A separation gives us strength

Happy again after a breakup

It hurts so much that you squirm on the floor. That you can no longer find the strength to cry. To think that being dead would feel better. And no bones will break and no blood will flow. What has been broken is the heart. "A severe separation or divorce is like a live amputation. Without anesthesia. The most painful experience after the death of a loved one," explains Dr. Mathias Jung, couples therapist at the Dr.-Max-Otto-Bruker-Haus health center in Lahnstein.

The abandoned person in particular fears that he or she will never be happy again. But: "After a while, most of them realize that it wasn't a catastrophe, it was a breakthrough," says Jung. The therapist has dealt intensively with the subject - also in order to come to terms with his own divorce.

Nothing is forever

Farewells are part of life: the separation from the mother's breast, from kindergarten, from parental home, from being a bachelor. At some point the children move out and in the end we even have to say goodbye to life itself. And a partnership can also come to an end. "If you don't learn to accept finitude, you start to cling," warns Jung.

Of course, it hurts first when a relationship breaks up. That is normal. Suppressing the feelings that arise does not help. The tears have to go. Jung names the five classic steps that one goes through after a breakup:

The five steps of separation

1. Remember

Oh, what a great time we had. What have we experienced. This is what he / she always looked like while sleeping. But also: that bothered me, that made me sad. You can review what you have experienced together.

2. Weep

Why did he / she leave me? Why is this all happening to me? I miss the mutual conversations. I'm so alone. One mourns what has been lost.

3. Guard

He / she is a monster. Why did I let myself be pressed into this victim role? I don't deserve any of this! How can the ex-partner be so cold-hearted? You do the accounting, give way to disappointment.

4. Understand

I'm starting to understand what went wrong. Our relationship couldn't work like that. These were my / his / her mistakes. An important step to do better in the future.

5. Change

I will not fall back into old behavior. I want to become more independent, more considerate, more attentive. You work on your own behavior.

What helps over the first difficult time?

What helps to recover? "Very important, do not withdraw," said Jung. Meet friends, talk about what happened. Preferably with people who have already broken up. Women often have an advantage, they open up more easily. For men, especially the abandoned, divorce is often fraught with shame. They suppress their feelings and say: "That was a stupid cow anyway. It's finally gone." Then why was the gentleman married to a stupid cow for 15 years at all? That can't be entirely true. "Repression is not a solution. At some point the past catches up with everyone," says Jung.

Men are also more prone to consoling themselves with alcohol, cigarettes, or throwing themselves into loads of work. Addictive substances are of course not a solution. But is it okay if a man or woman tries to quickly distract himself with a new partner or an affair? A love affair can actually help you get through the grief phase. It can give confidence and joy. Jung says: "Think about it, is this affair a consolation? That's okay. Or is it just supposed to cover something up? That won't get you anywhere."

The war of the roses only hurts

The expert also advises not to plunge into cynicism or a war of the roses: "This only harms yourself." Much better, do an inventory! What I have done wrong? Was the partner right about some of the allegations? Was my choice of partner wrong from the start? Have we hidden our problems behind work? Did the children hold us together for so long? Couples with one child not only have to rebuild themselves after a separation, they also have to help the children not to suffer, or to suffer as little as possible, from the new situation.

"If you don't look back on the relationship, you drag your own mistakes into the next partnership," explains Jung. The therapist reports from the practice: "Women who had a hypothermic father often look for a similarly knitted partner and suffer again." Such a behavior pattern has to be broken. The same goes for a man who, for example, chooses his partner mainly because of her looks. It should be sexy - but can it also give me warmth and support?

It takes a lot of courage to break up

Separation takes courage - a lot of courage. I am no longer Steffi's husband. I am no longer Bernd's wife. Who am I actually? What do i like What do I spend my free time with? See the new phase of life as an opportunity to rediscover yourself.

"In a good relationship, both partners have sovereignty over themselves. In a non-functioning partnership, one of the two often subordinates his wishes," says Jung. It is now especially important for them to have their own projects again, to meet their own friends. "Only when I can live without you can I live with you" - Jung sometimes suggests this to his patients.

Shall we stay friends?

And please: don't put love under general suspicion. Make your peace - with your ex and with yourself. "You stay married to yourself for life," says the expert. You can really reconcile with your ex, if that's possible. If the other is not ready, you really don't have to get a bloody nose. It takes two to get along - you can forgive yourself internally. Knowing that you have forgiven the other can be very liberating.

"There is a magic inherent in every beginning that protects us and helps us to live," Hermann Hesse already knew. This certainly also applies to the time after an (unhappy) relationship. A partnership only breaks when it is no longer good. And that's why you can stop at some point, mourn the time together and start living again. And to love.

You can find help here:

Psychotherapy information service of the German Psychologists Academy GmbH of the professional association of German psychologists: www.psychotherapiesuche.de

Telephone counseling - available both by telephone (free of charge, around the clock on 0800/111 0 111) and on the Internet, by e-mail and in chat: www.telefonseelsorge.de

For separated parents: Our article on baby-und-familie.de

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