Morning Motivation: Moving Past a Divorce or Breakup

A Native American Sauk Elder named Black Hawk explained that in his tribe, newlyweds spend one year together just getting to know each other and deciding if they can be a happily married couple. If not, they simply walk away from that relationship and seek new partners. There are no lawyers or papers. There is no shame or sense of failure. It simply didn’t work out, and both people move on.

Similarly, the Celtic Handfasting Ceremony celebrates a couple’s pledge to love and cherish each other for only one year and a day. After that period of time, they can choose to make a new pledge for another period of time, or seek new relationships that will bring more happiness.

What I particularly like about these approaches to committed relationships is their focus on happiness instead of guilt. Couples are not expected to simply endure the pain of an unhappy relationship because they have vowed to stay together “for the children” or “until death do them part.” People are truly free to be in a vibrant relationship that makes them both happy, whether that is with each other or other partners. If people choose to separate despite their best efforts to find happiness together, the focus immediately turns to both people finding happiness in the future instead of feeling guilt about the past.

Things are a little different in our society, where guilt surrounds us all the time. We have terms such as “failed marriage” and “failed relationship.” People often delay their own happiness while pointing an accusatory finger at someone for the “failure” of the past.

The concept of failure is an illusion! Failure is a meaningless judgment; we simply learn from all of our experiences, including a divorce or breakup:

  • “For some reason, we see divorce as a signal of failure, despite the fact that each of us has a right, and an obligation, to rectify any other mistake we make in life.” – Joyce Brothers
  • “We are divorced, we are friends, and we are good parents.” – Sarah Ferguson
  • “When people divorce, it’s always such a tragedy. At the same time, if people stay together it can be even worse.” – Monica Bellucci
  • “Re-examine all you have been told . . . Dismiss what insults your Soul.” – Walt Whitman
  • Divorce is like a root canal: never wanted, sometimes needed.” – Elizabeth J Griffith

If you are struggling with a divorce or breakup today, may you start the day by shifting your focus from guilt or blame about past “failures” to new happiness and new possibilities in the future!

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