How To Let Go When A Relationship Ends

Dear Michele,
I can’t seem to let go of my ex husband even though we are divorced. Is it that I’m lonely and would like some companionship? Please advise, in desperate need of some help.


Dear S,

Letting go of any significant relationship, and especially a long-term marriage, is a grieving process. You will be “mourning” the loss of the relationship. The process is not much different than losing a person to death..

First, give yourself permission to be sad, regretful, even depressed. The process of separating from a relationship can be much longer than we want it to be. Allow yourself to accept the anger, disappointment, fear, or condemnation. By giving yourself permission to have your feelings, you will be helping yourself to process the pain rather than trying to avoid it. Some ideas that may help are talking to friends or family, scheduling time to mourn, writing your thoughts in a journal, praying using images of releasing your pain to Christ on the cross, and talking to clergy or a Christian or Catholic counselor.

Some things that may prevent us from letting go and moving on are disbelief that the relationship is over, holding on because we don’t want to be alone or be divorced, or fearing that we may never find someone else. Of course, when there are children involved, you will in some way maintain a relationship with your ex and many times that can be painful.

Some advice to consider: be sure not to jump into another relationship too quickly. You may get distracted from your pain or rescued from your loneliness in the short-term, but in the long run you could be causing yourself much more heartache. You want to be able to see both the good and bad of your past relationship – without idealizing your ex or demonizing him – before moving on. Letting go of the marriage will be difficult, but when you are ready it will feel easier to let go than to hold on to the pain of trying to stay connected.

In Christ,

Michele Fleming