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Confessions: I can’t seem to get over my first marriage, how long will this last?

 It took long to decide to leave, and when I did, I felt a whole host of emotions (Photo: Shutterstock)

About two years ago, I left a five-year marriage. It took long to decide to leave, and when I did, I felt a whole host of emotions ranging from anger and sadness, to hurt and loneliness. I honestly tried my best to make the relationship work, but it just didn’t. So I keep thinking I should be relieved, and that I should be ready to move on and start dating again. But I can’t seem to get over the failure of my relationship, and feel scared even just talking to men. What’s going on and how long will this last?


What the readers say:

Karen, through this time, you will need to get lots of rest and reduce other stresses in your life. It will be beneficial to you if you learn to take care of yourself and rediscover yourself after this break-up. Learn from your experience and adopt a positive outlook to life. Many have had break-ups, even divorce and ended up in happier and more fulfilling relationships, many of which even lead to marriage.

{Evelyn Wanjiku} 

Sorry for what you are going through. You need professional counselling. Generally, marriages and relationships are not like the romance movies we watch – these are often well-rehearsed to avoid or minimise errors. Marriage is for real people and what works for you might not work for someone else. It has no uniform marking scheme and when one relationship fails, do not generalise that all others will be like that. Take it one day at a time as you move on.

{Ouma Ragumo – Sifuyo} 

Women will always take time to accept and deal with broken relationships. This is because they give their whole hearts into the relationships. Take some time off to relax and do some self-reflection. You will come to discover that men are indeed different and that there is still a chance of finding true love out there. Accept what happened and move on.

{Tasma Saka}

Boke says:

Dear Karen,

It is perfectly normal to go through the emotions that you are experiencing now. Some people have equated the breaking of a marriage to bereavement. It can weigh you down. People get into marriage hoping that their relationship will last their lifetime. When this does not happen, there is a lot of self blame that takes place, particularly from the woman’s side. There are societal expectations and double standards that frown on the woman when a marriage breaks, while the man is cheered to move on. 

First, shut the world’s voices out. Rid yourself of every societal pressure. They do not know what you went through. They are probably the same people that were talking behind your back about the sorry state of your marriage and they are likely talking about your journey to redeeming yourself. 

Secondly, give yourself time to heal. Take time to love yourself. One of the things that a toxic relationship does to an individual is to rob them of their self esteem. At the moment, you must be grappling with the thoughts of you being not good enough.  

Be kind to yourself. You can unknowingly become too judgemental to yourself. Excuse yourself where you need to and forgive where you need to. You know all the effort you put to make things work. Concentrate on this process. Otherwise, you will get distracted and find yourself in the same or even worse situation. Do not be in a hurry to get into another relationship until you are convinced that the other person is really privileged to be with you and not that they are doing you a favour.  

Hilda Boke Mahare has a background in Counselling Psychology 

Simon says:

Karen, that is the normal cycle and process of a break-up and especially for a relationship or marriage that meant a lot to those involved. Divorce or breakup from a long-term relationship is always difficult. Everybody who loses a loved one through a divorce or separation experiences similar feelings also including regret, resentment and emotional insecurity. This is because break-ups throw one off balance socially, emotionally and physically. Break-ups challenge many things that one believed in, they disrupt routines that either one or both persons had become accustomed to and they take away that “safe-haven” feeling that gave you security and a sense of belonging. All these things can leave one feeling empty inside, harbouring many toxic feelings and thoughts. 

Such situations are often difficult to deal with alone and the best way to go about it is to seek external support through counselling. However, even with counselling, you will have a key role to play through this. In working through this, allow yourself to heal through this process by accepting the situation and knowing that it is OK to feel the way you do. If you don’t do this, you will be stuck in a dark hole for a very long time. You will need a season to release; to talk yourself of all the things that did not go right and to make peace with yourself and with your former partner. This will help you deal with the feelings of regret, bitterness and resentment you may hold towards him and get you to a zone of acceptance and forgiveness. 

Avoid blaming either yourself or the other party and look at the separation as a necessity. As you go through this, be sure to keep reminding yourself that you have a good future ahead. With time new friendships, hopes and dreams will come around. Lastly, be sure to reach out to and confide in a close friend to help you through this. It will help to have someone who you trust and can talk to whenever you feel down and heavy at heart. 

Simon Anyona is a relationships counsellor

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