When relationships end, (especially romantic or sexual ones) we often struggle to maintain friendships or create shared meaning with our former partner(s) or spouse while transitioning out of the relationship. We go our separate ways. We split assets. We fight. We scream. We show little dignity or compassion. We share the dog. We allow anger, disappointment, fear, and dissolution to fill us.
I see this happen regularly out in the world, but differently in my clinical practice. Clients who have chosen to end relationships during therapy, (due to infidelity, differing sexual preferences, different relationship desires, monogamy vs. non-monogamy, or just growing apart) find themselves in a place where there is an opportunity to end the relationship well. This process is not void of sorry, melancholy, or hardship, but couples/partner therapy can be an excellent way to reconcile differences and create a meaningful friendship or respectful transitions out of each other’s lives, after the romantic component of the relationship has ended.
Even in situations where one or all of the participants in the relationship feel badly hurt or slighted, there are many ways to find meaningful resolution without cutting the relationship completely off (unless this is most preferable for the individual(s), or necessary for safety or moving forward). This is not to say that you and your former spouse will be best friends, but that you can look back on the relationship and distinguish preferable relational qualities. Moving forward, these experiences can support future development and authenticity in subsequent intimate relationships.
Inevitably, in situations where relationships end under hurt and sorrow, finding loving kindness for someone can be a useful way to find resolution. Not desiring a future relationship of any sort with your former partner may be the best option, but having means to end the relationship preferably (with tact, dignity, and respect), wishing your partner well, can help all of those involved move forward in an authentic and meaningful way.