I didn't think 2013, my 7th year of blogging, would begin with a subject most of us avoid--the D word. Let this be a year of happy surprises, everyone, not sad.
Happy New Year.
Words that describe types of commitment, informal or formal,married,
cohabiting, partnered, all indicate the status of a relationship. Break-up
words, do, too. Separated, divorced,
taking a break.
Divorce has an even longer and nastier word associated with it-- dissolution-- as if the relationship dissolve, like Fizzies*in water, or Alka Seltzer, when officially declared, Over.
When a couple is ready to end it, the words don’t really mean very
much. They are only descriptions, other words for being apart. The actual
relationship doesn’t disappear in a person’s head. We can’t divie
up feelings like we divide a piece of cake.
The culprit, the reason people don't simply let go, is that we get attached. Attachment is the problem! The degree of psychological attachment is
intangible, unfortunately, and immeasurable, invisible. No matter what a court of law might
decree, psychological attachment won’t change with the swipe of a pen. Feelings of connectedness,
feelings of love, need, even desire, remain.
Nothing changes, not over that difficult discussion at dinner when the
decision is brought down to break up. Nothing even changes in the first few years, for many.
TherapyDoc had to come up with an equation to help patients get a sense of what is to
come, following that decision, how long it will take to get over an unhappy ending.
It takes a week for every two months together to get over somebody.
That means that if a couple is married three years, or 36 months, it will take
18 weeks, or 4.5 months to really get over a break up, to emotionally detach from a
three year relationship. (No, this has not been empirically validated, but
everyone loves it.)
It is different for the dumpee
than for the dumper, of course.
Usually the person leaving has been upset about the relationship longer, has
already psychologically detached. But for the dumpee, the news of the break up is tantamount to the beginning of the count.
It will take longer for the dumpee than for the dumper, unfortunately. Insult on top of injury.
This is why breaking up, as
the song goes, is so very hard to do. Saying it, We're divorced, doesn’t make it so, not when you’ve
been primary in someone’s life, not when you really committed to that someone, hoped that no matter how difficult, the two of you would work on it, would try.
The predictable pain of dissolution, to be sure, is
why so many don't commit, like we did, say, in the twentieth century, to making that lifetime together work.
No guts, easy enough to say that. And we would be right.
*Parents bought Fizzies for children in the fifties. A
thin, round powdery tablet, a Fizzy bubbled and fizzed while flavoring tap water, always a
thrill for little kids, and easier than lugging Coke bottles home from the
grocery store, for moms. No idea what happened to them.
Parents bought Fizzies for children in the fifties. A thin, round powdery
tablet, they bubbled while flavoring tap water, always a thrill for a little
kid, and easier than lugging Coke bottles home from the grocery store, for