Monday, September 19, 2011

Give Up the Marriage Goal Post-Divorce

As Heidi Halvorson points out in her book, Succeed.How we can reach our goals, sometimes you have to give up a goal.  This is, of course, a central task in the post-divorce period.  Giving up the goal of happily ever after, of having a particular life with a particular person, of having holidays in a particular place with this constellation of family members, you have to give those goals up.

Borrowing from some of Halvorson’s ideas about how to think about goals we give up, and what we can do to ease the pain, these are some suggestions for use post-divorce.

Evaluate your effort and persistence.  Did you do everything you could?  Did you try to go the distance?  If you did your best, it’s time to let go and move on.

Let go of self-blame.  Success is determined largely by effort.  If you put in your all, the marriage didn’t fail because you’re not smart, attractive or clever enough.  Try to be honest about what went wrong, but let go of the gratuitous self-criticism and give yourself an “A” for effort.

You left for a reason.  People leave relationships because the cost of staying is too high.  If the relationship damaged your self-esteem (you were married to a narcissist), caused you to be on an emotional roller coaster (you were married to an addict) or required you to pay some other high price, it’s okay to say “enough.”

Substitute a new goal.  It’s not that finding a date or running a marathon (interesting comparison) will actually take the place of the person, hopes and dreams that are gone, but setting a new goal does a long way to helping us let go.    That’s why meeting someone new often eases the pain of a lost relationship.
It’s not just the person that’s gone, it’s the hopes and dreams.  Part of the work is letting all of that go.  There’s always a new goal on the horizon.

The way we were.  Barbra Streisand

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