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Relationships, Marriage and Loss 

by B. Lee Coyne, M.S.W.

Valentine's Backlash Brings
Love Anguish to the Fore

When Cupid lifted the trusty arrow from his quiver, little did he expect that it might misfire and leave hundreds of broken hearts littered along life's trail. While millions mark Valentine's Day as the optimal time to celebrate the successes of love, many others who are now widowed or divorced feel no cause for celebration.

Losing a once-love is like a car running on empty if we allow it to be so. Our society sells us the idea that couplehood is the greatest of experiences. Turn to any magazine and more than half the ads you see seem to suggest togetherness in some form. Rarely is there a movie or song that lacks a love interest. We are bombarded with the "love theme" from every direction, caught in Cupid's cross-fire.


But true life is not usually a happily-ever-after fairy tale. It contains both germination and termination of relationships. After they end, the thoughts and feelings linger on.

As we grow older, sometimes we grow "out of love" with each other when our personal values take us in different directions. Priorities for the couple may differ. How we spend our time and money can greatly vary. We learn that married life isn't just one non-stop date; rather it is a series of ups and downs and in-betweens. Reactions to stress can make one mate angry and the other fearful and withdrawn. Once that communication breaks down, so does individual confidence. And if these problems stay unresolved, infidelity and divorce can follow.

For those who maintain "high quality" marriages, savor it every single minute. The odds are greater that one spouse will get ill and die well before the other. If the survivor becomes overinvested in marriage to the exclusion of developing vital outside friendship with others, any such spouse's death can result in social paralysis for the survivor. It's as if a person grew a second umbilical cord--and it became severed.

It is known that a certain segment of today's older folks were once the victims of molestation or rape when younger. Often these scars were "buried" at the time and never quite healed. Valentine's Day can also re-open these timeless wounds of affection gone berserk.

Loss of innocence as well as loss of love are important issues that won't simply fade and go away. Now is the time to muster courage and help yourself heal. Self-Love is the greatest gift of all.
About the Writer: Lee Coyne is a long-time tamer of bothersome stress and depression and runs the Coping Clinic of Salem. He also sees people privately at the Salem Senior Center. For more details, call (503) 365-7533. 

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