QUESTIONS FOR A BREAKUP
Most of us experience several breakups in relationships with the opposite sex over the course of our lives. With the divorce rate coming close to 50%, the outside-of-marriage relationship breakup rate must surely be much higher.
I have never had a painless breakup with a wife or a lover. Even the loss of a good female friend when there has been no sex involved has been painful to me. It hurts to lose people you have cared for. Even the loss of an old songwriting buddy over politics is still a briar in my heart.
Unless we are a conscious user of people and have an advanced manipulative personality, we simply cannot take people into our lives and casually dismiss them with no pain at all. I have never desired to be that kind of person. I had rather take the pain and be aware and open to life as to become a non-feeling robot.
Most of the time when a relationship has ended, I feel like a run-over dog lying beside the road wondering, "What happened? What went wrong? What did I do to bring that on?" Seldom have I had a clear and acceptable understanding of what went wrong but time and contemplation tends to bring some understanding. As a friend of mine said, "Distance brings perspective."
Because of my raising, I tend to have guilt even when I cannot think of anything I did wrong. So after one breakup I developed a checklist of four questions to pinpoint the role I might have played in the breakup.
Number one is to ask, "Was I kind to her and honest with her?" I believe the main thing we owe a friend or a lover is kindness and honesty. I list these two together because sometimes we are so kind we are not honest. We can also be so bluntly honest that we are unkind. To get through a breakup, it is important for us to be able to feel we kept a good balance in these two qualities.
The second question I ask myself is, "Was I supportive of her in her life challenges outside the relationship, and did I try to foster her growth as a person?" No relationship exists in a vacuum. We have parents and children and jobs and illnesses and all those things can toss little or big grenades into relationships. It is important to be supportive of those we care for as they deal with those challenges. It is important to encourage them as they try to evolve into better persons.
The third question I ask is, "Did I listen?" Nothing is more important than to listen - to really hear a person, to listen with the head and the heart.
The fourth question is, "When I was wrong, was I strong enough to apologize?" I ended one relationship when I realized the other person had never once said, "I am sorry." No one can live with anyone for years without being wrong about something. I was sick and tired of always being wrong but I had been man enough to admit when I knew I was wrong.
It's been my observation that most people who love someone are willing to forgive and try to forget. We love to accept apologies. It is a way of telling someone you love him or her and accept their humanity. It often feels real good to "make up" after one has wronged or been wronged, as long as it is not a constant thing, soon said and soon forgotten.
If you think of something I need to add to my list, please share. Like you, I am an imperfect being just trying to get through this life loving as much as I can and getting as much love as I can. If you know some question I have overlooked, I will value your thoughts. .