Elizabeth Winkler has graciously agreed to share one of her most viral blog posts to date with The Family Community. In her words: "My approach is warm, empathic, depth-oriented, and empowering to the client. I incorporate mindfulness and meditation to help accelerate my clients’ personal growth and expansion. I honor and respect every client’s boundaries and desire for what they want out of therapy. I find that the best work is achieved when the trust we have built together in therapy is strong. This allows your therapy to evolve as you do…"
When she wrote this post for It's Over Easy, the reaction from readers was overwhelming, and quickly became viral. This is the future of divorce.
What if we could create more love in the world through the process of breakups, separations, and divorce? This may sound strange, but it is entirely possibly for those who are willing to do the internal work. What I call mindful untethering. I have created 5 tenets to follow and come back to as guides for the internal "divorce" that is necessary for individuals to find peace, empowerment, and ultimately abundant love that lies within each one of us. Here are the 5 tenets.
Many people divorce externally on paper but they never divorce internally. People uncouple because they are unhappy, but that unhappiness will follow you if you don’t do the inner work of mindful untethering. The choice is yours to make this a growth experience or a tragic event that guides your life forever. So I like to start with, “Do you want to be happy?” Many clients will react with, “how can I be happy, I am getting a divorce?”
When we have all of these unhappy feelings inside, this can feel impossible. However, this is exactly why we need to untether ourselves internally from this pain so that we can let it go. If you don’t, you will never be divorced and never be truly happy. Give yourself the true freedom to be on a path of happiness. So if you said “Yes, I want to be happy” and you realize you have the power to choose this path inside, then we move to the next step, which tells you how to be there.
Children of divorce move from a normal category of children to an at risk category. The #1 predictor that they will move back into the normal pool is linked to how well the parents get along. I have seen this piece of information magically move many couples from battling with lawyers to recognizing that with mediation and therapy they have the power to preserve and grow a healthy and happy long-term relationship for ALL parties. The focus is on the health of the whole family. Even though it is a family in two homes, you will forever be tied together through your children. Do you want to be happy given this reality? You have the opportunity to grow more happiness and love by letting go of your own agenda (ego) and focusing on the whole. Remembering that the parents enlightened decisions provide the path that the children will follow. The way in which you continue to deal with your ex-partner has the potential to be a positive or negative influence on how your children will manage relationships in their future. Enlightened decisions create an environment in both homes that will stabilize and protect the children that you both love.
IF YOU ARE WILLING TO LOOK AT ANOTHER PERSON’S BEHAVIOR TOWARD YOU AS A REFLECTION OF THE STATE OF THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEMSELVES RATHER THAN A STATEMENT ABOUT YOU AS A PERSON, THEN YOU WILL, OVER A PERIOD OF TIME CEASE TO REACT AT ALL.
There are often many areas of “weaknesses” clients have identified in the other as well as within the self. Clients work with the weaknesses as things to let go of internally (often more pain to release), and see the blessing of physical distance to certain behaviors (e.g. cheating). Clients find it to be easier to not focus on the weaknesses because they are no longer cohabitating so it is less present in their life. The harder those challenging aspects of the ex are just direct the client back to more untethering of the relationship internally and more emotional releases. Finding that balance of each parent’s strength for the family and focusing on that helps to create a peaceful and centered family.
Through the use of these 5 tenets we can build a more compassionate world for children and families who will not look at divorce as a negative influence on their lives. Rather it can be seen as an evolution of their lives. I hope we can all work together to help create more love in the world.
Let’s assume the following scenario, for the sake of discussion. You are in a long-term marriage, which for whatever reason has run its course. You and your spouse have successfully raised your kids, who are grown and gone. The high earning spouse is the principal of a modestly sized small business, with about $1m per year in gross revenues. Additionally, the parties have two family LLC’s that own rental properties. However, the higher earning spouse has reinvested all surplus income (in good years) in the business, and has only a small 401(k).
In many situations the options are black or white – should you stay with your current partner, or is it time to end the relationship? However, humans operate in a world of finely nuanced grays, and the answer to hard questions is often more complex than a single “yes” or “no”.
Other resources have always existed to help a single partner or a couple resolve these difficult questions. These alternatives include individual therapy, couples counseling or pastoral counseling. But each of these resources have a particular goal. For example; the individual therapist hopes to help you be comfortable with your own identity and, in order to do that, has to create a therapeutic alliance with you, necessarily excluding your partner’s interests. Similarly, couples counseling usually has the goal of a helping couple to communicate better in order to preserve their existing relationship.
But what, if like many of us, one or both of the parties is not even sure she or he wants to preserve the relationship? What if both parties are unsure whether it is worth investing the significant time, energy and openness that couples counseling needs to succeed? Often one party is “leaning in” to the relationship, while the other is “leaning out”, but both are uncertain.