My ex-husbands are a former Catholic priest and a former Protestant minister. One marriage lasted seven years; the other for 12. What helps soften the pain of the losses is that I regard both relationships as key events in helping to shape my life story. There was much good I derived from my time with each of these men. For instance, my second husband gave me the confidence to become a professional speaker and author. I wouldn't have pursued either vocation without his encouragement.
I don't believe that when a relationship ends one partner was more at fault than the other. Wrapping my heart in anger and recriminations would be such a waste. It's not so much about learning from my mistakes as it is about absorbing the best parts of the relationship. There is something extraordinarily special about knowing there is someone out there with whom I shared such a depth of physical and emotional intimacy.
I also believe that important as a love relationship is, there is always life beyond it. When someone important exits center stage, I've learned to take hold of myself and actively create the next phase of my existence. Breakups are not failures, but steppingstones.
My goal is to leave this world a better place than when I came into it. So nothing makes me happier than when a former husband calls years later and says, "I know we did the right thing to split up but I want you to know that I'm a better person because of the time I spent with you."
-- Excerpted from Love Lessons from Bad Breakups