My client, Angela (not her real name), contacted me when she was faced with a terrible dilemma:
She and her husband were considering divorce. They had a two-year-old daughter whom they both adored and were afraid of hurting in any way.
This couple had entered marriage in rapid order after finding out that Angela was pregnant a few months into their relationship. They both wanted a child, but they had a tumultuous first two years of marriage that included a year of postpartum depression, and infidelity.
They were questioning whether they had a relationship that was a foundation for a long-term intimate partnership.
Angela found me on the Certified Coaches page of Katherine Woodward Thomas’s website, http://www.consciousuncoupling.com
Katherine is the New York Times bestselling author of Conscious Uncoupling-5-Step Process for Living Happily Even After. She introduced the world to this transformational coaching process that allows you to experience separation and divorce as a healing, rather than as a traumatic, life event. I have been working with her for many years, and continue to be struck by the power of this work.
Her work resonated with me as I had been through a divorce with very young children decades ago. Though we weren’t fortunate enough to have access to the Conscious Uncoupling process, their father and I were committed to raising our children in as healthy a way as possible.
We did everything that we could to divorce peacefully, and to create a workable co-parenting arrangement.
In early 1980’s I was counseled strongly against giving their father joint physical custody by both legal and psychological professionals. I went against their advice and trusted my intuition that this was a good father, and that both he and his children deserved to have the kind of relationship that only comes from living together.
We worked it out over many years to share decisions and care of the children.
I believe that my now-grown children’s ability to be enormously loving and productive in the world was made possible by our ability to create a peaceful and cooperative parenting relationship.
I bring this possibility to others, who, for one reason or another, find that they have children, but not a sustainable marital partnership.
What I did not have available at the time, was a process that would have allowed me to uncover my own deeply held beliefs, feelings, and ineffective practices that had me enter into a marriage that was not sustainable. This awareness and preparation for a better future is what Conscious Uncoupling provides.
In the case of my client Angela, she found on reflection that even though she thought she came from a stable and loving family, her experience of her own father’s chronic disability, beginning when she was age six, had left her with chronic feelings of abandonment.
In our work together she uncovered her underlying false identity, “I don’t matter”, that she had taken on as a young child who had had to put her feelings and needs second to those of her parents who were oftentimes dealing with health crises.
She brought this fear of abandonment into her marriage and was terrified at the thought of separation. She also was enraged at what appeared to be her husband’s lack of support for her when she had struggled with post-partum depression.
Angela is an apt learner, and was able to move through the five steps of the Conscious Uncoupling process to uncover her false beliefs about herself, and to upgrade them to beliefs that reflected the real truth about her abilities as a mature and competent adult.
She moved from feeling victimized and resentful to being able to name and communicate her feelings and needs in a calm and purposeful way.
She saw how she had manifested in her marriage the experience of feeling abandoned from her childhood. And she saw that she had been holding her husband responsible for those feelings.
Angela said during her final session on the 5th Step,
“I can now hold ‘non-dramatic’ conversations. I am not expecting him to fulfill my need for self-love. I see how my fear of abandonment gave too much power to my partner. I am letting go of fears and expectations, and accepting change.”
And, as you might imagine, her husband is responding to the changes. Their communications are now calm and respectful. He chose to work with another coach on his own Conscious Uncoupling process and is beginning that work now.
Conscious Uncoupling is not couple’s therapy. It works if one partner wants to go through the five-step process by themselves.
When both partners want to engage in the process, they work with separate coaches. The coaches can then collaborate with permission of the clients, and can even support them in creating a final uncoupling ritual if they want one.
“Living happily even after…”
We don’t know yet where this relationship will end up, but Angela does know that her ability to engage in new healthier relational practices has her feeling strong and able to cope with the decisions she is facing.
She is especially happy that she now feels grounded and able to create a calm and supportive home for her young daughter.
And for this we are grateful.
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