I recently returned from a trip to Croatia. It was filled with unexpected sights and sounds, which is what we all seem to hope for on a visit to another country.
I was in Zagreb, Croatia walking around the oldest part of the city. (Old, as in hundreds of years) As I walked down a narrow, cobblestone street, I saw a building with a small sign that said “Museum of Broken Relationships.” Just because the words seemed so out of place in that setting, I was instantly drawn to the building.
As I entered the building, I realized it was a museum, although one that houses recent items instead of those from centuries ago. The concept is to ask people, from anywhere in the world, to send in one item that is representative of a relationship that has broken. In addition, they are asked to submit some thoughts about the relationship. I was fascinated by the items people sent and the wide variety of stories, feelings and thoughts expressed.
When finished, I sat outside the museum processing all that I had seen and read inside. My professional self kicked in and I focused on the word “broken.” What a powerful word and one that has so many implications. In my work with divorcing, or divorced couples, one or both may feel broken in some ways. The divorce may be viewed as a failure and they may blame themselves. Others also focus on the relationship itself as that which is broken.
When these thoughts and feelings occur, there is often the implication that what is broken cannot be fixed. It is, plain and simple, broken…shattered…not fixable. Yet, what if the pieces of the relationship can be rearranged in a new way, a way that works and enables them to communicate more effectively for their children or others who care about them. Most importantly, if they are open to rearranging the pieces, they can begin the work of positive co-parenting.
We have all experienced relationships that have broken in some way. It takes courage to be willing to even consider picking up the pieces and putting them together differently for the sake of everyone in the family.