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Engaged to be Divorced – Part Two

Every romance begins and dies with a story that each of the partners bring to the union.

The couples we have worked with over the years report that they talked themselves out of being concerned for years before the first affair, the first meeting with the divorce attorney, or the present romantic estrangement and alarm that they feel. In Part One of this two-part article we presented to you case snippets of seven such true stories where various couples found themselves wondering what had happened to the magic in their romance or marriage.

These same couples can usually remember what it was like when they first met and how amazing it was that everything that the other person said was fascinating; a warm hug could last all night!  The reasons that partners in a romance will tolerate the growing dissolution of their love are too numerous to cover, but suffice it to say that every romance begins and dies with a story that each of the partners bring to the union.

In the beginning of any relationship, each of the partners’ personal stories contributed to the attraction that they felt toward each other.  By the time the romance is so dry that it would be considered flammable however, the un-inspected stories and ill-gotten ways in which they cope with life’s emotional challenges that each partner had brought into the relationship are  now causing them to feel disconnection and alone – or looking for love in all the wrong places.  If you are dissatisfied with your romance or find yourself considering a termination of the relationship — this is a good time to take action.  The relationship may be too far gone to save, but most can be rebuilt.

Every relationship has a breaking point at which the alarms of concern stop blaring in the background and the painfully routine verbal battles and emotional conflict all but disappear.  Some couples are apt to view the calm as a relief or cease fire.  Unfortunately, the disconnection can often be the prelude to a decision to terminate the relationship or to pursue or act on a new love interest.  If you are dissatisfied with your romance, find yourself missing that “loving feeling” or contemplating a non-romantic and non sexual flirtatious encounter or “emotional” affair (whatever that means) then this is a good time to take action.

When the romance dissolves to this level you will probably find that planning for a regular “date night” or taking a secluded private vacation is going to be too little too late. It can be difficult to know what to do with a failing romance but the best rule of thumb we can offer is for you to do more than you think is necessary, because there are probably more problems than you think there are and working through them is going to take far more time and energy that you think it is going to take.

We do not assume that couples belong together or apart.  We have seen relationships in which the partners inflicted so much damage on each other and themselves that they found it impossible to get safe enough to undertake the massive reconstruction project that was needed to save the marriage.  Conversely, we have worked with many couples who were “engaged to be divorced” and decided to work on the remnants of a relationship that had once brought them great joy – and have celebrated many years of sober romance with each other since.

Every relationship that we have had the privilege to work with has taught us something about what is needed for the development and maintenance of a healthy and sober romance. If you have read this far then you are indeed ready for healing in your romance, but be prepared to go to any lengths to “save your marriage” or  your relationship. You can begin today to be the model for your children or grandchildren when they are of age so they can learn from you how to have a different romantic relationship than you once enjoyed yourself.. Do not be discouraged; with your newfound conviction it is most likely that you can get help and you can get well.


Engaged to be Divorced – Part Two

John and Elaine Leadem

John and Elaine Leadem are licensed clinical social workers whose combined investment in the field of addiction treatment spans more than sixty years. Their commitment to helping recovering families has provided the core inspiration for the development of a "A Decision to Be IN Love"© which has helped many couples move from the traditional parallel model of recovery to strong united core support group. They are both certified Sex Addiction Therapist and have co-developed a model for treating couples during the crisis stage of recovery. In addition to being the co-directors of Leadem Counseling & Consulting Services, Elaine and John are seasoned therapeutic retreat leaders in working with recovering couples. As a team they have thus far co-authored three books:

In addition, John and Elaine are in the final stages of publishing their two latest masterpieces: Raising the Bottoms: A guide to training professional interventionists, and A Decision to Be IN Love: A therapist guide to treating couples recovering from addiction.

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APA Reference
Leadem, J. (2014). Engaged to be Divorced – Part Two. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2019, from


Last updated: 3 Jul 2014
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Jul 2014
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