forever but it happens in one fell swoop. Love at first sight. Swept off your feet. Your Prince (or Princess) has come. Etc. etc. etc. The reality is that once the bloom wears off of the romance and the new relationship energy has waned, you can be left feeling a bit unprepared for the relationship that you just entered into. Especially if you’ve gone the whole way and made it legal. Not only have you entangled your hearts, you’ve most likely entangled your money, your home, your possessions and in some cases, your children. Now if the “happily ever after” and “until death due us part” portions of this fairy tale called relationship is true for you, then the commingling of your life most likely will be painless. However, for many of us it just doesn’t work out that way.
We find, after a time that that our white Knight is really a troll or our Princess is a Queen who needs to be treated like one all the time. And you never bargained for a castle in the swamp with no running water. Okay, I am being a bit facetious, but the reality is, many relationships end prematurely or at least before death. (I think that relationships that end when they need to end are the ones that are healthy. It’s the holding on to a bad relationship because of some sort of misguided societal or familial pressure that creates the animosity and vitriol we see so often during breakups).
Just how do you prepare for something that you do not want to ever happen? How do you keep it romantic and yet use common sense and create the safeguards you need to ensure happy ever after, no matter what?
For a relationship to have a Happy Ending it has to have a Great Beginning and a solid foundation. I know it sounds a bit preposterous, however the better the relationship you have with a partner the odds are that your transformation (breakup) will be equally as good.
There are many things you can do to create that solid foundation and over the next few blog posts I’ll be talking about some of those things.