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Dear Kiantha: Listen to your heart when deciding whether to stay or go

Dear Kiantha,

How do you know when a marriage or relationship is over, and how do I make the decision to leave?

Dear Friend,

In 1979, the Grammy Award for best R&B song went to Earth, Wind & Fire for the ballad called “After the Love is Gone.”

The song featured a velvety smooth arrangement to accompany what I believe is the best description of the transitions of a dying love affair.

In the first chorus and hook of the song, the lyrics are as follows:

For a while to love was all we could do.

We were young and we knew, and our eyes were alive.

Deep inside we knew our love was true.

For a while we paid no mind to the past.

We knew love would last.

Every night somethin’ right.

Would invite us to begin the dance.

Somethin’ happened along the way.

What used to be happy was sad.

Somethin’ happened along the way and yesterday was all we had.

And oh, after the love has gone.

How could you lead me on and not let me stay around?

Oh, after the love has gone.

What used to be right is wrong.

Can love that’s lost be found?

What Earth, Wind & Fire was alluding to was that relationships including those that lead to marriage start off in a good place. A place of happiness, openness and contentment. In some relationships that time, for various reasons, comes to an end.

Making the decision to leave a relationship can be difficult and nuanced at best. Deciding when or if to move on after the love has gone is a matter only the heart can decide.

People often decide to stay due to a commitment to what the relationship once was. Being committed to the idea of partnership versus a commitment to the love and intimacy required to maintain a loving relationship.

Doing this can cause what I like to refer to as sacred misery. The belief that holding on to a failing relationship in misery is better than the alternative which is deciding that it is time to let go.

By all means, if the relationship brings you more joy than sadness, work toward that joy and allow your love for one another to be your anchor.

Only you can decide when the love has truly gone and if it has, you must set yourself and the other person free. Lost love can certainly be found just as a forever love cannot be lost.

Soul to soul,


Dear Kiantha can be read Fridays in The Spokesman-Review. To submit a question, email

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