Sunday, July 15, 2007

What about Future Relationships?

Michelle asks in the comments section:
My question is, if you were to leave your marriage, what would you want to happen in terms of your relationships? I mean, would you expect to find another partner?

This is a good question, and one my wife posed (with some sarcasm) to me last night during one of our scheduled dialogues. She was curious about what a post marital relationship would be like for me, arguing that since I placed such an emphasis on sex, wouldn't it just be a bunch of one-night stands.

I've taken a look at the history of this current relationship, and I've come to realize just how immature I was at its inception. I didn't have much regard for my own self worth. I was longing for someone in my life, and when it happened, I compromised my personal integrity to achieve superficial harmony.

I've challenged myself on the divorce question many times, asking whether its allure is due to some false expectation of a catharsis. If that were the case, I would be leaving the relationship for reasons just as unhealthy as when I entered it.

The question is how do I deal with the anxiety of feeling lonely once the marriage dissolves. I don't doubt for a moment that loneliness will be involved. Reduced contact with my children, the rejection of friends and relatives who may not approve of this decision, and the prospect of geographic relocation will make this something I will do on my own.

The early days will need to be spent developing and reinforcing that which is solid in me. Self validating acts, like getting in better shape, making a new home for myself, and reinvigorating my professional life will be very important.

Because this change may involve the loss of what tenuous social network I may have had in real life, it will be important to counter the loneliness with constructive togetherness. That means finding some regular activities or hobbies that involve live interaction with others. I need to conquer the anxiety of making new friendships that comes from the nagging, but false, presumption that people would reject me if I just was myself.

While I could foresee dating, I would be in no rush to head back to the altar, and that is something I would make clear up front in a relationship that took a romantic turn. I don't think it would be wise for me to commit to something as deep as marriage when my kids should be my top priority both emotionally and financially.

In other words, all of this stuff that I picked up during my therapy work has implications once the marriage is dissolved, otherwise I really won't have grown that much.
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