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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

After a Relationship Ends

People instinctively know, despite how they might then feel, that their life is not over when a relationship ends: that the abused wife can move on, and the battered teenager can find a better home.

Or two sisters may relate pathologically, being hatefully tied to each other with their love being overlain by envy or competitiveness. But the ending of their relationship would open the possibility of identifying with a healthier identity, one that could be found in another person, an outsider.

After a relationship ends a person can become freer to use strengths which they always had. For example, while married, a wife might fear to exhibit all of her abilities for this would threaten the self-esteem of her husband and threaten their marriage.

A woman in her forties, without previous mental health treatment, was coping with the stress caused by her alcoholic husband, a problematic teenage son, and financial issues. Understandably, her work as a lawyer deteriorated. After her husband died of a heart attack and following a brief period of mourning, her mental health symptoms vanished, her work improved, and she became a more effective parent.

So the end of a relationship is not always to be grieved or, as one divorced man put it: the ending of a good marriage is sad but the ending of a bad marriage is a cause for joy.

Copyright (c) 2011, 2015 by Stanley Goldstein. All rights reserved.
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