I often wonder whether male and female responses to relationship breakdown differ much. I tend to think there are more similarities than differences, after all these are the issues of rejection, and the will to move on, we’re dealing with.
On the side of the aggrieved, not the perpetrator of breakups, this sentiment holds such truth:
“Don’t let it happen again,
‘Cause that I couldn’t take,
Once was quite enough,
It’s easy to forgive, harder to forget.”
~Mental As Anything, If You Leave Me Can I Come Too (1981).
One breakup may be quite enough, even more than enough, for most people to bear. But beyond the starkness is a soon-to-be cherished hope; one that cannot yet be seen.
The Betwixt Pain of Separation
It may be very apt to compare the loss of a relationship with the loss of a loved one, but for many perceivable differences, not the least of which the other party to the relationship is still alive (for better or worse), but there are issues of rejection to deal with, not to mention we can no longer have what we want—them!—when another person can; and hurt, potentially, tears us apart from within.
Perhaps it’s best not to compare losses, for losses are unique in their manifestation and by our experience of them. But, then, we do tend to compare.
How can we truly gain any real grasp of the enormity of issues involved in relationship breakdowns? Even when they occur to us we can neither make head nor tail of the horror of them.
Whether it’s the betrayal that cuts like a knife, the fact nothing we can do can change the situation, or just plain numbness we feel—all that, itself, defies rationality. It can only be experienced in real time, hopefully with copious meaningful support.
Accepting Emotions That Come from Nowhere
The main thing I recall from my experience of marriage breakdown was the fact of emotions I didn’t know existed. I had never suffered before; the idea of loss, even the very thought, was just too bizarre, too horrible, and possibly too painful to consider.
For weeks in the early period I just wanted to sleep; to be anaesthetised from my world of pain. And I couldn’t afford feelings of betrayal—I still held much hope (as was the case for nine whole months) that the marriage could be somehow reconstructed, ‘put back anew’. I vacillated between varying fashions of denial. And my attitude definitely was, If you leave me can I come too?
I couldn’t see a world without my then wife or as a live-in father for my daughters.
These emotions that come from nowhere, or worse, from somewhere too reminiscent, need to be dealt with eventually, but not necessarily in their rawness—when the pain may be too great to safely encompass. But, we are commended for praying for the time and the courage to deal with these irreversible problems.
Relationship breakdown pain hits alarm-bell proportions when we find there’s no coming back; adjustment when there is just no choice is cruel, but ever more real.
Acceptance and adjustment are long roads and we may simply battle to crawl, let alone speed to our destination in a high-powered vehicle.
What we need, right now, in the midst of the pain, is a creative way of dealing with it, during those healthier moments—the brightening hours—before the sun of our soul’s sets once more into oblivion. There is regeneration out of desolation, but only in the midst of harmonising grace.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.