Home > Marriage, relationships > Ending a Painful Relationship and Starting Over

Ending a Painful Relationship and Starting Over

99% dissolvedMy marriage is falling apart. How will it affect my children? I’ve worked so hard at this relationship, maybe if I just work a little harder. My best friend slept with my wife. I can’t make the mortgage payment. My business is failing. Nothing I’m doing is working.

This is “life.” It’s happening around us and to us at all times. Things change, people change, circumstances change and then our lives change.

These experiences are often incredibly painful, but they don’t need to signify the end of your world. Life and relationships are about beginnings, endings and renewals.

We’re odd creatures. We remember the few positives of an otherwise painful relationship and disregard the overwhelming evidence that it’s time to cut the tie because we’re afraid of letting go. We fight against it, bide our time and make bargains with ourselves and others to try to find new ways to hang on.

We have a tendency to get caught in untenable situations in which we keep trying and trying to make something work, only to feel more frustrated and hurt when the inevitable occurs. We don’t think to ask ourselves, “Why am I holding on so tightly to something that generally makes me feel so bad?”

sinking_shipThis calls to mind the image of a sinking ship. If you were a passenger on the S.S. Slow Boat to Nowhere, would you cling onto the deck of the ship yelling, “No! No! We can make this work!” as it begins its descent to the ocean floor? Or would you be doggie paddling like crazy to one of the life boats? As for me, “woof woof.”

There’s a freedom in finality. It gives you permission to start over. Take what you learned from the old relationship and your experiences and try something else. Who you are today is the sum total of all of your past experiences. You carry these lessons with you not as reminders of what didn’t work, but as primers of how to better succeed in future relationships.

Letting go is not synonymous with failure, although a lot of people think so. Some people going through a break-up or divorce believe they can only be happy or “win” if they make their ex miserable. That’s not true happiness. Happiness comes from acceptance and embracing your passions, whatever they may be. If you’re carrying your old baggage in both hands, how are you going to catch new opportunities when they come flying past you? Let it go.

Every ending is an opportunity for something new. Let it inform your future choices, not poison them. These experiences are often very painful at first, but this is where, when and how real growth can occur, if you let it. Just remember, it’s not the end of the world, but the beginning. Okay, then keep telling yourself that until you believe it.

Counseling, Consulting and Coaching with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries or send an email to shrink4men@gmail.com.

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Related material:

The Secret to Happy, Long Lasting Relationships

Photo credits:

99% Dissolved by Donna62 on flickr.

Sinking ship on unsong.

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  1. Trudis
    October 8, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    “She doesn’t exist” is so true… Actually, when claiming “I had the time of my life with her when it was good!” only tells you that she knew how she had to act to draw you back in. It wasn’t her that either. She really doesn’t exist. But on the other hand, the woman you loved DOES exist – only not in her. She’s still out there, maybe even looking for you.

    It hurt admitting that she never loved me. But then I found comfort in realizing I never loved her either. Because she still doesn’t exist! And I can actually keep loving the dream, let the bitch go, and actually find the real HER, instead of the psycho who partially trained herself to seem like a real person.

  2. John
    June 13, 2014 at 2:44 am


    I too am 48 and told my two kids I am divorcing their Mother. She is in a mental health care center currently. I’ve spent 21 years with this woman and finally have had enough of her destroying three lives. I tried to shield my kids and spare them the pain of divorce. They cried, but know I’ve done all I could dealing with her BPD. I’m going to have to work a lot to get my 16 year old daughter back as she targeted me and her.

    You too can experience the feeling if relief. You need to get out. Don’t waste years as I have.

  3. Eran
    March 19, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I am scared of my wife. She is strong and hit me. She was same with her family and now I don’t know where to go and what to do. I am 48 years old and I don’t want to be exist anymore. Lost every hope in my life. I can’t even speak to her family as they can’t speak English. Have noboy to share my pain with. My Friends they use to tell me, be a part of there life has changed them to be more calm and positive and they use to get good energy form me. Now I feel hopeless. I don’t know who I am anymore.

  4. Mark
    March 6, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Mighty1500, I think your wife and mine rolled off the same assembly line. I have bipolar illness but I’m not violent or prone to violence, yet my ‘compassionate Buddhist(sic)wife said to me, after some nasty comments about my illness, “You might get angry and kill me!”

    Years ago, my late father, who was a great man, told me he developed a spine of steel and no matter what life threw at him, it wouldn’t destroy him and he said I, too, needed to develop a steel spine. After my psycho alcoholic wife’s words, I suddenly felt the steel spine. I’ll have my van fixed in a couple of weeks, then I’m ready to go. I know I could get alimony, though we have a prenup(stupid!)if I have a good attorney or let her keep her money, her house in Maryland and condo in Florida but I don’t want her rubbing my nose in it.

  5. Tyv
    October 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    I thought i could handle it as well. and I did handle it much better than her previous guys, because i set up my boundaries fiercely to begin with. And then she wittled me down by saying she was inferior and such a burden to me, and woe is me, I’m so awful – and crying allllll night before i went to work and then again once i got home from work (she didn’t work of course. tried to study, but failed…).

    And after one year or so, I became the underdog. And she ate my soul for breakfast.

    Anyways. I was wrong.She was a burden. And freedom is… simply lifegiving.

  6. Matt
    October 14, 2011 at 11:31 am


    Your damn right it’s hell. I just had all last evening wasted because she was upset i didn’t spend time in work coming up with a plan for something for us to do together. So because i didnt do that before she went volcanic, i had to sit on the edge of the bed (my familiar position, im not allowed sit on the bed incase i get comfy!!) and say sorry i didn’t spend time thinkinig of a plan for us. Nightmare. But your right, i am not capable of handling this no matter how much i think i can, or may have fooled myself i can.

  7. tyv
    October 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I was told today that she has a new guy. That was quick LOL. POOOR MAN !!!! And he thinks he can handle it (like me, oh man I feel retarded now). ALL her friends are on my side, her family is on my side, I got a psychologists note saying that I’m normal etc. I got tangible PROOF of her insanity (all men are dogs and she is superior, she IS the fifth element, etc). They see the twisted insanity and they are actually TELLING him this. Even though she smack in the middle of the most disturbing psychosis, he wants to try. I tell you, it’s schizophrenia in your face disturbing. I ain’t kidding when i mentioned Silent Hill.

    these texts are the equivalent of my bible now:

    Before (we had a problem communicating. Now I know WHYYYYY):


    matt, for the sake of all mankind, get out. I’m an atheist, so I believe that these relationship types are the definition of hell. Life is larger than you, really. You are not capable of handling this. get ouuuuuut. Get your family ready, your friends, show them this page, do everything you can to mobilize and then get the hell out of there!

  8. Matt
    October 13, 2011 at 11:37 am


    OH MY GOD,

    “she cried violently and made me feel like darth vader in terms of sheer evil when I tried to discuss with her. I ended up being furious and DESPERATE with frustration and storming out the door. I couldnt recognize my self at all! And then I apologized !!!! EVERYTIME. because that would stop the incessant whining!”

    That is also my entire life except for the storming off. I did that before and that made her worse! If i don’t come crawling back to console her she gets even more mad. So now i walk up and down the room clutching my hair, the very picture of insanity while she rocks back and forth on the bed crying. Then i swallow hard and say sorry while resisting the urge to vomit in her face like the kid from the exorcist.


  9. Tyv
    October 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    She seems more aggressive than my ex. She just cried violently and made me feel like darth vader in terms of sheer evil when I tried to discuss with her. I ended up being furious and DESPERATE with frustration and storming out the door. I couldnt recognize my self at all! And then I apologized !!!! EVERYTIME. because that would stop the incessant whining!

    ARGH. don’t wanna think about it. I can feel some of the old feelings.

    Phew. Matt, if you can feel what I’m writing. get out of it. I know exactly how hard it is to get to where I am now. It sucks. But staying sucks even more. because then every second will suck for evermore !

  10. Tyv
    October 12, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    But the aftermath still sucks, because I really did love her, i.e. the girl she was at times. Had the best times of my life with her. Also the worst. Ratio 25% good / 75% bad i think.

    Love sucks ! But it’s also incredible when it works :D and I’m sooooo looking forward to meeting a nice (literally) girl some day. Hope you do too. And all the guys in here also, cause I know these girls exist. I tried it before! :)

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