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'Til Death Do Us Part... not only tells a compelling story, but through the story line offers guidance concerning opportunities for personal growth and emotional development during and after the dissolution of a relationship. It provides a lifeline to those facing emotional crisis and helps them transform feelings of devastation into energy for renewal or the decision to begin a new life.

The message of the author is one of hope: As painful and devastating as the shutting down of a relationship can be, once it runs its course, it can be the threshold to expanding us as persons and preparing us for something even better. So much of the sadness we feel at the end of a relationship has to do with being forced to face a new beginning. But, if allowed to unfold naturally, moving on from a relationship can be an awakening - not a failure but an upward movement toward a new level of maturity. The author reminds us that this consciousness prompts us to focus our energy on meeting the needs - emotional, sexual, psychological, and spiritual - of ourselves and our partner, which she describes as a spiritual partnership. Recognizing, however, that no once can adequately fulfill all the needs of another person, spiritual partners encourage other relationships that foster and enhance the growth of each of them. These broader relationships make up the circle of love in our li! ves. This movement from one relationship to the next, however, even when done in a positive light, is not without pain, Yarnell reminds us. The void that we feel at the closing down of a relationship is part of appreciating the bond that held us for the time we shared in each other’s lives.

"One of the most difficult lessons I have had to learn, and am still learning," says the author, "is that the key to relationships is to enjoy the journey and not focus on the destination. Where our relationships will lead us is far less important than what might happen to us both along the way. What I had finally come to understand in my marriage was that the heartrending sadness resulting from a relationship ending need not signal failure, but can be the portal to an even deeper experience of personal growth and a renewed or new spiritual bonding. We can allow that pain to bog us down in self-pity and prolonged misery or we can choose to emerge with full appreciation for the precious time we were given to share moments of our lives with another person. Once ended, it doesn’t matter whether our love is reciprocated or not. It doesn’t matter if the warm memories are mutual or not. It doesn’t matter if the time is for a moment or a week or a year or a decade or a lifetime. What! does matter is that we shared part of ourselves with each other, and the experience is raising one or preferably both of us to an elevated capacity to love.

If we can identify and celebrate the gifts we gave each other and can acknowledge that we have grown for having had these experiences, then our relationships will have enhanced our lifelong process of personal growth. The greatest fear most of us have at the end of a relationship is that we will be alone, that we will never again experience the kind of intimacy we once knew or desire to have again. The author demonstrates through her own story how the love given and received in our previous relationships makes it increasingly possible for us to know that we are capable of such love again.

She reminds us that it isn’t fear of being hurt that should concern us. It is a life without experiencing the joy of loving and being loved that should terrify us. The only real tragedy is never to have loved at all. Life is relationships and the personal growth that emerges from them. Understanding how they fit into our lives is the key to experiencing lifelong joy and peace. It is worth the pain and the soul-searching to discover how they shape our lives. And, Yarnell concludes, as we experience the closing of each phase of our lives, around the corner waiting for us is another new beginning. We need only reach out and take hold of it.

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