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Excerpted from Happily Even After by Alan Cohen. Copyright 1999 by Alan Cohen. Excerpted by permission of Hay House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"Countless pop-song lyrics, novel plots, and romantic movie themes have glorified and capitalized on the villain/victim model."

  Alan Cohen, Happily Even After, Part 3

I hold three powerful intentions for you as you set out on your adventure through these principles and stories. I envision that you will: (1) find deeper healing, peace, and win-win solutions to the issues that have challenged you in your past relationships; (2) open the door for brighter and more nourishing energy with your next partner; and--most important--(3) learn to love, honor, and cherish yourself in the process-so deeply that there is no doubt in your mind that you're worthy of having the relationships your heart truly desires.

"Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future." Paul Boese

On Father's Day, I took my two ex-husbands out to dinner," Danielle told me nonchalantly.

"Excuse me?"

"Why not?" she countered. "Steve and Randy are the two most important men in my life; they are the fathers of my children, and we are all connected. I wanted to honor them for the good they have brought into my world."

My immediate reactions were: (1) Are you serious? and (2) We could make a mint by selling this story as a sitcom. But then as I sat and digested my friend's account, I began to like what I'd heard. The more I thought about it, the more I respected Danielle for keeping her former mates in her heart and acknowledging their importance in her life.

Let's face it: Danielle's dinner is an exception to the way you and I were taught to deal with the end of relationships. In a million obvious and subtle ways, our culture has taught us that when a relationship is over, both parties go their separate ways, and at least one is hurt and upset. One person is a creep for leaving, and the other is left out in the cold. I can envision a Seinfeld episode in which George grills Jerry during a postmortem of a recent breakup: "Were you the dumper or the dumpee?"

We do not have to dig very deep to discover the source of our programmed attitudes. Countless pop-song lyrics, novel plots, and romantic movie themes have glorified and capitalized on the villain/victim model.

While many of us were weaned on co-dependent Weepy-Waily Victim Songs, few of us have taken the time to step back and ask, "Is there an option other than the one I've been shown? Am I doomed to live out the rest of my life feeling separate from those I once cared for deeply? Is there a way I can remain friends with my ex and feel good about him or her, as well as myself?"

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