There’s a couple I know who divorced a few years ago, separated over ten years ago, and have several children together. They both have good relationships with their children. The couple relate to each other by avoiding each other as much as possible.
When they first split, there was a mixed ability to have reasonable communication between each other. There were bad days, but there were good days where they still seemed to be able to get along. The more time went on, and the less they communicated, the more they seemed to demonize each other to the point where any communication from one only prompted defensiveness and confrontation from the other.
They must have loved each other once, although you wouldn’t know it now. She claims she never did love him, and never wanted to marry him – he made her do it, although it isn’t clear exactly how he went about doing that. She doesn’t seem to be the sort of person that one could easily make do anything she didn’t want to do. He says he used to think they were in love with each other, but now he believes they couldn’t have been. He didn’t feel loved, and tried to find it elsewhere. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. So is revisionist history.
They both hurt each other– betrayal, mistrust, distance, lack of respect and intimacy, pushing each other away. Neither of them is innocent.
Here’s the thing. Even though they separated over a decade ago, they are still clinging on to each other. At least they’re clinging to the bad parts – the hurt, the pain and the anger. It’s a grudge match that has gone on so long it seems to fall into the category of, “that’s just the way it is.”
How can they heal this relationship? Clearly, it is a relationship, even if it is thoroughly negative, and exists with barely any interaction. Well, maybe they can’t heal it, at least not directly.
In order to heal the relationship, I think they need to first heal themselves. They need to find the love and joy within themselves that they did not get from each other. Indeed, if you can’t find those things in yourself, then you are not going to be able to receive them from anyone else in any enduring way.
As part of that healing, I think they need to find a way to release the negative emotions about each other conjured up by the chatter in their heads that filled the space left by their lack of communication, and realize that most of their relationship is now based on the assumptions conjured up by their imaginations.
I’m sending sacred symbols daily to help them get there. I’m praying that they can achieve that clarity, that healing, forgiveness for each other and themselves and reach some resolution while their children are still young enough to benefit from it.