Divorce – done with dignity and respect


93. Good Divorce

 

I’d like to think that with nearly 5 million divorces in the UK since the 1980s (about 150,000 per year) we’d be starting to hear stories of what worked and what didn’t when a couple went through their separation. I’d like to see a culture of sharing wisdom with the next generation; knowledge filtering out to men, women, families and lawyers about how best to navigate the divorce journey. I’d like to read in magazines and blogs, accounts of couples who put their children and wellbeing-for-all at the centre of their decision to shift from nuclear to extended family and that actually they made the subsequent life changes with ease and with a feeling of control and empowerment.

 

As yet, I’m really not seeing that information making it’s way in the mainstream media, however, I am meeting more and more couples who want a respectful separation and a working co-parenting relationship going forward. They come to me at Healthy Chat for mediation for 3 very important reasons:

  • They don’t want conflict to be at the centre of the separation they’re ready to make
  • They’re in agreement that living together is not bringing out the best in themselves or their children
  • They don’t want to invest £5000 – £25,000 in joint solicitor and lawyer fees when a divorce can be simply mediated and cost-effectively processed (and with the saved fees they can each holiday for a week in the sun!)

Here are the Top 3 suggestions on how to go about a peaceful divorce process:

 

1. Reject the myth of ‘divorce as a battle’

Choosing to separate because a marriage is no longer the best working model for a partnership or for parenting can be very liberating. The tradition model is one of conflict and battle and even when a couple can see the sense in divorce, often by the time they’ve each hired a lawyer to ‘protect their best interests’, the subtle suggestions of  ‘you could get more; you’ve been mistreated; your children might be taken away’ will drive a them into panic, blame and more legal-fee spending.

 

A more peaceful and up-to-date way of divorcing is to plan for a series of conversations (challenging at first perhaps – but they get easier) based around a concept of ‘more for all and less to none’. A couple and their children (age appropriately) can all be involved in these. Over a number of weeks and months a respectful and clear plan and time frame begins to evolve. Once that’s defined for everyone and all are in agreement, only then does the formal paperwork and reasoning get passed to a family lawyer to ensure the legal bit’s filed correctly.

 

2. Manage your expectations: commit 6 months to the process

An open mind is the trick to divorcing peacefully and in a reasonable time scale. There can be many mediated group and 1-2-1 conversations to be had during this time; each helping to clarify the wisest arrangements for both parties in relation to children, living arrangements, finances, work, re-training (if one parent requires extra support to up-skill to work for more income in the future), separation of possessions, holidays, pensions and future flexibility to re-negotiate the terms.

Will the transition be painful? – it’s different for everyone, but probably. Keep in mind that it will ease in time (especially if couples priorities compassion) and that remaining in a dissatisfying marriage for another 1-5 years before you get to this point creates extended hurt anyway.

 

3. Trust that conscious co-parenting is in your children’s best interest

Children sense tension in a household even if they can’t put it into words. They can end up being emotionally better off in the long term once their parents agree to step up, communicate and make some changes. It might be that, through some mediated conversations, some new skills and knowledge are learned and a marriage takes on a new lease of life and everyone is happier (it happens!); and it could also be that separating whilst keeping the children’s best interests at the centre of the changes brings similar happiness over time too.

 

For sure this is not a simple subject and relationships are different for everyone. Life is long and it’s a good principle to re-confirm that you have many choices of how the future can be. If you can’t quite work out how to get to where you want to go for now, then borrowing a brain at Healthy Chat to help you get clarity may be a very wise first step.

 

 

Jennifer Broadley is the founder of www.HealthyChat.co.uk. Since 2012 she has worked full time delivering therapeutic, life-changing conversations from her private practices in Aberdeen, Dundee and the north of Scotland. She additionally works with UK clients by phone and European clients by skype. In 2002 Jennifer set up an executive coaching company supporting the continued high performance of business leaders and entrepreneurs working for medium and large companies – she is still active in this sector through www.JenniferBroadley.com.

 

Jennifer was brought up in West Africa, educated in Scotland and lived and worked in Hong Kong, Australia and Indonesia before returning to a London base in 1997. She and her daughter now live on the UK's east coast, where she continues to coach and write. Jennifer is a writer and a published author. Her first book 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®, is available on www.Amazon.co.uk. For therapy or executive coaching enquiries please email, message or call Jennifer via her websites.

 



Successful divorce – is it doable?


14. respectful divorce

 

Best together? Best apart? Stay married? Get divorced? These are not assumptions I make when a husband, wife or partner comes to talk to me (either separately or together). Relationships are extraordinarily unique things and two (or more) people can be in one, be committed, yet still have entirely different perspectives about longevity, intimacy, sharing, friendship, ownership, control, roles and contribution within a household.

 

We learn models of what makes a ‘good’ relationship from what we observe when we’re growing up – parents, older family, couples we know from church, school or clubs. Possibly without conscious thought we hear stories and layer assumption after assumption onto ‘marriage’ or ‘living together’ and progress into adult life with those assumptions relatively unchallenged. Rarely do they match up when we get to the point of choosing a partner and moving to co-habiting with them.

 

The concept of ‘forever’ is hugely tied up with a successful relationships. But is that really the case? Or can we put this in a personal choice category along with: quantity of time spent with each other; common interests; matching faiths or philosophies; cultural or socio-economily similar backgrounds. These topics could be highly relevant or not at all – there’s really no right or wrong answer.

 

Some of the most common assumptions I hear are:

  • Yes, they’re happily married – they’ve been together for 30 years
  • They have 4 children and one on the way – they’re so committed
  • She’s his wife – of course she knows how he feels
  • Women are just better at nurturing and raising children
  • They must be happy … they never argue
  • They got divorced – that’s a failed relationships

This list is inexhaustible because no people who choose to live a chapter of their life together can ever fully know how that’s going to play out over the months, years and decades to come. One of the biggest challenges to a partnership that I see is when a person or couple reference their success against other couples, then register dissatisfaction because their relationship isn’t as supportive, happy, exciting or authentic as the couple they ‘think they know’.

 

It’s important to note that:

  • generally couples don’t disclose or dissect  their full experiences with other couples (there perhaps isn’t the time, isn’t the right trust, or there can be a sense of not wanting to be seen to be ‘failing’)
  • most couples are happy to share the fun, special or unusual event or experiences of their relationship – and not the routine, painful or challenging bits
  • often the people we seek advice from (older family members or friends) are having or have had similar challenges within their relationship. They may still together because they’ve developed tolerance (not a bad thing) but perhaps not always a deep understanding. They’re perhaps not fully equipped (or expert) then to offer you a well-thought-through strategy that will turn your relationship around

 

Successful relationships have a life cycle – they might well have ups and downs be destined for ‘forever’. They may equally have ups and downs and reach a point were one or both parties no longer see their futures together. Either way it’s the respect, the hope and the ability to communicate that will ultimately define whether successful divorce follows or whether successful togetherness continues.

 

 

Jennifer Broadley is the founder of www.HealthyChat.co.uk. Since 2012 she has worked full time delivering therapeutic, life-changing conversations from her private practices in Aberdeen, Dundee and the north of Scotland. She additionally works with UK clients by phone and European clients by skype. In 2002 Jennifer set up an executive coaching company supporting the continued high performance of business leaders and entrepreneurs working for medium and large companies – she is still active in this sector through www.JenniferBroadley.com.

 

Jennifer was brought up in West Africa, educated in Scotland and lived and worked in Hong Kong, Australia and Indonesia before returning to a London base in 1997. She and her daughter now live on the UK's east coast, where she continues to coach and write. Jennifer is a writer and a published author. Her first book 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®, is available on www.Amazon.co.uk. For therapy or executive coaching enquiries please email, message or call Jennifer via her websites.

 



Enough with tolerating


38. Freedom

 

This afternoon I chose to leave work a little early and go down to the pool for some exercise and some mind clearing. After 30 minutes and with 64 lengths done and dusted (that’s a mile exactly if you’re wondering about the random number) I headed to the showering area.

 

As I was washing my hair a woman with a young son and daughter pushed the buttons of the showers opposite. Whilst the mum and son quietly got on with their shampooing, the daughter felt the water on her back and said ‘burning, burning, burning …’. Strangely though, she didn’t step out from underneath the heat of the shower. She stayed in there chanting ‘burning, burning, burning …’ over and over again as her mum encouraged her to ‘get on with it, get your hair washed’ and re-pressed the water button for more.

 

Clearly the child wasn’t genuinely burning or anywhere near it, but it got me thinking …

 

How many of us tolerate ongoing discomfort on a daily basis without taking action to change things? How many people speak to friends and family about how demoralising is their job, or how disrespectful is their relationship, then get up the next day and tolerate it all over again. How many adults suffer weeks, months and years of repetitive, joy-less ‘burning, burning, burning …’ in their life expecting someone else to show up and rescue them? Far too many is the answer.

 

The dictionary defines tolerating as ‘allowing the existence, occurrence, or practice of something that one dislikes or disagrees with without interference’. So why do we do that? Where do we learn that that’s ok?

 

In my experience there are 2 main reasons: the first is that we’ve seen tolerating modelled to us from a young age (parents in an unhappy marriage for example) or society tells us there’s one right way (‘divorce would be failing’) and we haven’t thought to challenge those models; and the second is that tolerating creeps up on us so slowly and over such an extended amount of time that we’ve forgotten that the contrasting experience really exists.

 

Whatever the reason, if you’re reading this and you’re an adult tolerating stressful, depressing, disrespectful days on end, then it’s time to stop it. And the first step’s already occurred – you’ve noticed. Sometimes that’s all that needs to happen because then you’ll begin to spot that choices are available to you.

 

Choosing not to tolerate means making a choice for change.

 

And change doesn’t have to be sudden, severe or painful – I’m not advocating job quitting or relationship ditching (although they could be valid choices – only you’ll know). I’m saying this:

  • Start to pay attention to your discomfort
  • Use it to create a contrasting thought (eg. if I DON’T want to be given the routine tasks at work every day, it means I DO want to get involved with some special projects. Do you feel the empowerment of shifting a don’t to a do?)
  • Write down the outcome you want to achieve (it’s good to be reminded should you have some weaker moments)
  • Take action (talk to someone, research your choices, skill yourself up to get the result you want, be patient (your partner might take a while to get up to speed) and be persistent (don’t go back to how things were)
  • Review every day whether your thought changes, new conversations and action taking are getting you closer to the vision

You’re a valuable, smart, worthy human being. Choose every moment to believe that. When you stand up for happiness, you’ll be surprised who’ll show up to stand with you.

 

Jennifer Broadley is the founder of www.HealthyChat.co.uk. Since 2012 she has worked full time delivering therapeutic, life-changing conversations from her private practices in Aberdeen, Dundee and the north of Scotland. She additionally works with UK clients by phone and European clients by skype. In 2002 Jennifer set up an executive coaching company supporting the continued high performance of business leaders and entrepreneurs working for medium and large companies – she is still active in this sector through www.JenniferBroadley.com.

 

Jennifer was brought up in West Africa, educated in Scotland and lived and worked in Hong Kong, Australia and Indonesia before returning to a London base in 1997. She and her daughter now live on the UK's east coast, where she continues to coach and write. Jennifer is a writer and a published author. Her first book 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®, is available on www.Amazon.co.uk. For therapy or executive coaching enquiries please email, message or call Jennifer via her websites.