As part of our “New Year, New Start” series of blogs, here is our third piece in which Jo Harrison, a Counsellor and Family Consultant at Family Law in Partnership discusses the importance of reflecting on how your divorce is progressing.
This blog is a simple short call out to ask – do you want your divorce to carry on the way it is going throughout 2020?
I say this because I work with people who are going through painful, sometimes high conflict divorces, and it turns out that, through reflecting on their own part in the dynamic with their partner, often they can do something to change the course of their divorce.
It isn’t easy facing up to how you might be contributing to a difficult dynamic in your divorce. It is much easier to blame the other person in the relationship, and not have to put yourself in their shoes, and think about how you might be provoking or upsetting them, or perpetuating a difficult dynamic between you. It isn’t easy to take some responsibility for difficult things that have happened, or to acknowledge how you might have hurt someone. It also isn’t easy to own up to how bad you are feeling, or to how sad your kids might be feeling.
I once went to a talk about dealing with toddlers, and the parenting coach (a wonderful woman called Nancy Albanese) said that if every day you are having the same fight with your toddler, and every day is GroundHog Day, then it’s time to address it.
I think the same is true about divorce. If you keep having an argument about your co-parent in relation to handovers with the kids, then it may be time to address it. Or if you keep arguing about the level of maintenance, similarly, it may be time to address what this is really about.
One way of addressing these GroundHog day situations is to really take some time to reflect on the situations and try and understand what is going on, and what your part in them is. To think about whether coping with them in a different way could shift something. This is what I try to do with my clients who are divorcing, whether seeing them individually or in with their ex.
We know that unresolved difficulties between couples create real difficulties for ongoing co-parenting. Sometimes facing up to these unresolved difficulties can really shift some of the pressure off the children caught up in their parents’ divorce.
If 2019 was full of lawyers’ letters that made you angry or sad, or full of GroundHog day moments with your ex, then it may be worth considering an initial consultation with a therapist to consider whether there is a different way of dealing with your divorce and a different way of understanding the difficulties.
Jo can work with couples who want to invest in their relationship or prepare for making a greater commitment to each other, e.g. getting married or entering into a civil partnership. This work can be tailored to the couple’s wishes and needs. Some might want a structured series akin to a “marriage preparation course” and some may want to use the time to air expectations and concerns. Differences and similarities can be thought about or couples may wish to use the time to think about how they want to behave with each other and what behaviour may or may not be acceptable. By working in this way, it helps to support the couple’s own problem-solving skills.
For further information on how Jo can help you to approach relationship issues, contact Jo at E: firstname.lastname@example.org or T: 020 7420 5000.