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Divorce and Separation - Conscious Uncoupling

Is a peaceful and friendly divorce possible?

Separation & divorce are inevitably painful. In couple relationships we open up and share so much of ourselves and our lives together. It is from the same depth that we begin letting go, mourning and grieving our partner and the relationship itself. This process has its own pace and can take quite a while to complete.


1. How realistic is a friendly divorce?

The reality of a friendly separation comes down to how much each person is willing and able to take responsibility for their part in the relationship and the reasons it no longer worked. Remembering the loving intention in the experiences and good times shared goes a long way in this. Owning our own pain is crucial to not blaming the other person. We hurt less when we are able to forgive them and ourselves for mistakes made, regrets or disappointments.


2. Is it healthy to remain friends or do both parties deserve a clean break?

It is only healthy as long as it is positive for both people. For remaining friends to be healthy, then both people must have the same expectation of what it means to stay friends, and genuinely want each other to be fulfilled and happy in life, even if it’s with someone else. Often couples separating will take a considerable amount of time without contact to give themselves a clean break before seeing if they can be friends. It is important for each person to decide whether staying in contact is a free choice, or whether it is for more co-dependent reasons such as not wanting their ex to meet someone else.


3. How realistic is it to go from lovers to friends?

When two people come together to form a couple relationship then a third entity is formed – the relationship itself. The relationship then either thrives or dies based on how both people nourish it or starve it. If the foundation of the relationship was a strong friendship, where both people equally invested and nourished it, then it may be very possible to let go of the couple relationship and create a new relationship – friendship. The basis of this is love and respect. If these were not present as they needed to be in the couple relationship, then they are unlikely to be present in a friendship either.


4. Divorce is so emotionally wrought – how can you control the extreme emotions like hatred and anger to salvage a friendship?

Divorce and separation are healing journeys. When we can view it from this perspective, then our pain has a purpose – we can learn from it. We can learn what mistakes we made, alongside the things that we learned to value and cherish in a partner. If we truly loved our partner when we were together, then we should not allow ourselves to hate them, or stay angry or blaming them. These behaviours only create more painful emotion for us and ultimately hold us back from finding happiness with new love. Excessive emotion acts like a fog in our mind and makes it very difficult to make decisions in our best interests. When we let these heal, then we can more easily decide if remaining friends is best for us.


5. What does it take to work through the emotional stages of divorce and come out the other side on good terms?

When a long term relationship ends, it can be very emotionally traumatic for each person. Adjusting to the life changes that occur as a result takes time, and regardless of who initiated the break-up, both people have been profoundly affected by their situation. Worries about financial solvency, employment, or housing may affect them. Stress over losing friends or family members as a result can be difficult to deal with. Loss of the future that was hoped for together as well as overcoming guilt if there are children involved can cause emotional distress.

Going through a separation, we may be facing feelings of guilt, fear, anxiety, depression and grief as well as learning life lessons that can be brought into future relationships. It takes time and the right supports until we gain an objective and rational perspective on the journey of the relationship, and begin to navigate life without our former partner. People who rely on therapy during that difficult time can benefit from learning more about themselves and see the life transition as an opportunity for growth and personal development.


6. What is the secret to recovering from a divorce?

Total honesty with self is the first step in healing from a divorce. We need to be fully truthful as to why and how the relationship ended as it did and not denying our part in it. Our strength grows from being totally willing to take responsibility for healing ourselves afterwards, and steering our thoughts away from blaming and hating our ex. One of the more most difficult aspects is that we are no longer able to turn to our partner for support as we used to. We have to find our own path again.


7. When children are involved, how can you make the process as painless as possible?

Age appropriate truthful communication is helpful as children will intuitively know anyway when things are not ok. However they can absorb the energy of arguments and tension and feel like it is their own. When the adults in the situation are fully taking responsibility for their emotions, and for creating the situation, then the children are spared a lot of pain. It is essential that each parent speaks respectfully about the other parent to the child, remembering that they are talking about that child’s Mom or Dad. It is beneficial to keep reminding them how they are loved by both parents but that the parents have decided to end their relationship & further stating to them that they are not to blame for what’s happened.


8. How can you stop common factors like money getting in the way of an amicable divorce?

Not everyone is on an equal footing when it comes to money, and for one person separating their survival may depend on how much they fight for it. By not blaming, or not letting ourselves get bitter or feel resentful then we are less likely to try and take revenge or attempt to punish our ex. Excessive hurt and pain will cloud our decisions, but by effectively dealing with our emotions we make it easier on ourselves and keep the separation process simpler. Treating ourselves and our former partner with care (they are hurting too) and behaving towards them in a way that is respectful will always help.


9. How can you learn to look back on fond memories without feeling hurt and pain?

The process of healing requires that we revisit the memories of all that we shared with the person and allow ourselves to feel whatever feelings are linked with them. Acknowledging these feelings, and allowing a space to express them, cry them etc, allows them to heal. When we can look back at a memory or an experience shared and not feel painful emotion, then we know we have fully healed and resolved it with ourselves.

For any couple going through separation & divorce it is essential to seek adequate supports. For many this may be found in close friends and family but accessing professional supports may accelerate the healing & moving on process. The more of the pain that is dealt with lovingly & understandingly then there will invariably be less problems and less arguments that might make it easier to be friends. Any couple that can still show each other respect and genuine well-wishing after separating is truly honouring the love shared between them, and honouring the relationship they created.


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