Divorce storylines in our families have become commonplace in our culture. If you yourself are not divorced, you likely have a friend or family member who has either gone through one or been impacted by one in their close community.
Despite how often we witness marriages deteriorate, we have yet to instill the kind of meaningful support necessary to navigate this enormous change. When the word divorce gets uttered out loud in a family, both parties cling to their attorneys for fear of being left under-resourced. Their bodies step into a fight or flight response and stay there often for years as the legal process unfolds. With fear leading the way, divorce bystanders stand back and witness the divorcing parties struggle instead of cope, argue instead of parent, and attack instead of moving on.
We accept this as an unfortunate normal, but we still quietly wonder:
Could it be different? What would it take to change the narrative?
Enter the little known profession of divorce coaching. Divorce coaching is designed to change the narrative of divorce. At the heart of it, divorce coaching is a deeply targeted, time-limited support mechanism designed to help you walk mindfully through the chaos that is divorce.
Even those with the highest intentions to divorce amicably are often surprised to learn they may need the careful input of a divorce coach. Your intention to be amicable gets tested at every turn in divorce. You may be seeking the good of the family, what is fair, or what is logical, but your soon to be former partner may have a very different impression of those concepts. The tension between the way you see it and the way your partner sees it puts amicable in a pressure cooker often with results that hurt our children.
When amicable gets tested, a divorce coach steps in to teach you two of the most important things you need as you walk through divorce. First, they teach you how to talk to yourself and how to continually draw on your better self even when tension rises. They walk you through the crush of details. They teach you how to claim your peace and how to protect it when the process gets overwhelming. They build the skills that keep you talking with your kids and finding that ever elusive high road. But more than anything, they make sure that your mindset, your self-talk, and your way of approaching this huge disruption is rooted, conscious, and aimed toward your own peace.
Second, a divorce coach teaches you how to talk to your former partner. Many of my clients are surprised to learn that there is a new language they need to learn as they divorce and as they grow their now two-address family. You can't move straight from the tired and difficult conversation patterns of your marriage to using those same techniques in your post-divorce life. An entirely new language, posture, and perspective is necessary to avoid being triggered every time your former partner lets you or the kids down.
In my book, The Best Worst Time of Your Life: Four Practices to Get You Through the Pain of Divorce, I outline the proactive steps you can take to manage the discomfort of divorce change. At the heart of those steps is learning how to work with the pain instead of against it and learning how to say yes to the life trajectory you didn't expect.
Divorce coaching differs from therapy in that therapy seeks to unpack what got you to this place. Divorce coaching says "what now?" Yes, you may have picked a partner based on a particular psychological background or upbringing, but how do you respond to the text from your former partner that irritates you today? And how do you do so in a way that lowers your irritation and increases your sense of being able to handle it and move on? Divorce coaching looks at your "now" and says what skills, mindsets, and communication changes can we make to lighten this load for the future.
There's been much talk of the team sport that is divorce. You'll hear you need the right players on the court at the right time. I highly recommend that you tag your divorce coach in as soon as possible. In addition to the overall wellness support you'll get, you'll also save a tremendous amount of money not wandering down dead end strategy trails and using your attorney as a shoulder to cry on.
Andrea Hipps, LBSW is a Certified Divorce Coach® who helps parents all along the divorce continuum resolve their divorce debris and create beautiful two-address families for their kids. She's the author of the internationally bestselling book The Best Worst Time of Your Life: Four Practices to Get You Through the Pain of Divorce which outlines the four practices you need to create wholeness and healing for you and your kids before, during, and after divorce. As a regular contributor to our nation’s divorce recovery conversation, she's been featured on NBC, ABC, FOX and the CW discussing how we can do divorce better for the sake of ourselves and our families.
Additionally, Andrea offers a self-guided online course, "Divorce Differently." You can register here to find calm, control, and freedom even within your divorce. The course helps your rearrange the way you handle the major change in your life that is a divorce.