Have you ever noticed that change excites some people and terrifies others? This is something that can be attributed to both our inherent personalities and our personal experiences. The human brain is surprisingly elastic and, as a result, if we’ve typically experienced change in a negative way, we’re significantly less likely to view it positively and vice versa. We’re all capable of feeling anxious, though; any one of us can become worried about the future and how our decisions will affect it, particularly when a major change, like the end of a marriage, is afoot. As normal as it is for a divorce to cause these negative feelings, though, my experience has taught me that they can be placated by asking yourself three simple questions:
1. Did you think your divorce through?
I’ve worked with divorcing couples for more than a decade now and I can confidently say that I can count on one hand the number of people that didn’t painstakingly consider their decision to end their marriages. Often, the couple will have attended counselling and/or therapy, engaged in multiple compromises, separated for trial periods and more. More often than not, when a couple decide to divorce, they’re making the right decision and, if a
couple can say that they’ve genuinely made an effort to try and save their marriage, they’re almost certainly doing the right thing.
2. How much will things change?
Surviving on one income; finding a new place to live; creating and adjusting shared-parenting plans – divorce can certainly have a substantial impact on how you live your life but, if you think about it, these changes are probably already in effect. When they get around to filing for a divorce, spouses have normally been living separate lives for several months if not years. This means that the relevant changes have already taken place, that those affected have adapted and are, more than likely, doing just fine. Such concerns nigh-on always stem from change-induced anxiety so taking a moment to think about how life has changed since separation is certain to allay them.
3. Can you put your differences to the side?
We’ve mentioned children before and, yes, you’re going to need to be flexible with your former
spouse if you’re both responsible for children. This often causes anxiety because people fear that their former partners will be unreasonable. This is understandable; people are frequently unreasonable, particularly when the matter at hand is emotive and, sadly, separated parents often fall out. Trust me, though, it’s not as bad as you think. These fallings out are usually minor and, provided you can recognise this, forgive your former spouse and move on, you’ll be absolutely fine. Remember, you’re both going to want what’s best for your children so you’ll have all the motivation you’ll need to make things work.
Even when couples have been living apart for some time, divorce can still be scary. We’re designed to find change, particularly big changes, stressful. This stems from a time when major alterations to our surroundings and arrangements often placed us in peril but, with this no longer being the case, anxiety can be tackled with rational thinking – and asking yourself the three questions above is a great place to start.
Jay Williams works as a case manager at Quickie Divorce, one of the largest providers of uncontested divorce solutions in England and Wales. He lives in Cardiff, Wales, with his wife and two-year- old daughter Eirys.
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.
Happy 2018! For the first post of the year, The Family Community is sharing a great new resource that is about to come on the scene - with your help. Single parents, together parents, stepparents, grandparents, anyone who has young children at home. Sara Morris and her husband Sam have cofounded a company called PopChart.Family. Sara and Sam are about to kick off a KickStarter campaign tomorrow! To tell you all about it, here is their short video:
In a marriage things get tangled up: there's one house, one name (if you are traditional), 'your' stuff becomes 'our' stuff, 'I' becomes 'we'. You become a unit.
As things unravel during a divorce, not only do you have to figure out how to separate your assets, you also have to figure out how to untangle your identities.
Personally, prior to my separation, I had spent my entire adult life with my ex-husband. Therefore, when it came to untangling our identities, there was a lot to figure out.
Dominique Andersen is the founder of STRETCH+BLOOM, where she helps unfulfilled high-achieving women reinvent their lives. As a divorcee herself, she's a strong believer in 'if it doesn't fit, change it!'. She is based In Berlin, Germany where she lives with her current partner. www.stretchandbloom.com
Divorce has become an extremely common occurrence in the past 50 years. And while the stigma has gone, one thing that remains anchored in people's mind is the idea that somehow you have failed.