After more than a decade of marriage, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and musician Chris Martin have decided to “remain separate.” A post on her website states that their plans are to consciously uncouple and co-parent their children, daughter Apple age 9 and son Moses age 7.
All couples go through hard times and some face challenges that are insurmountable. No matter whether they end up in divorce court or mediation, what matters most is their emotional reactions. None of us can always control what happens but we can control how we handle it.
We all have resources hidden deep inside. At times like this we need to mine those inner strengths and act like adults, especially when the wellbeing of our kids is at stake. All that takes some preparation and a lot of effort. So here are some pointers to help you get started:
Identify what you’re feeling. Write down the emotions that now regularly surface. What is going on when you’re sad, scared, or frustrated? Chances are your emotions range from disappointment to anger, and they’re constantly changing. That’s perfectly normal. Working through them is a step toward gaining greater insight and self-awareness.
Stop focusing on the past. Identify the hot button issues that are standing in your way and try to resolve them. Holding on to resentment usually hurts only you. The sooner you learn to let go, the quicker you’ll begin to create a richer life. Although it may not be easy to forgive, it’s a gift you give yourself as well as others.
Be a good role model. If the situation remains tense, calmly explore the ongoing problems. Limit your arguing and learn more about conflict resolution and active listening as divorcing parents. Remember that your kids are watching. Talk to them about what’s going on but set boundaries and don’t lean on them emotionally.
Build your resilience. It can be hard to bounce back, but you don’t have to do it alone. Consider consulting a therapist or joining a support group. Your goals may include exploring issues about the kids, developing a more flexible attitude or deciding what you want for yourself. Take this chance to invest in your own emotional bank account.
As much as we would like to believe otherwise, there are no painless transitions when the breakup of a family occurs. However, research supports the idea that mindfulness and self-compassion may help people navigate the landmines of separation. And after a divorce, those who recognize their common humanity seem to experience less conflict and emotional distress. Everyone has to find their own way and there are many paths. Why not choose a healthy alternative to hurtful words and feelings of guilt?