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How to Do a Mindful Divorce

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Dear Lisa,

My husband and I were married for 7 years, well eight actually. We’re still legally married, but we separated almost a year ago and are in the middle of what’s shaping up to be a nasty divorce. I got pregnant before I knew he was having an affair. Now we have a one-year-old baby girl, property to split up, and a mountain of debt. I have an attorney, he has an attorney, and at this point, I feel like we should hire one to represent our daughter.

I loved this man the minute I set eyes on him. I suppose a part of me still does, at least I think I should. But we are well beyond irreconcilable differences. So, divorce is unavoidable. I wish it were over, but it isn’t. We can barely look at each other, let alone, talk. I wanted this to be peaceful. It’s not. I wanted us to part friends. We won’t. Honestly, what I wanted was to be married forever. It’s over.

My question is obvious. With all this very turbulent water under the bridge, how can we get divorced peacefully and get on with our lives?

Amber,
Sacramento, CA
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Dear Amber,

First of all, I feel I owe you a disclaimer. I have an ex-husband, with whom I share a child, and we do not speak. I try very hard on this blog to give advice I follow and share thoughts that have worked for me. I was much younger when I got divorced, so I might want to claim a certain amount of immaturity as an excuse. However, almost 20 years later, my relationship with my ex is peaceful, only in that it’s nonexistent. What I know for sure, is our inability to repair a working friendship was, and may at times still be painful for our son. So, I understand your pain, but I also know the stakes are high.

Despite my personal experience, I know couples do it. In fact, I know couples who have done it. They are rare, but they exist. So, why not you?

Right now you see him in a very personal way. He’s someone who hurt you. That said, you need to begin to see him as a stranger and need to begin to treat him with the common decency you would treat a stranger. He’s just a human, doing very human things, and believe it or not, no matter how it feels, that is not personal. It’s not about you.

I think it might also be helpful to understand this. Your marriage is already over. The divorce is just paperwork. I’m not suggesting you run out and start another relationship. I am suggesting you don’t need to wait for attorneys and a court to give you peace of mind. You can decide it’s over now, and let the legal process unfold without drama. Get on with your life now. Don’t wait for anyone else to give you permission.

Everything feels important right now. I know. I’ve been there. But let me assure you this is temporary for you. The only person who will live with this forever is your daughter. So, she’s really the only person s interests are really important. I do not say that to make you feel guilty. I strongly believe children can thrive through a divorce. Children need parents who love them. Children need to know they are safe. Children need stability and sometimes that’s much easier to achieve outside a marriage than in a broken one.

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Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin weren’t the first people in the world to talk about “Conscious Uncoupling”. However, their willingness to talk about their decision publicly is changing the dialog about divorce. The thing that matters most in Conscious Uncoupling is the intention of it. It’s about learning from each other and about yourself through all parts and aspects of the relationship, including the end of the couple phase. It’s about blessing all of it, including the other. Both of you don’t have to be on board for that process for one of you to set the intention. You deciding to be conscious will change the playing field, no matter where he is on it.

You may have been somewhat tongue in cheek when you said you might need to hire an attorney for your daughter. However, in my opinion, you probably aren’t far off the mark with that line of thought. Believe it or not, for you personally, someday this man will be an afterthought. For your daughter, though, that will never be the case. He will always be Daddy. She is the most important thing in your life. You know that. You need to remember, he will always be one of the most important things in hers. So, from that vantage point, it’s important that he is always whole and healthy in the world.

Hiring an attorney for your daughter probably isn’t practical. However, getting professional support regarding how to craft a conscious separation with your daughter as the focus is a very, very good idea. If your ex-husband will join you there, great. If not, that’s not an excuse not to do it. At the end of the day, and the decade, and the decade after that, the only thing that will matter is that you did your best by her.

Love always rules. If you can’t love him, that’s OK. Love yourself enough, to be strong enough to take care of her.

Big virtual hugs,

Lisa

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Lisa Hayes, The Love Whisperer, is an LOA Relationship Coach. She helps clients leverage Law of Attraction to get the relationships they dream about and build the lives they want. Lisa is the author of the newly released hit book, Score Your Soulmate and How to Escape from Relationship Hell and The Passion Plan.

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