I think about the nature of love and loss of love every time I hear of a divorce or break-up. If we assume it’s a given that divorce and break-ups will happen, then within this context, how do people go from “death do us part” to “I hate you and never want to see you again”? Why not (as we used to say in middle school): “It’s been real. It’s been nice. It’s been real nice… but it’s time to part ways”? (I added the last part.)
A good psychologist would undoubtedly provide a long, thorough and logical thesis on the subject of love turning to hate. Or perhaps such transitions boil down to a few key ideas, such as failing to take responsibility for one’s own role in the relationship. It’s hard to imagine how else one goes one extreme to the next without vilifying the other in some fashion. It’s also hard to imagine how to demonize someone else whom I perceive to be only 50% responsible for the demise of the relationship. However, if they’re the villain and I’m the victim, then it’s easy to go there. I might feel innocent and vindicated, but how will I learn to be more effective in my next relationship when I choose the same sort of partner?
To me, love is not connected to a switch that we flip on or off. My love for my ex friends, boyfriends, husband and in-laws do not shut off because we’ve decided to not spend our time together any more. And if I don’t vilify them, I think there is a tendency for them to not vilify me (though clearly not a guarantee). We can then part ways amicably and wish each other well on their new path.
Many people think my relationship with my ex-husband (and my boyfriend from college for that matter) is odd. We still do an occasional holiday together, hang out together at celebrations and events, enjoy chatting and catching up around our co-parenting conversations. We neither go out of our way to see each other, nor do we avoid each other.
I don’t know for sure how he feels, but I will always love him and have his back. Yes, I wish he could’ve done more to help us resolve our relationship issues that led to our break-up, but he tried his best and that’s all I can ask. I could’ve done more too, I am sure, and he seems to have forgiven me for my shortcomings as well. In this manner, perhaps we are able to maintain our “love, honor and cherish” part of our vows, even if “death do us part” went by the wayside in terms of our daily living arrangements. I don’t feel we’ll ever be completely separated. After all, we do share our children, and someday we’ll share grandchildren if we are so blessed.
Continuing to honor part of our vows is some consolation from the divorce. But having a real partner and ally out there in the world, instead of an enemy, even if it’s primarily from a co-parenting perspective, is a big plus in the good karma column.