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From lovers to brothers: Conscious uncoupling

Madhuri Banerjee MadhuriBanerjee

Updated: February 13, 2016, 11:42 AM IST
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From lovers to brothers: Conscious uncoupling
When the attraction dies and the love remains, when the bitterness fades and the caring stays, when the sexual needs perish but the conversations linger, that’s when you know that you’ve moved on from lovers to friends.
Recently actress Gwyneth Paltrow said that her ex-husband Coldplay singer Chris Martin was like a brother to her. While this brought out a universal, global reaction of, “Ewww” it also got me thinking about my ex relationships. Suddenly I realised that my ex and I were still friendly and completely platonic. Did that make him my brother?!
How do lovers become brothers?

Let’s begin from love. We fall in love. We get married and we hope that we will remain passionate and intensely connected to the person forever. However, over time we notice that the passion wanes, the understanding fades and the needs differ. The relationship becomes bitter. This leads to acrimony and most often to break up, separation or divorce.

So why is the divorce rate rising?

In 1900, average life expectancy was only 46 for men, and 48 for women. Today, it’s 76 and 81 respectively. In the last 116 years, it’s increased by 43 years for men, and 48 years for women.

What this actually means is that when humans lived relatively shorter lives, they could easily adapt to one person for the entire period. Whereas today we’re actually living three lifetimes as compared to early human race. Hence we may have three significant relationships in our lifetime.

Our biology and psychology aren’t set up to be with one person for four, five, or six decades. This is not to suggest that there aren’t couples who happily make these milestones—we all hope that we’re one of them. Everyone enters into a marriage with the good intention to go all the way, but this sort of longevity is the exception, rather than the rule. Accomplishing that requires occasionally redefining who we are separately within the relationship and discovering new ways of being together as we change and grow. It’s important to remember too, that just because someone is still married doesn’t mean they’re happy or that the relationship is fulfilling.
So when we separate/divorce we have feelings of betrayal, angst, loss, and hurt that leads to much drama and distress with couples and their children.

Katherine Woodward Thomas in her book Conscious Uncoupling defines it as the path to end a relationship through mutual respect, kindness and deep caring. What a wonderful way to end a relationship! Without the mudslinging and crying.

So what has this to do with lovers becoming brothers?

At some point when the passion dies and the caring begins you understand that you truly want your partner to be happy. That he/she gave you a deep love when you needed it most. Their intention was to fulfil your purpose at that time. And now the time is over. You will slowly realise that your partner is not entirely at fault for the breakup of the relationship. You will learn to forgive yourself and them. You will learn that your personal growth, your journey and your needs are determined by a larger universe, a new lifetime. And your partner doesn’t fit into it. When you consciously uncouple, letting go of ownership, possessiveness, insecurity and anger, you will find a way to converse freely about how to heal and maybe even how to love again.

There are many people who ask, “Won’t you ever go back to your ex? After all he’s safe, comfortable and a known devil is better than an unknown one and we all have needs you know.”

Those who left their relationships in a bitter manner with deep regret and angst, will never be friends much less lovers with their ex. For those who went through the break up amicably will realise after a few years that they’ve lost all sense of attraction to the person they were once with. Often we look at our exes and wonder, “What was I thinking?” We were thinking differently because we were different people then. It was a lifetime ago.

When the attraction dies and the love remains, when the bitterness fades and the caring stays, when the sexual needs perish but the conversations linger, that’s when you know that you’ve moved on from lovers to friends. And when you realise that the bond is deeper than just friendship – it’s an eternal bond you will cherish forever, that’s when you think your ex could actually be like a sibling. Then there’s endless happiness, respect and freedom!
First Published: February 13, 2016, 11:42 AM IST

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