Archive for divorce

How to Cope when your Ex Moves on to a New Relationship

The American sitcom, Modern Family, makes separation and divorce look easy. The characters seamlessly move from one relationship to another, and the actors all appear to accept the ever-moving changes without seemingly registering any of them. Perhaps the clue here is the ‘the actors’. In real life, it’s not that simple!

I was speaking to a client about his ex-wife being in a new relationship. He told me how difficult it has been to see her so happy. What bothered him was her apparent ease at moving on and his fear was that she would have a new family and wipe out all the years they’d spent together. Feelings of anger at the way she finished their relationship quickly surfaced and he was left wounded and bruised by the whole experience.

When couple’s split up, there are endless issues to contend with. These range from the practical to the deeper emotions that surface – sooner or later. Many people find, that after the dust has settled and they finally feel more confident and secure within themselves that when their partners move on to new relationships, difficult feelings start to emerge all over again – sometimes far stronger than after the initial break-up.

When our partner moves into a new relationship, this is when we begin to feel that we’ve been left behind, and the narrative begins: “I will always be alone, and I hate him/her/ them”. When we focus on these thoughts, we forget to feel what’s really going on for us. Learning to stay with hurt and loss is how we heal and how we can then build our inner resources to let go and move forward.

At Coupleworks, we work with clients to try and normalise thoughts of loss and the difficult feelings that come with the end of a relationship. We work with clients to teach them that it is permissible to accept feelings that come up without judgment. It’s a process that takes time but, in my experience, clients do find their way out of the dark and start to make sense of the loss of the relationship and start to accept that their partner has moved on and so will they.

Tips on how to let go of relationships:

1. Allow yourself to feel whatever feelings that come up. These feelings can range from profound sadness to intense anger towards your partner.
2. Talk to people you trust: friends, parents or a therapist.
3. Go to couple’s therapy for a few sessions to put closure to the relationship and clarify any unresolved issues that might still be going on between the two of you.
4. Be kind to yourself and remind yourself that you won’t always feel the way you do now. There is a future.
5. Remember that your relationship was meaningful at one time, just because it’s over doesn’t mean it was a waste of time.
6. There is no time limit to how long it takes to get over a relationship.

Shirlee Kay

Couples and the UK-EU Divorce

After all the uncertainty over the past weeks and months we know now the UK has voted for a Divorce from our European neighbours.

The aftermath of this vote seems to be causing mayhem and anxiety amongst the political parties and stock markets around the world as everyone tries to come to terms with the biggest political decision made over the past 40 years. Millions of people are even signing a petition to reverse the Brexit decision.

Tensions are running high as Europe and the UK start to battle out how long the divorce will take and when the procedure for separation should start. Today Jean-Claude Juncker announces that “its not going to be an amicable divorce”.

Couples who come to Coupleworks are usually initially looking for ways to prevent separation and divorce and find a way of working through their difficulties. What we are witnessing being played out in front of us are parties who, as yet, have found no way of working through issues and building a future together.

However there are also couples who come into therapy recognising they have grown apart and reached the end of their relationship and are looking for ways of achieving an amicable divorce.

Here are some frequently asked questions that perhaps the political parties should have asked themselves before the vote to avoid one of the most bitterly fought political battles in living memory.

This is unknown territory – how do we start the process? Do we need a solicitor, or should we go to mediation?
How long will the process take?
What are the grounds for a divorce?
How much will it cost? Can we afford to break up?
How will we live and will everything have to be divided?
Do I need to move out?
Who gets the house and the pension?
What about the children and who will they live with and where?
How often will I see the children?
How do we prepare for divorce?
How do we tell the children?
What happens if we change our minds?
Sessions with a couples counsellor can provide personalised support to help and prepare clients emotionally through what can often be a long and painful ending process as they come to terms with the choices they have made.

Hopefully this country and our politicians in the weeks and months ahead will start to slow down and reflect on the best way forward for an amicable working Divorce rather than go into free-fall that seems to be happening today.

Dawn Kaffel

Silver Splitters

So much attention is directed to smoothing the jagged effects on children caught up in family separations that it can be harder to assess the effects on grown up ‘children’.
Divorce among the over 60s has tripled in the past 20 years, and the wider effects can cause substantial and often unseen ripples.
Parents matter, and they matter for longer than is often realised.
Suddenly the map of the wider family has to be redrawn, and the sons and daughters in their 30s can easily feel erased from the new systems
It can be tough to see those staid and predictable parents now attaching to new partners and becoming less available as they find links and the energy of different hopes. No longer are they just ‘there’ but now they may be engaging with an adolescent sense of fun and freedom.
As their kids grow up, these newer parental couplings become connected with to youthful optimism and their children will be excluded from this.
Sharing may have been a lifelong challenge with siblings, but with family groups shifting and reforming there may well be an unexpected group of extra family members now inextricably attached and causing refresh rivalries. What happens to the only child suddenly caught up in a stepfamily of several siblings.
Whose grandchildren will feel most favoured – what will happen to the established holiday rituals – and let’s not even begin to think of the unmentionable ‘inheritance’
These are some of the future concerns, but there is also the past. A mysterious place where assumptions are made and patterns of couples are internalised.
When parents divorce in their 60s, this will mean that children may start to question their own past. Unpicking family life and looking for clues can be a painful business. The children of later divorces may wonder if the parents ‘stayed together for the sake of the kids’.
That can feel like quite a guilt inducing burden.
Families need to engage and talk, and parents should feel free enough to look out for their own happiness but also to stay sensitive to the fact that the children may look like Grown Ups but there is a small child in us all. Happiness is Love. Let’s be careful with it.

Christina Fraser

Family Breakdown

Fewer than half of children will celebrate their 16th birthday with their parents still together. Penelope Leach is a research psychologist and well known for her books on early childhood development written in the 1970s. She has recently published a book called ‘Family Breakdown: Helping children hang onto both their parents’. It is written for parents, and professionals involved in supporting those parents, to help to find a way to divorce ‘better’, very much focusing on the perspective of the child.

There has been some controversy surrounding the book even before it was published. In particular she has been criticised by fathers and some psychologists for advocating that children under 3 should be with their primary caregiver at night and not have overnight stays away from them. In practice this means of course that for a high percentage of children this will be their mother. Her evidence for this comes from recent studies and developments in attachment psychology, although some have disputed this particular research. To say that she is against fathers is simplistic: rather she has emphasised the importance of the father’s role in a child’s development. She speaks to the needs of the child to be with their primary caregiver during those early years up to the age of 3, whether that is their mother or father.

All too often, despite the best intentions of parents, each partner will struggle to separate their trauma of separation and divorce from their relationship to the children. In that context therapy can be helpful to process some of the accumulated hurts and resentments to try to prevent these being acted out through the children. This book could be a useful addition to help parents find the dos and don’ts of what might be best for their children in the midst of a difficult and painful process.

An interview with Penelope Leach was broadcast on Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 at 10am on Monday 23 June. Listen here

Sarah Fletcher