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It goes without saying that divorce is a complex and often traumatic process that effects people emotionally, psychologically, socially and financially. The end of a relationship is similar to experiencing a death, of sorts, in that it involves loss. Even for those who initiated the breakup and believe that the breakup is the best thing for all involved, it can still be a tough journey. Plus, because most people do not educate themselves, prior to commitment, on what it takes to create a successful relationship, many bring to their divorce a wide array of emotional “issues” not only from the dissolving marriage, but from their earlier lives and experiences.
As a result of this tumult, many divorcing couples fall into several devastating traps, which have long-lasting repercussions. While my mission, as a certified life coach specializing in relationships, is to help single people and couples make wise relationship choices that lead to success (and avoid the trauma of divorce), I recognize that the divorcing couple can also benefit from the gifts the coaching process bears. Once a couple decides that the relationship is beyond hope, my intention is to help bring a conscious approach to the divorce process to off-set the collateral damage that often occurs as a result of a long, tough battle. This is why I offer my Coaching for Relationship Transitions (CRT) program, to not only calm the waters but help the divorcing couple gain the insight and skills to navigate the journey with as much equanimity as possible.
A Cure for What Ails You: Coaching for Relationship Transitions
Whereas many people regard divorce as a failure, I regard it as an opportunity because crisis forces change and Coaching for Relationship Transitions helps support that change. There is no doubt that the ending of a significant relationship is very thorny and painful, but with CRT, recovery is not only possible, it leads to potential the divorcing couple never knew they had. The process reminds us that it is within our power to learn and grow from the crisis or allow it destroy us. No matter where we are today, or what our circumstances may be, every one of us has enormous potential for creating a better life. It is out of this process that a person often finds the inner strength to attain major achievements in life. The power of working with a relationship coach helps many to find peace with their divorce, rediscover themselves and develop character strength. CRT is remarkably effective for couples or individuals who are looking to find composure with their divorce and serenity (if not joyfulness) in their new lives.
Taking the time for recovery and self-discovery, which is what Coaching for Relationship Transition supports, will pay big dividends as the divorcing couple moves forward in their separate lives. By enrolling in CRT during the divorce process, divorcing couples or individuals will:
> Gain clarity on and learn to honor individual values, needs, intentions and goals.
Too often, when in the midst of a traumatic event, most people lose a sense of “self”. They feel like a storm-tossed rudderless ship. The CRT process helps ground and stabilize the divorcing couple by helping them identify their own values, needs, intentions and goals.
This work is vital because our values are our deeply-held principles that reflect what is desirable, worthwhile, and important to us individually; they guide us in creating a fulfilling life. Values are the things that we believe are important in the way we live and work and knowing and articulating our values gives us the opportunity to know what we stand for, determine our priorities and gives us clarity about our deepest longing. Deep down, our values are the measures we use to tell if our lives are turning out the way we want. When the way we behave match our values, life is usually good – we’re satisfied and content. When these don’t align with our values, we can feel off-course and unhappy.
Values work in tandem with our boundaries, which are our personal guidelines of what we’re prepared to accept in relationships and from people. The clearer we are on our values, and the more we learn to honor those values, the easier it becomes to clarify and honor our boundaries. By honoring boundaries, we teach people how to treat and regard us and we avoid settling for less in our lives.
A need is something thought to be a necessity or essential required for life, such as being safe, secure and certain or being comfortable and experiencing pleasure, and are the immediate driving force in our lives. Everything we do or say is an attempt to meet our needs. Learning to recognize and honor needs is important for two reasons. First, when we don’t consciously recognize our needs, and the need is not met, we may behave in subversive, sabotaging ways in a blind attempt to meet those needs. Second, when we do consciously identify our needs, we can be proactive and calmly assertive in terms of meeting them. This leads to healthier interactions with others, because we are caring for ourselves.
Goals and intentions are defined as the end result of something a person intends to attain, accomplish, do, reach, or achieve. Goals are influenced by a person’s values and needs. They help us consider our current situation compared to where we want to be in the future and make decisions accordingly. Defined goals based on values and needs are like plotted navigation points – they help us get where we want to go and help us feel more satisfied with our outcomes. Lack of goals results in frustration and wheel-spinning.
> Manage emotions and foster better communication skills.
A divorce is a very difficult time, causing most divorcing couples to feel angry, fearful, upset, threatened, guilty and/depressed. But it’s also a time when the need for clear-thinking is at its paramount. Unfortunately, these heightened emotions eclipse rational thinking, causing most people to make regrettable decisions, act impulsively and communicate destructively.
Dealing effectively and maturely with the shock and pain of divorce requires awareness and a sense of spaciousness; the CRT process allows the divorcing couple to decipher and diffuse their emotions, by allowing them to listen to what their emotions are telling them, and recognizing what needs are not being met. By continuously focusing on needs, divorcing couples become aware of what’s alive and what would make life more fulfilling in the moment, thus allowing them to become more skillfully proactive.
> Avoid the blame game, and take responsibility for their outcomes.
One of the most prevalent traps divorcing couples fall into is the Blame Game, in which one partner points a finger at the other for a situation that he or she has created or significantly contributed to. Not only is blaming a non-productive form of communication, it can result in defensive behavior and bitter feelings from the person being blamed. In addition, blaming others is a symptom of refusing to accept responsibility for our own actions and outcomes. It not only hurts opportunities in life, it also promotes “victim” thinking where the partner gains short-term pleasure from feeling sorry for him- or herself or from eliciting pity from others. While victim-hood might make us temporarily feel better and appear as if we’re in the right, it also makes us helpless and perpetuates our problems. When we learn to accept responsibility, and discover how we contributed to the outcome, we put ourselves in a much stronger position to course correct for future success.
> Learn how to let their children be children.
Many divorcing couples put their children in the middle or use them as a tool for healing and/or revenge. Many don’t recognize that divorce can be unsettling for children who haven’t developed the ability to talk about what they truly feel and think and need. They live in the middle of an economic and emotional roller coaster, experiencing guilt, fear and confusion. Too often, children are forced to serve either as shields or saviors for their parents in crisis. It’s important to preserve their sense of safety so they can grow up to become fully functional and well-balanced adults.
Through the CRT process, divorcing parents will learn how to consciously put their children’s needs first and ensure that the divorce doesn’t cost them any more than it already has. Coaching for Relationship Transitions is a good option for coming to terms with an unwanted divorce. It’s wise to be sure the divorce is necessary, but if there’s no hope for the marriage, letting go as gently and as quickly as possible will save the sanity and the assets of both partners and their children.
> Learn how to skillfully create a new relationship – with their ex.
Just because a marital relationship ends, that doesn’t mean the parenting relationship is over. Divorcing parents will find themselves together many times in their child’s life, so having the maturity to create a good divorce is self-preservation and smart.
Those enrolled in the CRT process learn how to consciously start a new relationship with the ex-spouse. They will learn how to relate to each other as co-allies, nurturers and protectors of the children. They will co-create a parenting plan, resolve their differences and finish their emotional business so they can clearly see what is in the best interest of the children. (A side benefit of taking proper care of any emotional business now is the positive impact it will have on their ability to attract new and healthy romantic relationships down the road.)
> Develop a more productive support network.
Many divorcing couples lean on friends and family for support, but that can come with its own emotional baggage. Many family members push extremely hard to take the ex-spouse for all they are worth or hurt them in another way. In addition, the irony of divorce is that the person you reflexively turn to for support is not only unavailable but is, in many ways, the source of much of your current struggles. In traditional adversarial divorce, the person who was at the center of your emotional support system is now on the other side of the line, someone who might be acting to make things worse, not better.
What’s more, most divorcing couples wait for “breakup backlash” before seeking more objective support, when it’s often too late. Emotions run the gamut before, during and after a divorce. Decisions are made when people might not be at the best place emotionally to make them. Seeking out someone like a relationship coach, who can help create a safe, supportive, nonjudgmental and patient environment, can help you keep things in perspective and save quite a bit of emotional pain down the road.
> Learn how to skillfully transition into a new, healthy and satisfying relationship without perpetuating the mistakes of the past.
Most people, while still in the middle of the divorce process, want to immediately fill the void and rush into a new relationship. The prospect of being alone can be terrifying for many people after divorce, so they hope a new relationship will solve their emotional and financial difficulties. By avoiding taking responsibility for their life challenges and outcomes, many people hope to be rescued from them. This results in desperation, neediness and future relationship failure. In fact, studies show that people who divorce and enter into subsequent marriages have a greater likelihood of those relationships failing – which indicates that people repeat their relationship mistakes and don’t have the knowledge and skills needed to create successful partnerships. For couples that divorce and then marry new partners, the lack of emotional closure with their former partner often sabotages their new relationships.
The first priority of someone who has gone through a divorce (or is still going through it) is to work on him- or herself through the process of self-discovery. Self-discovery allows the divorcing couple to understand why the divorce is happening in the first, and recognize their contributions to what went wrong. By doing so, they avoid patterns and behaviors that would ultimately put them through further misery. The self-discovery process enables them to make choices that are in alignment with their life goals. It means they will be more able to balance heart and head and be immediately aware of any incompatibility issues that pop up in future relationships. With insight, they are less likely to be blinded and blind-sided and more likely to grow a healthy new relationship with a strong foundation based on compatibility.
> Save money in the long run.
Coaching for Relationship Transitions can actually save the client money because, unknowingly, and all too often, divorcing couples treat their attorneys as their emotional and mental sounding boards. They talk to their lawyer about their challenges and the dynamics with their spouse and, while some of this is pertinent to the outcome of the case, this is incredibly expensive support. Not only that, lawyers, while sensitive to emotions, for the most part are not trained to deal with them.
The Ultimate Up-side to Coaching for Relationship Transitions
Going forward into their post divorce lives, the skills that the divorcing couple learn in coaching are invaluable. Members of the divorcing couple often begin implementing the tools CRT has taught them, by talking through their difficulties, solving problems, making joint decisions and compromising instead of acting out in some way. Couples can actually learn healthier ways to communicate with one another, co-parent and get through difficult situations.
For families in transition, the children reap the benefits of having parents who can apply their communication and problem solving skills learned in CRT to their ongoing parenting relationship.
In the end, managing the thornier issues of a divorce with a calm and level head will pay off in the long run and both members of the divorcing couple will be in a much better position to create lives that they really, really love … and ultimately be able to attract a joyful, harmonious relationship with someone new.
(Note: this program is only available for private VIP coaching.)