April 22, 2013

We Are Always Learning: A Healthy Divorce Metaphor

It was Mother’s Day weekend.  My daughter went into labor about 3:00 a.m. on Friday.  Because the baby was in breech position and couldn’t be turned, it would be a Cesarean birth.   It was a privilege to be there.

The next day I went to the hospital and our emotional “high” of joy and relief continued.  It’s rare to experience such intense feelings, and it gave me a deep insight.  A couple’s intimate relationship is so intense, it’s no wonder that if that relationship turns sour, negative emotions can be equally intense.  (And yes, I said a prayer that there would be no reason for divorce in this family.)

I’ve thought about this experience and insight often. All professionals who work with divorcing/separating couples are challenged by how to help them transition to a positive yet less intense relationship.

The most straight-forward metaphor I’ve found was in a book called Beyond Love and Hate: A Guide to Civilized Divorce (now updated and published as The Healthy Divorce–Keys to Ending Your Marriage While Preserving Your Emotional Well-Being), by Lois Gold, M.S.W.  Ms. Gold is a mediator and past president of the Academy of Family Mediators.  Her book was a little hard on lawyers,  but this was before anyone except for a few attorneys in Minnesota had heard of Collaborative Law.

Nevertheless I gave and still give this book to many clients, specifically for its advice about changing the relationship from an intimate one to that of business colleagues, whose business is co-parenting.  The concept is easy to understand; we all know we have to get along with colleagues or co-workers, whether we like them or not, and so we work cooperatively with them, treating them with respect and keeping good boundaries, and since our personal feelings are irrelevant, we we try to keep any negative ones unexpressed.

Mary Antonia WilmesABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Antonia Wilmes

Mary Antonia Wilmes’ career has been centered on families. She has been an attorney handling family law cases since 1985, has mediated family cases since 1993, and has handled collaborative cases since 2003. She is the mother of two and grandmother of six. Both Mary’s family and her clients continue to teach her how to best serve family members’ needs. Learn more about Collaborative Law also known as Collaborative Practice or Collaborative Divorce at our MN Institute website and at our international organization’s website.

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One Response to We Are Always Learning: A Healthy Divorce Metaphor

  1. I know couples who are even better at co-parenting after divorce than they were before the divorce, thanks to the skills they learn in the collaborative process.

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