Category Archives: Divorce and Children

having an amicable divorce

The Imperative of Having an Amicable Divorce

having an amicable divorceThis week I am reminded why Divorce Essentials and the Divorce CompanionTM exist – because having an amicable divorce is an imperative.

 

I recently got a call from a client who was shedding desperate tears after a judge was so harsh on her and her attorneys that she left the courtroom feeling completely disempowered and helpless. In debriefing with my client, there was a palpable sense of victimization, as though the process had truly broken down and there was nothing she could do to improve her situation.

 

This sense of disempowerment is exactly the experience that Divorce Essentials and Divorce CompanionTM are designed to alleviate. And this is an imperative…

 

 

At a time when family structures change so frequently, placing critical decisions that affect the health and welfare of parents and children in the hands of an overworked and under-resourced court system leaves everyone more broken than whole.

 

The reason why divorce cases end up in court is because parties cannot resolve issues on their own. Sometimes this is because one partner has been more powerful in the marriage and the other is afraid. Sometimes this is because there is anger and people are looking to the divorce process to punish their partner or provide restitution for pain and suffering. Sometimes couples use the court system because they think it is the best way to get a fair ruling.

 

The truth is that marriage and family is the most intimate aspect of anyone’s life and there is no way that a legal system can possibly bring satisfactory resolution to issues in this area. Let’s face it, having 10, 20 or 30 years of marriage and all that has meant placed on one side of the scale against the bank account, furniture, and 401k can be one of the most painful and demoralizing experiences one can have. How do you place value on having cared for someone when they were sick or the efforts and sacrifices made to support a family? No, there is a no way a legal system can offer the penetrating resolution that most couples are looking for.

 

What we do know, however, is that when a case ends up in a courtroom, partners give up control over their destiny and they end up spending a lot more money to become unmarried.

 

And this is why I created Divorce Essentials and the Divorce CompanionTM. There has to be a better way. As Albert Einstein said, “You cannot resolve a problem with the same mindset that created it.” Taking the anger that has erupted during the breakdown of the marriage and fueling it with the adversarial nature of family court, can only make the problem worse. It can seem enticing to turn the problem over to someone else, but to hope that a court system with few resources and little time will accomplish what a couple could not do on their own – a fair settlement that truly honors the best interests of the children and empowers both partners to move on with their lives – makes no sense at all.

 

What this means is that the burden of achieving a non-adversarial outcome in divorce is – where it rightly belongs – on the couple who chose to marry. While this may seem like an impossible task… How can two people who have been arguing and making each other feel badly achieve this?… It is not.

 

The way to achieve the seemingly impossible is by reaching for the appropriate support. Every couple who has ever achieved the amicable divorce, succeeded in doing so because they (a) made the choice to achieve it and (b) found the resources and support they needed. This is how my husband and I did it and how every couple who has ever achieved this got there.

 

There is nothing easy about it. Divorce is one of the most difficult life transitions that there is, and yet, it is possible to do it well. Like raising a child, it takes a village of personal and professional support. And it takes the right kind of support. It takes the support of people who are deeply committed to helping you find a healthy path to a positive future. Your team may include a coach, an attorney, a mediator, a therapist, a clergy person, your best friend, a realtor, a coworker… But the team members that will get you there are the ones that push you to show up as your best self, not the ones who fuel the flames of anger and fear. And YOU are responsible for determining WHO is on your team.

 

Here are some questions to help you find your way:

 

If you are considering divorce, ask yourself this question, “What do I most need right now to help me get unstuck and take deliberate and intentional steps in a healthy direction?”

 

If you are building your divorce support team (legal, emotional, financial), ask yourself, “What are the qualities of the professionals, friends and family members who will help me achieve what I most want?”

 

If you are navigating divorce, as yourself, “How am I showing up to this divorce process? What do I need to do to be a person I feel proud of in this process?

 

And if you are truly committed to staying out of court and allowing this process to become a reflection of your BEST self rather than you WORST self, we are here to support you.

  • If you are considering or just beginning to pursue divorce, check out the Divorce CompanionTM – the most comprehensive resource available to support a healthy divorce process.
  • If you are anywhere in the divorce process and are committed to a deliberate and mindful process and would like support in achieving this, let’s chat.

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Adina Laver is the founder of Divorce Essentials™ and author of the Divorce Companion™ a multi-media step-by-step guide to navigating divorce.  The Divorce Companion™ is the only resource of its kind that provides guidance and decision making tools for every aspect of the divorce process, including determining whether divorce is the next step.

Adina also provides limited one-on-one coaching support for those who recognize that divorce is a sign that life has gotten off track and are aching to finding happiness again – or perhaps for the first time ever.

 

 

 

 

 

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Respect, Responsibility & Resilience

3 R’s of Parenting: Respect, Responsibility & Resilience

It is fairly universal that parents want their kids to be happy and healthy, respect themselves and others, take responsibility for themselves and follow through on commitments, and demonstrate resilience. We want these things for our kids, and even if life presented NO extenuating challenges, it would be a monumental challenge. Throw in doses of reality such as health issues, divorce, learning differences, job loss, (this list could go on and on), and the task seems downright daunting.Respect, Responsibility & Resilience

 

Raising children we love to embody these qualities without living a life of stress and guilt demands that we pursue a mindful and intentional approach to our most important responsibility of parenting.

 

I recently reviewed a newly released book, Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent You Hate by Deborah Gilboa, MD. Gilboa’s book is organized around the three R’s: Respect, Responsibility and Resilience – what these things really mean and what they look like in the parent-child relationship (ages birth – 12) – and concludes with a section on how to actually make change happen in your house.

 

Giboa’s book does not focus at all on divorce, AND here is what I like about it for all families, including those who are going through a divorce… Gilboa is clear about one critical idea… What kids need most is for their parents to be the parents. Guilt and shame we feel at different times are never really useful when making parenting decisions, and they are even less helpful during transitions such as divorce when our kids desperately need us to be clear and to create a safe and stable environment.

So, here is a sampling of some of Gilboa’s wisdom. I invite you to think about how it applies to your family dynamic as you read.

 

Respect, Responsibility & Resilience

 

RESPECT

According to Gilboa, respect is the ability to recognize someone’s (your own or another’s) worth and excellence and communicate it. She asserts, how we treat ourselves and others is the most important concept we can teach our children. Why? Here is some of what she has to say:

  1. Self-esteem is built on self-respect. When children learn to take care of themselves – their bodies, personality and needs, then they know they deserve to be treated well.
  2. Self-respect gives children the ability to walk away from disrespect such as negative peer pressure and abusive relationships.
  3. Showing respect is a skill that takes time to learn. While it is easy for kids (and us) to detect when we feel respected, learning to respect someone else requires some explicit guidance.
  4. When kids are taught to demonstrate respect to their parents and the adults around them, they place greater value on those relationships and learn more from them.

 

Most of us have been guilty of lowering our “respect” standard at one point or another, particularly when we feel that our kids are stressed or are going through something difficult. We do things for them rather than expecting them to do them for themselves and we accept more disrespect than we would like. While there are no universal answers, Gilboa challenges us to think about what we are trying to achieve as parent in long-term terms rather than short-term terms. What are we teaching through the choices we are making?

 

RESPONSIBILITY

Responsibility, Gilboa says, is about learning to be reliable, dependable, and to meet your obligations. Children [do] Learn What They Live and teaching them to be responsible is one of the keys not only to their success but also to their happiness. Why? Because the ability to be responsible coupled with initiative to grab opportunities is how we achieve our dreams. In other words, when children learn how to be reliable, dependable and meet their obligations, then they learn to trust themselves in all kinds of situations. They learn how to follow things through from beginning to end, they learn how to show up in uncomfortable situations, and they learn how to gain the trust of others.

 

Children of divorce often have to take on more responsibilities in single-parent homes. As parents, it is easy to feel guilty about this because we are ‘making our kids’ lives more difficult.’ Shifting the perspective a bit, we can look at a change of life or a new situation as an opportunity for kids to take on new responsibilities and develop additional confidence. Perhaps the change is enabling them to discover how much they have to contribute to the home. They may not always enjoy it, but what is the long-term gain of learning to be reliable and dependable at an early age?

 

RESILIENCE

Resilience means learning how to handle life when nothing goes as planned. Every challenge our children face is a chance to learn resilience. If we think about it, “making it perfect” is much more about our trying to prove our worth (personally guilty here!) than it is about what our kids’ needs or what is best for them. How we react when things do not go as planned, is far more valuable a life lesson than how to make things turn out ‘just right.’

 

Divorce, of course, (I couldn’t resist), like many other life challenges, is a suitable time to cultivate resilience. While we acknowledge that as parents

  • we love our kids and want what is best for them,
  • we have a primary responsibility to protect our children from harm, and
  • we (all) burden ourselves with a degree of guilt (for working too many hours, not working enough, being too easy, being too hard, buying too many things, not being able to afford to buy enough ….and so on and so on),

 

when is it really necessary or important for us to step in and protect our children from emotional or physical discomfort and when is it better to step back?

 

Gilboa provides a standard: Is it life-threatening or is there true physical or emotional danger? If the event ends badly, is there something valuable that could be learned? Let’s consider…

 

  • When do we step in to make things easier out of a sense of guilt?
  • When do we step in and solve a problem because we want to spare our child discomfort?
  • When do we jump in to save the day so that our child will be spared the consequences of their own failure to act responsibly?
  • When do we step in and fix things because it makes us feel relevant?

 

What would really happen if we didn’t?

 

This is the journey of parenting. How do we figure it out? Every child is unique and every parent is unique. In Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent You Hate, Gilboa offers practical advice to provoke our thinking about how to raise children in an intentional and conscious way.

 

Another valuable resource, specifically for parents going through divorce or navigating on the other side of divorce is Parenting Apart: How Separated and Divorce Parents Can Raise Happy and Secure Kids by Christina McGhee. Parenting Apart offers effective ways to minimize the effects of divorce on children, and offers immediate solutions to the most critical parenting problems divorce brings.

 

Christina McGhee will be my guest on the upcoming FREE support call I host each month: Preparing for Divorce. Join us on October 15th from 12:10 – 1:00 pm EST as we discuss: What Your Child Really Needs. You can register here.

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Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Ala Carte Session or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

 

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Mrs Doubtfire

Divorce Wisdom from Mrs Doubtfire

As the world pays tribute to one of Hollywood’s greatest legends, I took the opportunity to re-watch one of Robbin Williams’ most famous films, Mrs Doubtfire.  In addition to all the comedic brilliance that is built into this film, it also contains great wisdom for both divorce and life.

6 Lessons on Divorce from Mrs Doubtfire   Mrs Doubtfire

In the 1993 classic, Mrs Doubtfire, Robbin Williams plays the role of Daniel, an unemployed voice over artist who is viewed by his successful corporate wife, Miranda (played by Sally Field) as irresponsible and incapable of disciplining the kids or keeping order in the house. After a birthday party for their son gets wildly out of hand, she tells Daniel she wants a divorce. They have grown apart and she doesn’t like who she has become while married to him. (Click here for a full synopsis).

 

Both funny and poignant, Mrs Doubtfilre offers six lessons on divorce for couples, friends and family members:

#1 – Divorce is not the end. One of the things the divorced couple is faced with is the realty that divorce is not the end. Just because they don’t live in the same house anymore, doesn’t mean that all the things that drove each one crazy disappeared. Ultimately it is the words and the pain of their children living between two parents who are angry and intolerant that becomes the impetus to begin to do things differently. Especially if there are children, the relationship does not end after divorce.

#2 – Everything transforms in time. I think one of the most important lessons of divorce (and life) is that everything transforms in time. At the first judge’s meeting, Miranda is so angry that she says nothing when the court temporarily awards her full custody with Saturday visitations only because Daniel does not yet have a job or place to live. She stays silent again 3 months later when the court makes the decision to permanently award her sole custody because Daniel, in his desperation impersonated a woman so he could apply for the job as Miranda’s housekeeper and see his kids everyday.  By the end of the movie, however, the couple’s relationship has so transformed that Miranda herself has the court order removed. Things do not stay the same forever. Time and intention have the capacity to transform any situation.

#3 – What kids need most is love. The children in Mrs Doubtfire, like the children of many divorcing or divorced couples, are stuck between two parents who are so angry and fed up with each other that they cannot help but speak ill of one another. The parents are suspicious and each feels so bullied by the other that they begin to pull at the kids like two teams yanking either side of a tug-o-war rope. Having no idea how to keep everyone happy, the kids’ anxiety levels rise. Divorce is grown up stuff. As with Daniel and Miranda, two people can get to a point where they have grown apart and are no longer making each other happy, but the only thing that the kids care about is feeling loved by both parents. Taking the high road when you feel you have been mistreated or manipulated is one of the greatest challenges a divorcing or divorced parent faces. However, for parents who love their children, there really is no other acceptable alternative.

#4 – People are capable of change. One of the most fascinating aspects of the movie from a divorce standpoint is the way in which Daniel, impersonating a housekeeper named Mrs Doubtfire, uses all his knowledge of who Miranda is and what she likes to adopt the very habits, patterns and ways of being that she always wished Daniel would have demonstrated while they were married. What changed? How come Daniel was suddenly willing to do what he was never willing to do while they were married? Over time, couples can get into the habit of bringing out the worst rather than the best in each other. Sometimes couples have to separate in order to find their best selves and sometimes they need the need a fresh new start with each partner dropping their shield and sword so they can develop new patterns together.

#5 – The courts and attorneys do not always know what is best. The movie was a powerful reminder of what can happen in the legal process when couples get so swept up in their own anger that they lose site and control over what is best for their children.  Miranda knows that Daniel is a loving and devoted father, but because she has felt so slighted and disrespected, she allows a judge to award Daniel limited, court supervised visits only. While the courtroom scene is not realistic in many respects, the truth remains the same that judges and attorneys, who have only a snapshot view of a family at best, are not in the best position to make decisions about what is best for the family or the children. The health and wellbeing of the children is most critically dependent upon parents who can show up to make choices from a place of love rather than anger.

#6 – Things usually get more chaotic before they get better. As if things are not tumultuous enough leading to the decision to get a divorce, the truth is that things often get more chaotic before they get better. In the movie, both Miranda’s and Daniel’s lives become even more chaotic and frustrating immediately after the divorce. The pattern before the divorce was at least familiar, if not healthy. The new routine after Daniel moves out is so disorienting that everyone is initially thrown into a state of chaos and disequilibrium. It isn’t until Daniel’s impersonation is finally revealed and everyone realizes just how chaotic things had become, that they find their way to a state of equilibrium. The chaos is normal. The chaos stems from the sudden reconfiguring that is necessary to move things from a past state to a new state.

 

Divorce challenges people in ways never imagined. It is often a painful and demanding process. However, navigated with intention and care, there is great potential for healing, stability and even miracles on the other side. These are the rewards of being willing to follow the road less traveled.

 

If you know anyone struggling with challenges in their relationship or navigating divorce who can benefit from support in getting from chaos and pain to stability and hope, please refer to them to Divorce Essentials. They do not need to wait until divorce is inevitable to get some help.

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Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Ala Carte Session or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

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Divorced Dad

Father’s Day Tribute to Divorced Dads

Having been a Father’s Day baby (actually born on Father’s Day), this day of honoring dads has always been important to me. What I find interesting is that now that I am no longer married, I Divorced Dadfind myself almost more concerned about making sure that my kids have time with their dad on Father’s Day than I did when we were together, which can be complicated as we aim to spend time with my father as well, and he is located in another city.

 

This year, because of other circumstances, my new partner, my ex, my kids, my parents and I will all celebrate Father’s Day together. This is something that none of us could have imagined a year ago, but a testament to the fact that all things transform in time, especially when parents put their kids first.

 

Giving Divorced Dads Due Credit

 

So this week, in honor of Father’s Day, I want to make a tribute to Divorced Dads. Historically, and it still persists in many places today, dads were not thought to have the “parenting gene” or whatever it is we thought made a mom the more suitable caregiver. This belief was reflected in custody determinations that for many years deeply favored the mother. If parents divorced, they could almost count on the fact that the mother would get primary physical custody and the dad would get some visitation rights one night during the week and every other weekend.

 

While things are still far from perfect, gratefully things have changed.

 

I loved reading this article because it certainly matches my experience. Like many divorced moms, I worried about certain aspects of caregiving that my kids always got from me and not their father. What would they do the 50% of the time they were in his care? Amazingly (though not really), I found that when my kids were in their dad’s care, they did get everything they needed. It didn’t always look the same as the way I would do things, but they absolutely got everything they needed. With me no longer present, he instinctively and very competently stepped up to navigate in what we have traditionally thought of as the “maternal role.”

 

And to be completely honest, there were a number of aspects of parenting where my ex excelled and I was more hesitant. In much the same way, I stepped up and found my way too. As the article said, it is the experience if parenting that activates these areas of the brain, not our gender. With desire, commitment and practice, moms and dads both have everything they need (biologically speaking) to be parental.

 

Tribute to Divorced Dads

 

So on this Father’s Day, a tribute to Divorced dads who:

  • Put their children first and make decisions with their best in mind
  • Explore and enjoy the new relationships that are possible with their kids in a space where they have new freedom and liberty to parent in their own way
  • Are finally beginning to be recognized by the law and society as every bit as capable of caregiving as moms
  • By the very nature of being the unique individual that they are, have perspective, experience, and ways of loving to offer as parents that are treasures for their children.

 

This Father’s Day, on June 15th, I invite you to think of a divorced or divorcing dad you know (may even be your former spouse) and take a few moments to honor who they are as a parent. If you are so moved, reach out and acknowledge them as a parent or pass on this article. And if you are a divorced or divorcing dad, I invite you to take a moment to fully acknowledge yourself as a parent and then find a way to connect with your kids, whether they are with you or not.

 

Happy Father’s Day.

 

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Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

 

 

 

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My First Post Divorce Mother’s Day

SunflowersI will always remember my first post divorce Mother’s Day as one of my fondest. After years of hosting a beautiful family gathering for anywhere between 9 – 12 mothers and their associated loved ones, this was the first Mother’s Day that was truly about my motherhood.

 

My girls were with me that day and sensing the magnitude of the changes for everyone, they were very committed to taking care of me. They asked me what I would love to do. When I told them there was a Mother’s Day yoga class I really wanted to take, they told me to go! They also told me that they were taking care of dinner. Having made some arrangements to plan a meal and buy food earlier in the week, they were already prepared (who knew?)!

 

So, off I went to yoga – the first Mother’s Day in over 13 years when I was not rushing around like crazy to finish the last few homemade gifts and get the house cleaned and prepared so I could host the party for 20+. Instead, I attended a 90-minute yoga and meditation class, and returned home to snuggle with my girls until it was time to ‘prepare dinner.’

 

“Go to your room mom, and read a book. No peeking!” they demanded.

 

So off I went. Yoga, snuggling and now time to read a book! What an amazing Mother’s Day.

 

As I was up in my room, I heard the back and forth between my girls as they worked to prepare the feast. Finally, upon receiving my formal invitation to dine, I came down to a meal made with as much love as a mother could ever imagine. There was a pasta primavera, flatbread and salad. The three of us delighted in this meal together. And if all this had not been enough, they had made me a Mother’s Day packet of cards, each one naming one thing that makes me special in their eyes.

 

Why do I share this? Not only because it is a sweet post divorce Mother’s Day story and who could possibly resist, but also because when many people think about divorce, they often think only about what they may be ‘losing ‘ or ‘giving up.’ They lament the things that will not be the same. In some cases, this fear of ‘loss’ is so powerful that it inhibits people from ever making changes.

 

Change is Just Change

 

But change is not all bad and there is not only loss on the other side. No, I was not surrounded on Mother’s Day by a beautiful extended family as I had been for many years, but look at the incredible gift I received instead.

 

We get used to the familiar and we habituate to what is. Our mind tells stories that make us believe that we will be deprived on the other side of change and never have it as good. Well, this simply isn’t true. Change is just change. By definition, change is neither bad nor good. What change brings depends in large part upon how we open to it. Are we willing to be open to the new things that change can bring? Are we able to embrace the unexpected blessings that are inherent in change? Are we willing and able to be present to the moment and see what it has to offer?

 

On this Mother’s Day, whether you are a mother or a father, divorcing or struggling in your relationship, I invite you to turn down the volume on the stories the mind likes to tell about how sad, disappointing, or shortchanged something might seem. Instead, try positioning yourself in a new way and ask, “I wonder what will make this Mother’s Day unique and beautiful in its own right. I wonder what blessings I will notice when I lift my eyes in search of beauty.”

 

With this is mind, I am looking forward to my second post divorce Mother’s Day this Sunday and I invite you to share your blessings below as you discover them.

 

Now It’s Your Turn

 

And if you really do want to make a change or want to be able to see things differently but you need some help, contact me.  Let’s talk. Life is truly full of blessings, no matter what direction you may be headed. Let’s discover them together.

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Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

 

 

 

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Defining Family Post Divorce

It wasn’t my intention to write about kids again this week. In fact, I was about to begin writing Familymy blog (had it all planned out) when I received something my daughter had written for an assignment in school and I had to share.

 

It is about blended families.

It is about a teenager’s perception of family post-divorce.

It is about a young person growing up in a gay community.

It is about love.

 

Enjoy, and as always, keep the comments coming. I LOVE it when you post comments below.

 

Please also consider passing this on to someone you know who could use a smile today, someone who may be struggling with a sense of loss around divorce, or friends in the gay community with kids – anyone who would enjoy sharing in the beauty of a young person’s heart-felt wisdom.

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Author: Talya Laver, 15 (my daughter)

 

Today was a great day, in a very sad way. It’s funny how funerals bring people together in ways that other run of the mill days can’t. They allow you to form bonds with people in your “family” that you didn’t have before. Granted, if your vision of family is solely the people you are related to by blood, you are missing out. And this is coming from someone who really knows.

 

For simplicity’s sake, I attended my aunt’s partner’s funeral. But if you want the full explanation, I attended my mom’s partner’s ex-partner’s partner’s funeral. I know you are probably thinking, what the heck? First off, who knows that many gay people? And second, that’s not really your family.

 

Firstly, I know that many gay people ever since my mom “came out” two years ago and my parents split. Our gatherings now consist of mainly gay people… lesbians, to be specific. And secondly, you would be wrong to say these people are not really my family. They are as much my family as my blood relatives because they are the people I love. They are the people we now see at holidays. They are the people who are there to celebrate the good times. And in hard times, they are the people who grieve together and serve as sources of comfort.

 

So, deciding that we were way over the whole prayer thing for the day and not wanting to run the risk of crying again, the three other girls my age and I went to sit in a corner near my “step”- brother’s lonely friend while the adults held a Shiva (Jewish mourning) service. The four of us sat there and made each other laugh and tried to shush each other when we thought we were getting too loud… just like cousins. A while into it another family friend came over. She has been friends with my “step’-brother since they were little. So she asked us how we were all related.

 

We sat there for a moment, looked at each other, and just laughed knowing that even if we figured it out and were able to articulate it, there was no way she was going to be able to follow. But I decided to take the challenge full on.

 

“The dumbed down version,” I told her “is that Naomi is my sister, and Lea and Kyra are my cousins. If you want the actual version, it goes something like this…. My mom’s partner’s cousin is one of Lea’s moms, but not her birth mom. My mom’s partner’s ex-partner is Kyra’s Godmother and has been best friends with one of her moms since forever. Kyra and Lea grew up together (with a combined total of four moms) and lived near each other at one point, and I use to go to school with Kyra. Got it?”

 

“Nope. But basically you are all cousins,” she concluded after a moment’s pause.

 

And all four of us responded, “Yup.”

 

All of this is to say that in my opinion – your family is the people you love and those who love you – not only those with whom you share your ancestry.

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Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

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What Kids Like About Divorce

Last night I asked my daughter if there was anything she liked about her parents being divorced. In her very honest way, she replied, “Well, sometimes it means you can get by with some things. If you forget a book to school you can always say it is at your other parent’s house.” In all honesty, she is a child who rarely if ever would use this card if it were not true, but this remark was a powerful reminder that what kids focus on in divorce can be very different from what we think as adults.

 “One of the biggest fears parents have is that divorce

will ruin their kids’ lives”

One of the biggest fears that parents have is that divorce will ‘ruin’ their kids’ lives. In fact, one of the first things my older daughter accused me of was ‘ruining her perfect world.’ Many couples stay together in very unhappy marriages for a long time because they don’t want to hurt their children. There is great value placed on the consistency of routine and, I suppose, a belief that consistency and continuity of these routines is the most important factor in a child’s happiness and healthy adjustment.

 

While consistency and routine are useful in creating a sense of security, there are other factors, I believe, that are equally and sometimes more important for a child’s healthy adjustment including:

  • The capacity of the adults to provide unbridled and unconditional love
  • The capacity of each parent to be fully present in their children’s lives
  • The model that parents set for what it means to have a healthy, loving relationship.

 Shouldn’t you wait until your kids are grown?

As I was contemplating divorce, a few people who love my children suggested that I really needed to wait until my kids were out of the house before making such a change. Give them the opportunity to enjoy an uninterrupted childhood. After that time, my caring friends and family suggested, I could do whatever I liked.

 

This made sense on one level, but then I looked at the situation from another perspective. I asked myself some questions:

  • If one of my children were in my situation, what would I want for her?
  • If I stayed out of a sense of ‘duty,’ what messages would I be I sending to my children about the value of happiness in life?
  • What messages are my kids internalizing about love that will impact their future relationships?

 

My purpose in writing this is not to give parents ‘permission’ to divorce freely without concern that it will negatively impact their children. I am not here to say, “As long as you have a good rationale, go ahead…get the divorce…it will actually be good for your kids.” Not at all.

 

What I am saying is that it is easy for us to get caught in one way of thinking and ignore other factors. We can get caught in thinking that divorce is always bad for kids. The reality is that divorce is about change. Most people find change to be scary because when we change something, we don’t really know what it will be like on the other side. Since we fear the unknown, our brains tend to rationalize why the ‘known’ is better. “The devil we know is better than the devil we don’t know!”

 

Change, by itself, is not good or bad. Rather, it is the way in which we navigate change that matters. The most important thing when making a change is to be intentional. Know why you are making the change and what you want to be different on the other side. Be deliberate in your choices and actions. As far as our children are concerned, they are generally very resilient and adaptable. If we make change with purpose and intention, and if we set a commitment to place their health and welfare at the center, our kids usually thrive and grow in a new situation.

 What my kids like about divorce (and don’t like)

So what do my kids like about divorce? They don’t like schlepping their clothes back and forth. They do like how each of their parents is more attentive to their needs during their custody time. They don’t like not having the shoes they want because it is at their other parent’s house. They do like the new people who are in their lives as a result of the change. They don’t like that sometimes it takes longer to get answers to a question because we need to consult. They do appreciate the fullness with which I am able to bring myself as a parent to their lives now.

 

Our children are precious and as parents it is our responsibility to guide their development and provide for their health and welfare. What I invite you to consider is that there is more than one ‘right way’ to do this. What is important is finding what is right for you, your kids, and your family.

____________________________

Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

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How to Consciously Uncouple from a Narcissist

Those of us in the divorce and media worlds are still talking about conscious uncoupling. AndConsciously Uncouple a Narcissist this is a good thing because it means that we are continuing to push against traditional, and often destructive, ideas about what divorce means and how it has to unfold. But what if you are trying to consciously uncouple and you are married to a narcissist, an addict, or someone who simply spends most of their time – well – in an unconscious state?

 

What is Conscious Uncoupling? – Revisited

 

Taking a step back for a minute, let’s acknowledge that – as of yet – there is no clear and consistent definition of ‘Conscious Uncoupling.’ In fact, story has it that Katherine Woodward Thomas who coined the phrase was in seclusion out of the country working on her book with the same title, Conscious Uncoupling, when the story broke a few weeks ago which is why she was so noticeably absent from the earliest discussions.

 

So what does this phrase really mean? I offer here my best explanation here based upon what I have read as well as my own experience with what I believe was certainly a conscious uncoupling.

 

According to Thomas, conscious uncoupling is an intentional process of “lovingly completing a relationship that results in feeling more whole, healed and at peace.” She proposes (and I concur) that breakups are an opportunity to transform an emotional and painful life transition into “a catalyst for making a breakthrough in the way you show up in your life… and in your next relationship.”

 

Others have commented on the importance of a more conscious approach to ensure the health and welfare of the children. Being able to place their best interests first requires a great deal of a couple who faces the possibility of being triggered into fear and anger again and again throughout the uncoupling process.

 

As for me, I offer this… Conscious Uncoupling is a commitment. It is a commitment to being awake to the transition that is occurring in your life and to making decisions that are in alignment with core values, long term priorities, health and well-being; and that reflect the essence of who you are and want to be in the world.

 

What if your partner is not a willing partner to Conscious Uncoupling?

 

In the case of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, both partners seem committed the process and this is always ideal. The reality is, however, that many people pursue divorce in situations where their partner is not willing to come to the table to lovingly complete the relationship together. What if you are divorcing an addict, a narcissist, an abuser, or simply someone who does not want to see the relationship come to an end? Can you still ‘Consciously Uncouple?’

 

I propose here that you absolutely can! “Lovingly completing a relationship so you can feel more whole, healed and at peace” is a choice that each person makes for him or herself.  Every person, regardless of the situation, has the opportunity to intentionally:

  • decide how this experience will shape his or her present and future
  • decide how s/he will show up to all facets of the process of uncoupling – even (and especially) the tough parts
  • bring closure to the relationship and to this chapter of life in a way that honors the past and what each person contributed to the relationship
  • pursue healing from deep wounds so as to live in a place of greater strength
  • navigate this journey with intention and confidence.

 

THIS is a matter of choice. We can never control what our partner will do, but we can choose how we respond and the degree to which we allow other people’s actions to impact us. This is not easy. I have lived the experience of being triggered again and again and even drafting the angry e-mail. There is something cathartic and perhaps a bit empowering about crafting that angry statement. The important thing, however, is maintaining to committed to not sending the e-mail or reacting from the triggered place because nothing is really served by it. This is what makes it “conscious.”

 

Support for the Conscious Uncoupler Who Has to ‘Go it Alone’

 

Uncoupling is difficult, consciously uncoupling challenges us in so many ways. For this reason, I have just released the Divorce Companion, a step-by-step guide for anyone who is committed to choosing an informed and empowered path for making this life transition.  This is the most comprehensive program available to support individuals and couples in getting on the right path. You can learn more at www.DivorceCompanion.com or by visiting my website at divorceessentials.net.

__________________________

Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

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Is a Fair Divorce Settlement Agreement Possible?

One goal of the divorce process is to help couples attain a fair divorce settlement agreement.  However, this process often breaks down because no one has clearly defined what “fair” means.

 

Let’s think about it. Two people have been living together for a long time. In the case of many of my clients, this means 10+ years. Over that time, the couple accumulates assets such as a house (or two or three), cars, artwork, heirlooms, jewelry, retirement plans, and so on. Regardless of whether the couple mutually decided to divorce, one person initiated the process and the other is facing it reluctantly, what can possibly seem “fair” about having to give up stability, financial security, time with the kids (if there are any), the residence you have called home, and half of the stuff you have surrounded yourself with day in and day out.  And how about the family pet?

 

For many “fair” can become completely inaccessible in the negotiating room. When this happens, rational discussion tends to cease and couples can soon find themselves sitting in a courtroom. At that point, they not only have to contend with high legal feels, but they are then at the mercy of a judge or master whose definition of a fair divorce settlement agreement is not likely to please either side.

 

What’s the problem and what can we do about it?

 

One of the problems I would like to assert is that spouses are told that the goal is to achieve a fair divorce settlement agreement, but everyone in the room has their own definition of what that means. Spouse A has an idea in their head what they think is fair, spouse B has another notion, and the attorneys or mediators have their interpretation of what they believe the law thinks is “fair” in this case.

 

According to the dictionary, “fair” can mean any of the following:

  • Moderately good
  • Acceptable but not ideal
  • Consistent with rules or logic
  • Free of favoritism or bias
  • Being in accordance with relative merit or significance
  • Sizeable
  • Better than acceptable
  • Reasonable

 

When you think about this list, even subtle differences in the meaning of these phrases can make an enormous difference when you are negotiating how to divide up the material and financial assets that were previously an integral part of a marital partnership.

 

Reframing the Fair Divorce Settlement Agreement

 

Perhaps it is time for a reframe. I am not sure yet exactly what that is, but let me throw out a couple of things and see if any of you have some ideas as well. What if instead of focusing on a fair divorce settlement agreement, we set the goal as:

 

  • A divorce settlement agreement that provides for a reasonably healthy future for each partner. What I like about this is that the emphasis is on the future and not the past, given how things present in the current moment.

 

  • Or what about a divorce settlement agreement that enables partners to each receive some of what is most important to them? What I like about this is that is forces couples to identify what is most important to them before the start of the negotiations. If each partner were to have a Top 5 list and the assumption was that each partner would get at least 3 out of their top 5, would people end up happier in the end. The focus would be on gain and not loss.

 

Yes, I know these phrases can feel a bit awkward and unpolished right now, but let’s start the dialogue.

 

Join the Dialogue

 

Join me by adding to this discussion here, on my blog, and on my free Monthly Support Call focused on ‘Achieving a Fair Divorce Settlement Agreement’ on April 16th from 12:10 – 1:00 pm. Register here.

 

Often times we take the language we use for granted but the truth is that language matters. We all associate meaning with words based upon our past experiences and associations. And “fair” is actually a very highly charged word. Two people with different experiences with “fair” on the playground, at home, and with friends, are going to have very different notions of what this means. How can adjustments to our language set a new tone, create new expectations, and perhaps even change the outcome of a negotiation process?

 

And how can a new level of consciousness about the divorce process make a difference in the divorce experience? For more about this, please click here to learn about the new Divorce Companion Program, designed to provide step-by-step guidance for pursuing a healthy divorce with confidence and clarity.

____________________________

Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

 

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Splitting up or Conscious Uncoupling?

What makes Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s break up different from the average conscious uncouplingHollywood divorce story is their reframing of the experience as conscious uncoupling. The media is hot on this one. Is this complete Hollywood hogwash or is there something here that can transform the way we navigate this life transition that impacts 50% of couples in the United States?

 

The term conscious uncoupling was coined by Los Angeles therapist and author Katherine Woodward Thomas who is committed to helping couples release the trauma of a breakup so they can reclaim their power and reinvent their lives. (Have you heard this before? I am feeling in good company here!)

 

For a long time, divorce has carried with it a deep mark of shame. Regardless of the story behind the marriage and the break-up, stating that you were getting a divorce was akin to having a scarlet letter affixed to your cloak for the world to see and judge. To those on the outside, divorce means failure and provokes many married couples to pull away from long time friends for what must only be a fear of “catching” the divorce disease.

 

The fact is, there are many reasons why couples end a marriage. There is a significant rise in the grey divorce because we are simply living longer. As Thomas points out, the assumption of a single lifetime partner stems from a time when lifespan was much shorter – not a time when individuals can spend up to 70 years of their lives in intimate relationships. People grow and change and they do not always grow and change in the same direction. This is normal.

 

In addition, many people are in marital situations that are fraught with abuse, addiction and manipulation. And then, of course, there is the segment of the population like me who discovers that they are gay or feels ready to acknowledge their homosexuality and make a change in their lives. These are all valid reasons to bring a marriage to an end, so doesn’t it behoove us to figure out how to navigate this process without so much acrimony and destruction?

 

How to Achieve Conscious Uncoupling

 

  1. The first essential step, as Gwyneth and Cris have done, is to acknowledge to themselves that this is not a failure, but a conscious choice to make a change and improve the quality of life. When divorce is about failure (F), we want to find someone to blame because neither partner wants to own the “F”. In a conscious uncoupling, no one is wrong.
  2. The second key ingredient is to know what you value more than the right to be angry. For Gwyneth and Cris (and many others) this is their children. Valuing future happiness is also a great focus. When divorce is about the split, it easily becomes contentious. When the focus is on what you want to preserve and what you want to create, it is much easier to consciously uncouple.
  3. A third key ingredient is to know how to return to center. Everyone going through a divorce will get triggered at some point – even Gwyneth and Chris – and I hope we don’t have to read about it in a tabloid. This is human and normal. I experienced a conscious uncoupling with my husband and there were still very tough moments. They key is not to act from the places of anger and hurt and to have strategies for returning to center and refocusing on the bigger goals.
  4. Fourth, it is important to have the right support team in place. Do your friends, family, therapist, attorney, coach, financial planner, and so on help you navigate in a conscious and healthy way or do they fuel the flames of acrimony and mistrust? Conscious uncoupling requires a support system that reinforces this path.
  5. Finally, something that is key to staying on track that I learned from my ex is to take any decision and imagine sharing it with someone you care about and respect. Would you feel proud to share this choice with your children, parents, or that special person in your life (dead or alive) for whom you have deep respect? If this is the gauge, you will make more conscious choices.

What if you are uncoupling from an ‘unconscious’ partner?

 

Doing something consciously is a personal choice. Regardless of the choices your partner makes, anyone can follow the five guidelines set forth above. This is your journey and you are the one who has to live on the other side of it.

 

For support with Consciously Uncoupling – alone or with your partner, I have created the Divorce Companion Program that will be released next week. You will be able to learn more about it at www.divorcecompanion.com.

 

Kudos to Gwyneth and Chris. The journey is challenging and they should be applauded for their commitment to navigating in this healthy way.

________________________

Adina Laver is the author of the soon to be released Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

 

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