“They’re Getting Back Together?!” – Recognizing Shifts Within

August 5, 2011

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In discussing the end of relationships the other day, I started to remark on how I never understood how partners, once separated, could reconnect.  Of course I’ve heard of many divorced couples reuniting, and my young daughter’s favorite movie is the The Parent Trap, but for me and my experiences, the actual practice of reuniting after a breakup had been foreign.

This “point of no return” in relationships has been a marker of pride for my family of origin.  While my family name isn’t Hatfield or the McCoy’s – the idea is the same: you wrong me (or one in my family) and it will be remembered forever.  There’s no going back, there’s no re-building that burned bridge.  There is black and there is white – choose your side.  Growing up I’d seen this played out in many relationships as I sat around my family’s dining room table in regards to friends, acquaintances, and other relatives.  The scenario was always the same: someone did something wrong to a member of my family and that person was then demonized and removed from our lives.  This didn’t strike me as odd as it was all done in the name of “moving on”.   The choice was to stay back within the mucky bad place with the wrong-thinking person, or move-on (cue the birds singing) to the next better phase of life without that person.

When people are seen in this black or white way, it’s pretty easy to understand why I never got the “getting back together” thing.  Certainly my past relationships and exs would agree that I’ve walked this belief.  Friends that would join my family clan could clearly state the rule: don’t wrong a Kellner.  The consequences are permanent.

But in this recent conversation — as I started to state my dismay of a reuniting couple by declaring “Why, I never!” — I realized that actually, I had.  Huh… And my mind’s normal loop was suddenly cut.

I was no longer able to state this once-and-done attitude because, as I was just realizing, in my last relationship I actually got to practice end/start again/end/start again/end quite a few times.  Like any new practice, this experience wasn’t easy but the rewards with each new reuniting grew and, remarkably, the endings became smoother too.  In the final end, there were no bridges ablaze, just a quiet, respectful parting.

Sometimes the gift of a relationship takes a while to be seen.

In realizing the shift that occurred in me through this last relationship, I had to give up that claim which was so ingrained in me.  I hadn’t realized till that point, that “poof!” I no longer could state shock-and-awe at hearing that a couple was reuniting.  Instead of going into pre-programmed reaction mode, I was left with the space of unfamiliarity.

Within this pause, I realized that my understanding had grown.  Just like that, decades of Being disappeared and I realized that I had created a new version of myself – one that allowed for people’s humaness (including my own) within love.  Through my experience of reuniting I let the stronger bond of love, not frustration or fear, guide the final decision.  I also discovered a new appreciation for the color gray.


Mindful mom, thinker, and author, Ellen Kellner, guides parents through her intuition, discernment, and experience.  She is the author of The Pro-Child Way: Parenting with an Ex available on Amazon.

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About Joanie Winberg, CEO of the National Assocation of Divorce for Women and Children

Joanie's passion is to help women to regain their confidence, build self-esteem and create a foundation of life skills. She is also the author of Rising to the Top, A Guide to Self Development, a Certified Human Behavior Consultant, and a Business/Personal Consultant specializing in divorce.
To continue to help provide a healthy lifestyle for women and children, Joanie is the Founder of the non-profit Happy Wednesday Foundation which provides educational mentoring programs and retreats for women in transition.

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