By Eva Bell
A woman was brought to the Emergency Department of a hospital with symptoms of a heart attack. She complained of chest pain, breathlessness and excessive sweating. Investigations showed that it was not a heart attack but a ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ due to a surge of stress hormones like adrenaline, after her husband announced that he was leaving her. She recovered with medication and counseling.
A number of women feel relieved, liberated and happy to be free of a stifling or addictive relationship. Women realize they can walk out of a bad marriage, especially if they are economically independent. Today there is no stigma attached to divorce. However, most women feel devastated, confused and betrayed. Some sink into depression and in extreme cases, may even show suicidal tendencies. The reactions to a breakup are similar to what one experiences after bereavement. There is shock, denial, anger, depression and finally acceptance.
According to Divorce statistics 20% of marriages end in divorce, 20% of couples live in hostile or volatile relationships, 20% have no love for each other, 20% pretend to be happy and only 20% are well adjusted and truly happy. Breakups are therefore on the rise. However, human resilience allows recovery and the ability to chart a different course.
Causes of Breakups:
• Unrealistic Expectations of marriage. Couples enter marriage hoping for a lifetime of romance. But reality falls woefully short of expectations. Sonya Friedman says, “Romance is a lovely diversion for a weekend, a honeymoon, a Thursday tryst or a momentary expression of affection on a special occasion, but it is not a way of life.”
• When spouses are polar opposites in character, temperament, likes and dislikes.
• Lack of Commitment. When couples jump into marriage capriciously they don’t commit to permanence or endurance. Where there is no commitment the relationship deteriorates. The vow ’till death do us part’ becomes meaningless. Norman Wright believes that “Marriage is total commitment of a total person for a total life.”
• Lack of Communication Skills. When there is no in-depth conversation spouses cannot negotiate the give and take required for daily living. Communication however, should not deteriorate into criticism and continuous correction.
• Role Conflicts. Man wants unmitigated control over wife and family. Woman is no longer willing to concede to bonded labour. Her social and economic roles have altered.
• Lack of sexual satisfaction leading to boredom in the bedroom.
• Alcohol and drug addiction.
Results of Breakups:
– Loneliness. A feeling of desolation as if your main prop has collapsed. Loss of a love relationship leaves an emotional vacuum.
– Emotional Stress leads to anxiety, depression, anger and sometimes thoughts of suicide. The two genders react differently to breakup. Men don’t take much time to process the loss. They look for a substitute partner quickly. Women take a considerably long time to work through their breakup and come to terms with their changed status. Eventually they see the benefits of a new life.
– Some women take it in their stride. It gives them the impetus to seek greater fulfillment. Society today is more accepting of single women.
How to cope with Breakups:
1. Breakup calls for social readjustment. “Life must be lived forward but it can only be understood backwards,” says Soren Kierkegaard. To evolve a coping strategy one must sit down and review the reasons for the breakup. Are you in any way to blame? Is there anything you could have done to put things right? Are you guilty of selfishness, anger, impatience, intolerance or even lack of hygiene? Decide to change what you can and accept the things you can’t. There is no need to be excessively critical of one’s self.
2. Develop your Emotional Quotient. Leave behind past baggage, acknowledge your pain but work towards healing, giving yourself adequate time to heal.
3. Discover your self image. Take this breakup as a challenge. Locate your plus points, your strengths and your values. Belief in one’s self speeds up the process of healing and gives courage to withstand loneliness. It helps to motivate one’s self to be happy and tension free. “The mind needs the scaffolding of self confidence that enables one to adjust to new situations,” says Dr. Amelia McCool.
4. Life can throw up stresses from time to time. The aim is to respond constructively to them. Respecting one’s self is important. It will prevent you from drowning your sorrows in drugs, drink, gluttony, overwork or erratic behaviour. Rather than isolate one’s self and drown in self pity or take advice from all and sundry, it is better to seek the help of a trained counselor for proper guidance. “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling but in rising every time we fall,” says Nelson Mandela.
5. Find a supportive group of friends; pick up an interesting hobby; if you have a job, then concentrate on your career. Activity improves the mood and stimulates positive thoughts.
6. Don’t harbour resentment against the person who has wronged you. Forgiveness brings peace of mind. Carrying grudges is like hiding a time bomb in your heart.
7. Don’t rush to get back into the dating game unless you are sure that you are in a healthy emotional state. Be clear in mind about the qualities you wish to see in your new lover. Compatibility is of utmost importance.
8. Try Spirituality. Discovering the love of God can be life changing. Dependence on God gives strength to endure and to open a new chapter in your life. He hears and answers prayers. Pray for grace to be free to discover a positive metaphor for your life.
Eva Bell is a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. She is a freelance writer, and her articles, short stories and children’s stories have been published in magazines, newspapers, on the Net, and in several anthologies. She is the author of: Novels – “Silver Amulet,” “When Shadows Flee,” “Halo of Deceit,” “Runaway Widow”. Non-Fiction- “Grace Abounding,” “Womanism- The Adventure of being a Woman.”