Your Pre-Divorce Holiday Season Coping Guide

There are many unanswered questions that you may face in the New Year, but for now coping with the reality is a challenge.

There are many unanswered questions that you may face in the New Year, but for now coping with the reality is a challenge.

by Lynn Waldman, LCSW

Have you been facing this holiday season with a mix of emotions; on one hand, hoping things will get better in your relationship, while at the same time dreading another holiday feeling stuck, empty, alone and wondering why you stay?

Suppose part of you has decided you are going to leave your marriage, but you need to get

Lynn Waldman, LCSW

Lynn Waldman, LCSW

through this holiday season for yourself and for the sake of your children. There are many unanswered questions that you may face in the New Year, but for now coping with the reality is a challenge. Staying calm in front of family, friends and children may be one of your goals.

Clients often struggle with how to make the best of things until they can leave their relationship. One coping strategy that works for clients begins with letting go of expectations. Letting go of hoping things will change or get better or that you will feel differently. Sometimes it is a relief to just accept things as they are. With acceptance comes a willingness to let things unfold and be as they are, as opposed to a sense of willfulness and of trying to change things we have no control over. To feel the willingness of accepting things as they are, try sitting with your arms slightly outstretched, palms up, take a breath, and repeat to yourself, “it is what it is.”

Another coping strategy is to check into your thoughts. When we have difficult feelings, it is often due to a difficult thought lurking somewhere in our minds. We may not even be aware of the difficult thought. With the difficult thoughts and feelings we often engage in behaviors we may regret. Try and identify those thoughts and feelings. Naming feelings often releases us from the overwhelm. Also, ask yourself, “what else may be true besides my difficult thought?” Focus on the facts of the situation, and if you need more information, seek out professionals who may be able to help. Remember, just because we have a thought or a worry, does not mean it is true.

In going forward with your divorce, the Collaborative process is one that takes into consideration, not only the legal and financial aspects of your marriage, but also your emotions and the emotions of your family. A Collaborative divorce coach offers assistance with coping skills to help you manage through the transition of divorce while focusing on the best resolution for everyone.

While this holiday season may be the last you will spend under the same roof with your spouse and co-parent, you certainly will have many more holiday seasons to come. Making the best of this season may be the best gift you can give yourself and your children this year.

What Is A Divorce Coach – and Do I Need One?

A Divorce Coach can help couples maintain caring and respect through the process to help the entire family move forward in a healthy way. Photo: Josh Kenzer, Creative Commons license

A Divorce Coach can help couples maintain caring and respect through the process to help the entire family move forward in a healthy way. Photo: Josh Kenzer, Creative Commons license

by Lynn Waldman, LCSW, and Tina Mears, LMFT

lynn2_md

Lynn Waldman, LCSW

Couples starting the Collaborative Divorce process understand they will be working with family law attorneys to help facilitate the legal requirements. They also recognize the advantages of working with a neutral financial professional such as a Certified Financial Planner or Certified Divorce Analyst, especially when there are important assets or property involved as part of the financial settlement.

But some couples don’t initially think they need a divorce coach. They say, “Well, we get along fine and we don’t need help,” or “I’m coping with everything OK, so why do I need to see a therapist?” Sometimes there are concerns, especially in Collaborative Divorce, about paying for “all these people” when they don’t seem necessary.

After many years of experience as licensed mental health professionals working with divorcing couples through the Collaborative Process, we can tell you that the investment in your emotional well-being throughout your divorce will benefit you not only today, but for many years to come.

What Is A Divorce Coach?

A Divorce Coach is a licensed mental health professional trained to assist clients with the emotional challenges of divorce, communication, parenting plans and preparation for the future. Through Collaborative Divorce, clients work on multidisciplinary teams with attorneys, fina

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego with divorce solutions. Call 858-472-4022

Tina Mears, LMFT

ncial specialists and other professionals, sharing information through a transparent process with the goal of a family-centered resolution.

How Can A Divorce Coach Help During a Divorce?

A Divorce Coach can play a critically important role in helping couples work through the process by addressing challenges in communication, emotional coping skills, and parenting.

Communication

  • Identify underlying needs and wants and how to express these interests clearly.
  • Teach communication strategies around decision-making and problem-solving.
  • Facilitate the negotiation so that everyone feels heard and solutions are found.
  • Communicate with each other, with attorneys and financial specialists frequently.

Emotional Regulation

  • Offer skill based strategies for managing emotions.
  • Provide structure when facilitating difficult conversations and negotiations.
  • Facilitate client control of the process and maintain the client’s vision for the end result.
  • Help a client’s attorneys understand individual roles, the dynamics of the team and how both affect the Collaborative Process to work more effectively.
  • Help professionals understand how relationship dynamics affect the Collaborative Process and prevent or address stumbling blocks when they occur.

Parenting Plan:

  • Offer parents a safe place to propose and discuss possible parenting plan options.
  • Consider developmental stages of children in parenting plan proposals.
  • Allow difficult emotions to be present in working through child sharing arrangements.
  • Offer insight into developing a roadmap for the new dynamics of the family.

Sometimes by default, couples begin to see their attorneys as surrogate therapists or coaches. This is understandable but not productive. Attorneys are not trained mental health professionals, and their role is to provide their valuable legal expertise. It is not an effective use of time or money to try to work through mental health issues with legal professionals.

In the long run, you will work through your emotional challenges far more easily and effectively with a trained mental health professional who understands the Collaborative Process to work with you as you navigate this critically important chapter in your life, and help prepare you and your family for the chapters ahead.