by Lynn Waldman, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, MSW
While your marriage may not have worked out, you have choices about how you divorce. While divorce can be extremely stressful, emotionally difficult and a life changer, there are ways to get through it with your dignity and finances intact, even with your family intact.
Most people probably do not think of divorce in terms of being a ‘success’ and may wonder, “Doesn’t divorce imply failure?” This is not productive. If a divorce is inevitable, there are choices you can make which provide you the help and guidance you need to make positive decisions about a healthier future.
The Collaborative Divorce process is one in which your whole family is considered; emotionally, financially and legally. Both parents are supported by a Divorce Coach and children work with a Child Specialist; everyone is supported. Of course the structure of your family will change, but your children will always be your children, and your co-parent will always be your co-parent.
As a Divorce Coach, I work with my clients to develop a concept for their divorce. Instead of going full-steam ahead with filings and contentious litigation, they develop the skills necessary to think about the process of how they divorce. It includes the ability to keep your end goal in mind and to have a vision for what things will look like down the road. They need to ask these questions.
♦ What do you want your life to look like in one year from now, or two years from now?
♦ What will your relationship look like with your children and your co-parent?
♦ How will you or your children cope emotionally?
An important role of the Divorce Coach, and vital to the client’s success, is to provide the opportunity for clients to be heard emotionally and emotionally felt. Divorce is a loss of hopes and dreams. Often, the feelings of loss are a similar to losing a loved one. Coping with the loss while keeping the process of the divorce in mind may feel overwhelming at times.
So, when clients come to me for their Collaborative Divorce, not only do we debrief their trauma, we find ways to help them regulate their difficult emotions. They learn how to communicate better with their soon to be ex-spouse. Clients learn ways to tolerate distress, because divorce and child custody disputes are extremely distressful. Clients learn how to ask for what they need in a way that will be heard by other people.
Clients need to make sense of what’s happening and this takes time. One focus of a Collaborative Divorce Coach is to help clients develop a lens for how they see things. Because if you see things differently, you will feel differently. Our thoughts impact our feelings and therefore our behavior. This is something we can control, which is good news. Clients going through a divorce need empowerment and need to feel control over their lives.
Recently, a client told me she was upset because she has to start over, but divorce does not have to mean starting over. You are not the same person you were. You have lived life, maybe had children, and grown as an individual. It is taking a different path in life, but you get to choose that path. How you view your divorce and your circumstances will have a long lasting impact on you, your children, your co-parent, and on your extended family and friends. A Collaborative Divorce Coach is a resource for support to keep you focused and to remind you — you have choices in this divorce process.