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'Til Death Do Us Part... Cover

'Til Death Do Us Part...
By Rene Reid Yarnell

"...a must read for anyone going through a relationship transition"

– Cynthia Kersey, Author of Unstoppable
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'Til Death Do Us Part...
One Woman's Painful Journey to
Save Her Relationship While
Building a Network Marketing Empire

Introduction

This is the story of a fairytale romance that culminated in marital crisis. My intent in writing it is to raise consciousness that a new paradigm is needed as couples embrace marriage today. Challenges in relationships are inevitable. Given this, I propose that our objective be to emerge from our marital crises more ready than ever to make sound choices-either to renew and enhance our existing unions or to move on, transforming feelings of devastation into uplifting new beginnings without the usual sense of blame and failure. Such an outlook could open the way for giving birth to new types of relationships-primary partnerships that place more focus on each other’s personal development.

Of all the people we have come to know, or will ever know, there is something extraordinarily special about those with whom we have shared the emotional and sexual intimacies of living together in marriage or an equally close commitment. These relationships not only shape our life story, but also the unfolding and expansion of us as persons. It would be most unfortunate if, at the ending of such a partnership, we found nothing to appreciate. The merit of a relationship is not necessarily in its lasting forever. Its value lies in the journey two people shared while together. The more we can appreciate our relationships and honor them for the unique contribution they made to our lives, the less devastation there will be surrounding their endings.

Of course, our human nature will always lead us to enter relationships with the belief and commitment that they will last forever. No one goes into intimate partnerships expecting serious crises, much less for them to end. Certainly I never have. But neither can we go on, as a society, burying our collective heads in the sand: More than one out of two marriages, including the second and third nuptials, ends in divorce. And the rest end in death. These aren’t hypotheses. These are facts. And with the extended longevity of life, these statistics are likely to increase, not diminish. Endings are inevitable. Isn’t it time that we cease being so surprised if or when our relationships reach an impasse? Isn’t it time that we acknowledge this reality and find healthier, more compassionate ways for coping with these unavoidable events?

That is not to say that, for both sides, partings are not fraught with emotion, anguish, and despair. The pain of a relationship ending is unavoidable. The very roots of our soul are shaken. For those of us who have been left feeling that deep sense of abandonment, we doubt our ability to go on without our partner. It is difficult, at first, to see any future at all. We lack confidence in ourselves and in our ability to stand on our own. The only good news about these debilitating experiences is that, without them, we could not possibly create a new life for ourselves-a life founded on purpose and driven by conviction.

Some will, by necessity or choice, continue on together in a new form of relationship after the old form ends. Whether out of convenience or a mutually redefined transformation of the shared bond, fault-finding and accusation must be replaced with forgiveness and reconciling love in order to be able to go on effectively in each other’s lives. If children are involved, both parties should feel compelled to put the children’s good ahead of their own personal emotions. This isn’t an option but should be considered mandatory for the basic human dignity of lives that otherwise cannot yet fend for themselves. If the couple decides to continue a friendship or professional association, the healing process must be respected. Once it is complete, the alliance can often become one of deep friendship and authentic sharing. If the encounter is just to fill the emptiness, a continued involvement may not be as healthy.

As we move from one relationship to the next, it is less a matter of learning from the mistakes we made and more of giving ourselves permission to absorb the good that came from the relationship and allow it to propel us to the next level of interpersonal relations. This can only happen by choice. You and I have the power within us to create any attitude we choose. Instead of focusing on the hurts and the disappointments and what has come between us, we have the choice to focus on what drew us together.

Scientists with no theistic tendencies have concluded that the human thought is more powerful than electricity, more forceful than an atomic explosion. Human thought can transcend the physical universe. It is my hope that this book will enable you to utilize various means of self-empowerment-already accessible to you and perhaps lying dormant-to take hold of the steering wheel of your life and set it on course, accelerating wherever you feel bogged down and slowing down in moments worth savoring.

I remember years ago when "process philosophy" was popularized. I studied it hungrily, and today I cannot imagine anything not in "process." It is that forward thrust that gives life its meaning, in which each conclusion is only the beginning of yet another level of personal growth, a new transition of life experience.

At whatever stage of life you find yourself at this moment, I trust you will enjoy the honest depicting of my story. It is not my intention to represent myself as an expert on relationships, but rather as someone who has been through the ending of deep relationships often enough to perhaps have something of value to share-as much by my mistakes as by those matters I handled with some maturity. Nor is it my desire to offer you cookie-cutter solutions for your own relationships. So much of life is looking inside of ourselves and discovering who we are as authentic persons. Having done this, you and you alone will know how to address your own relationship crises: when to renew the existing partnership and when to let it go and begin again to create a new spiritual bonding.

After much thought, I have chosen storytelling over the more traditional self-help book to reach readers who may be encountering marital crises, perhaps feeling trapped in a marriage or wallowing in the self-pitying stage of abandonment after a relationship has ended. I hope also to touch the souls of those who leave relationships with no tears, no sense of loss in moving on, yet find themselves troubled when the same pattern keeps repeating itself. Using the narrative art form, I feel freer to share a series of processes that helped me emerge from the depths of my despair to actually discover solutions to my own dilemma and experience the joy that follows.

The story I am about to tell is my story, told through my eyes, my feelings, and my perspective. It is as accurate a story as can be when told through one person’s viewpoint. At my husband’s encouragement, I began writing this book in the summer of 1996 while we were living in our second home in Gstaad, Switzerland. I had titled it "Marriage and Merger." Serious problems had not yet arisen and, therefore, my purpose in writing at that time was to share insights into the successful achievement of having both a personal relationship and a business partnership. I have the advantage of having written about many of the blissful parts of our life while I was experiencing the relationship that way.

Two years later, by the summer of 1998, I had retreated to Sunset Beach just south of Santa Cruz, California, and used writing as a means of expressing my sadness and pain. From the perspective of the value of this as a piece of literature, it is good that I also wrote this portion of my story while I was going through the despondency. The letters, poetry, and e-mails are exactly as they were because I saved them. I would often capture the dialogue shortly after it occurred, recalling it as accurately as I could. Out of respect for those in the story, I have not attempted to second-guess their attitudes. Rather, I am unfolding a story only as I experienced it.

It is not my intention to denigrate any person in this story. I hope to share enough background and family heritage to help the reader see the patterns that inevitably form throughout the decades of family history. That is not to excuse some behavior, but it does help us understand it. If in every conversation, every human exchange, we had the ability to know each other’s family lineage and deeply grooved models for living life, how much more sympathetic we might be of each other’s perspective about life. I attempt to interject this into some of the dialogue as the story unfolds.

An alcoholic often chooses to be open about his disease for two reasons: hoping to help others by the honest exposure as well as to keep from falling back into old patterns. It has not been an impulsive decision on my part to tell my story. But after deep consideration, thoughtful prayer, and guidance from those upon whom I rely, I have concluded that sharing my story is akin to the alcoholic model. If I can effect change in public attitude toward marriage, divorce, and starting over after the loss of someone special in our lives, the good for the whole of society is offset by the discomfort I may cause myself and a handful of people in my life. I have shared my own shortcomings and the evolution of my personal growth with all the awareness of which I’m capable. By doing so, if I can help even one individual overcome the belief that he or she has failed, is a victim, has let the children down, is unlovable, or is unworthy of having a loving relationship, then the self-exposure has been worth it.

My purpose is not only to set forth a compelling narrative. Through this book, I hope to recount how one seemingly overpowering love affair-one that touched and transformed the lives of many people, and certainly the two of us and our children in a dramatic way-could reach the point of such devastation. By telling my story-our story-my objective is to embrace the myriad of others who have suffered their own losses and have gone through their own crises, separations, or endings. It is my hope that together we may find our exodus out of the dark cavity - the debilitating anguish and inherent failure associated with the temporary separation or permanent ending of a relationship - into an illuminated realm of joyous inner strength.

Of all the people I know, certainly I-not only raised Catholic but one who spent several years as a nun and holds a Master’s in Theology-had every reason to believe that I would grow up, get married, bear children, and live with my husband "’til death do us part." But now, having lived through more than forty years of close relationships (counting my high school sweetheart), including more than twenty years of cumulative marriages, and observing firsthand the changes in our society, I recognize the unlikelihood of that occurrence for the majority of couples today. While I remain in awe of those who achieve this phenomenon, it is my objective to open up new paradigm possibilities for those whose lives move in different directions (the etymology of the word "divorce"), perhaps more than once. When we face these crossroads, perhaps we will begin to look beyond the legal and fiscal confinements of traditional marriage and explore alternatives-life choices wherein more emphasis is placed on the personal and spiritual growth of ourselves and our partners. If something I share in this book compels you to take stock of your relationship and to clarify your direction, then this will have been a worthwhile project.


Rene Reid Yarnell
Reno, Nevada
July 2000