As we start heading towards the emotionally charged holidays, it’s time to revisit this notion of “that’s how it’s supposed to be” and start looking at what we can make it into.  One of the themes going on for my clients right now is “I can’t believe this is happening.  I know I need to leave, but I can’t, but I have to, but I feel like a failure, it shouldn’t end up this way, what am I doing wrong, how can I fix it, why am I to blame it’s all my fault!”  Part of the reason for this is that we have been taught that marriage is forever, that marriage is like a long distance race that we need to be in for the long haul and that we will win something at the end, that all people who stay married are happy and that being married will guarantee you happiness now and in the future.

All of which is possible, but none of which is necessarily true because a marriage is a connection between two people.  Yep, it’s not a mechanism, not a race or a goal or something to win, it’s a connection between two people.  That connection is a living thing and there’s no way to know what it’s lifespan will be.  That’s up to the two people involved and their choices in each and every moment.  You can talk about fate and karma all you want, but free will means that we choose.  We choose in each moment what we will and won’t do and those choices are intertwined into this thing called marriage.

And all marriages, like a good book, have a beginning/middle/end.  That end could be ’til death do us part or it could be with the stroke of a pen in a lawyer’s office or it could be through neglect and being ignored.  None of those endings is intrinsically better than any other.  It’s how and why that ending occurs that makes the difference.  A marriage full of bitterness and hatred that lasts a lifetime is not an achievement no matter how funny it may seem in a sitcom.  A marriage that lasts a year may produce the most amazing results and be perfect even if it is brief.  It’s the quality of the connection, the meaning and joy and harmony between the people who make a marriage a success, not the amount of time spent.

Endings are natural and necessary in order to make way for the next thing.  As we head from Fall into Winter we can see this process all around us.  There’s no need for guilt and blame and panic and despair.  It’s time to release, to go inward, to find the possibilities and unleash the joy that’s been in storage.  Decorate your heart for the holidays and let the light shine on those less fortunate this year.  Do what you’ve always wanted to do, give the way you want to give, and make sure you give to yourself as much as you do to others.  Because you’re worth it.