Break my arm, not my heart!

Ending a primary intimate relationship can be difficult (and embarrassing) no matter what age you are. I learned this when I was 29 years old and my marriage, with two young children, ended. It was not what I had dreamed of, and I was devastated by the loss.

At the time of my separation I was studying leadership with Ronald Heifetz at the Kennedy School. He helped me to frame my leadership challenge as: “Single mother getting back on my feet.”  Finding ways to grow, to forge a career and to “co-parent” my children in peace with their father may have been the single greatest challenge of my lifetime.

I learned more about resilience and focus from that experience than from any other.

I now know that ending a primary partnership flies in the face of all of the bonding instincts that enable human families and societies to survive. Yet, in spite  of these strong ties, most people in modern society, for a variety of reasons, will have more than one primary relationship.

Margaret Mead identified this phenomena as “serial monogamy “. Despite our longings for lifelong stability, many of us will need to learn how to find way to move through these relationships in ways that do not damage ourselves and our children.

Katherine Woodward Thomas is the family therapist and author of the N.Y. Times bestseller, Conscious Uncoupling – 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After. In her groundbreaking work she provides a roadmap for ending intimate relationships in a way that serves all who are affected. (You may remember that the term “conscious uncoupling” was first made famous by Gwyneth Paltrow during her marital separation.)

I was inspired to work with Katherine Woodward Thomas and to become certified as a Conscious Uncoupling coach when I was in my fifties.  You can see read more about my story, and how I came to be a Conscious Uncoupling coach in the page, “Meet Joan”.

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