Un-Coupling: Can It Be Done Successfully?
I met an attorney for coffee the other morning and I have to say I love getting to know other business owners that have a completely different area of expertise than me. Don’t get me wrong…I love my therapist friends and colleagues, but it’s always fun to connect with different people doing different things.
Anyways, she asked me if couples come to therapy just to divorce. And the answer is yes. Not all couples are successful in therapy and some come just to un-couple. In fact, most couples that come to therapy to find a way to break up is because there are kids involved; not all, but most. They’re mindful of how hard the process can be and want to minimize the impact on their children.
It’s often really intense work, because these couples have waited so long to come to therapy and so much damage has been done to the relationship that it becomes unrepairable. It can also be extremely painful, especially if one partner is still holding out hope that the relationship can be healed, but the other is clearly done.
And I applaud this work. In fact, I welcome it in a lot of ways. The reason? Because it takes a hell of a lot of courage to come to therapy to find a way to break up in the healthiest way possible.
The end to any relationship is loaded with an intense mix of feelings, huge layers of grief and loss and a complete shift in all that is known.
And ending a marriage is the hardest of all relationships to end.
Not only do you have all of the emotional healing to manage, but you’ve got the legalities to navigate as well. Throw in a few kids, a dog and some shared property and you know the reason why experts say it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever get through.
So how do you un-couple successfully? Can it be done with minimal damage to all involved? Follow these steps and you’re definitely moving in the right direction.
1. Start small. Un-coupling is an amazingly intense process. Don’t expect huge shifts overnight. I promise small steps will add up to huge miles if you take it slow.
2. Keep it in perspective. Staying mindful of the little ones (or others) affected by the break up helps you to keep in perspective why you’re un-coupling in such a conscious manner.
3. Celebrate the successes. Un-coupling can feel like failing, but that’s not the truth. The folks I work with who are un-coupling have worked really hard to make the relationship work with little success. Their decision to break up is one that has been made very thoughtfully. Choosing every day to treat your ex with respect as you un-couple is success ,and it should be consistently celebrated.
4. Take care of yourself. You’re going to feel a thousand different feelings. I repeat…you’re going to feel a thousand different feelings. Don’t judge them and don’t act on every single one. Find ways to take care of yourself so you can weather this storm.
5. Get support. You CAN NOT un-couple on your own. Well..ok…maybe you can, but it’s not often successful. Reach out for support from friends and family who aren’t going to bash your ex but instead allow you to process your feelings.
6. Seek out the help of a therapist. Or another neutral third party. Communication and respect need to be worked on and repaired in order to un-couple the healthiest way possible.
If you’re in the process of un-coupling or know someone in your life that is, please send them this post. It’s not an easy process by any means, but it is one that couples can do with grace and mutual respect. If you’re struggling in your own un-coupling, I encourage you to reach out.
I’m here to answer any questions and offer as much support as possible. That’s why I do this work. Send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call, 916.955.3200.