“From this perspective, there are no bad guys, just two people, each playing teacher and student respectively. When we understand that both are actually partners in each other’s spiritual progress, animosity dissolves much quicker and a new paradigm for conscious uncoupling emerges, replacing the traditional, contentious divorce. It’s only under these circumstances that loving co-parenting can happen. It’s conscious uncoupling that prevents families from being broken by divorce and creates expanded families that continue to function in a healthy way outside of traditional marriage.”
In theory, this should be the goal for almost all divorces: Less hate, less anger, less bitterness, less blame. Both people would be aware that they contributed to the relationship ending as it had served its purpose in their lives and it is now time to move on peacefully.
I am recently and amicably divorced after a three plus year separation. My ex and I didn’t use the term conscious uncoupling; however, many of our friends have nicknamed our situation a “grown up divorce”-- a divorce where both parties choose to act like mature adults. Between friends and family, we have seen some ugly divorces where the goal became seeing how much one spouse could screw over the other spouse. My ex and I didn’t want that for ourselves, for our kids, or even for each other. There’s an internet quote that is attributed to anyone and everyone that says, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” I strongly believed that anything negative I tried to do to my spouse would just come back to hurt me, and that wasn’t what I wanted.
We didn’t use lawyers for our divorce. Lawyers serve a purpose, but this was not a time they were needed. We have children, property, and assets, but despite the dire warnings of the internet law sites, we were able to work out all the arrangements between us. Despite the fact I acted as our lawyer, the various fees and costs associated the divorce have totaled more than our relatively modest wedding twenty years ago. Divorce ain’t cheap.
Things were not a bed of roses between my ex-husband and me during the negotiation process. If our relationship had been perfect, we wouldn’t have been getting a divorce! We had used a wonderful couple’s therapist for 2.5 years as we worked to save and then dissolve the marriage. We agreed to use him as our witness and mediator as we worked through our divorce negotiations. That was a really great decision because it helped us to work through various emotional issues that came up as we dealt with custody and financial issues. It also was very helpful to just have a neutral third party whom we both trusted in the room to keep us calm and on task.
Our separation and divorce were intentionally slow, though under ideal circumstances it would probably have only been two years from separation to divorce instead of three. When my ex-husband initially moved out of our joint home, he moved into a rental house that is only nine doors down the street. This allowed the kids to have the security of being able to walk back and forth between the two houses any time they wanted to see the other parents. After two years, he purchased a house that is three miles from my house and in the school zone we both preferred for our kids. Since our kids are secure in their attachments to both of us and because we’ve been careful not to put the kids between us, they haven’t had any noticeable issues with the divorce. It’s been a smooth transition. My ex and I continue to make excellent co-parents because our parenting styles are so similar.
My ex and I still loved each other when we made the decision to divorce, but we also loved each other enough to know we are not the right partners for each other anymore. We both want the other to be happy with someone else. My ex-husband now feels like a brother to me, and the love I have for him is best described as fraternal. We’ve known each other for 27 of my 40 years. We still celebrate holidays together with the kids, and when we each partner again, we’re planning of having his-hers-and-theirs holidays. I view his future wife as my future sister-in-law, and I look forward to the additional love she’ll bring to the family.
While many of our friends praised this “grown up divorce,” others we know just don’t seem to know what to do. They don’t know how to handle a divorce that’s not bitter and ugly. It seems strange to them to have a divorce where the spouses still talk to each other and share friends. It’s not the traditional model of divorce they’ve grown accustomed to. For many, it would just be easier to cut the ex-spouse out of the picture and pretend nothing ever happened rather than confronting the personal emotions that come up around divorce.
I suspect that just as some have been befuddled by the conditions my divorce, most Americans just didn’t know what to do with a “conscious uncoupling” and in their discomfort, they turned to ridicule. I am sure part of that antagonism was partially just skewering Paltrow and Martin for being famous and in the spotlight. But for others, I would guess that there is some jealousy of what they didn’t experience in their divorces or their parents’ divorces. Instead of ridiculing celebrities for modeling a positive approach to divorce, it would be great if our society could celebrate a former couple for doing what’s best for them and their children.
© 2014 Green Heart Guidance