How to Consciously Uncouple (a Child-Centric Divorce)
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There are many reasons why a marriage or long-term relationship may end. And with a 50% chance of divorce, most divorces happen in the 8th year of marriage.
Some of the common reasons marriages end are expectations of the marriage being unrealistic, financial debt, infidelity, and lack of connection. And most couples will spend two years deciding before they divorce (going against the common misconception that divorce is the first option when a marriage goes bad).
A lot of couples getting a divorce have children. When there are children in a marriage that is ending, the parents need to be responsible for handling the divorce to minimize trauma to the children. Keep reading to learn how a divorce can be child-centric.
Why divorce was the best decision for us.
One of the reasons for my divorce, which was after 17 total years of being together, was the disconnection that happened over ten years. And it took us five years to make a move towards a divorce (and three more years after that to finalize it).
And in 2016, we made the brave decision that to consciously uncouple was the best for ourselves and the children.
Having experienced a marriage void of love and connection, we wanted to show our children that two people can consciously uncouple and still co-parent and communicate together.
Essentially, we did not want to model for our children two people unhappy in their marriage, as this would result in setting a life-long negative example for their future relationships.
There are times when uncoupled two people thrive, and this was our case.
And it was during this time that we also committed to a child-centric divorce. We sat on the sofa the night we finally decided to start the divorce process and came up with a way to do it that was the best for the children.
Here are the ways to consciously uncouple and have a child-centric divorce.
We began what’s called “nesting”. Nesting is when the children remain in the marital home, but the parents each rent their places. In nesting, it's the parents that rotate in and out of their home, instead of the children. Nesting is a transition for the children through the divorce process.
We each got inexpensive rooms to rent so that the cost of three different living spaces was the same as the cost of two places (that could house the kids). In other words, renting two rooms for each of us was the exact cost (or less) than renting a new house with 3+ bedrooms.
How long did we plan to nest?
I don’t remember that we had a deadline, but it turned out to be 2 ½ years.
It wasn’t always smooth, but we made it work for much longer than most couples practice nesting. The children were doing well and thriving, and it was the direct result of nesting.
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Holidays in a Child-Centric Divorce
The first year, we celebrated all holidays together as a family; and in the second year, we did partial holidays together. Into the third year, we began to rotate holidays, yet always having the option to participate in some holidays together. Birthdays celebrations were a family event.
When we finally ended nesting, we each got our places for the children. Once again, we communicated to make the transition as easy as possible for the kids, including being always willing to bring things to the kids if they forgot something, spending one-on-one time with the kids when the other had custody.
A lot of healing happened through the process of uncoupling, as well as a lot of growth.
RELATED ARTICLE: 67 Positive Affirmations for Children
A few years later and we have reached a new level of co-parenting, including better discussions on each child’s needs, how to best parent each child, bi-monthly co-parenting coaching, and improving our ongoing communication.
Children Deserve a Child-Centric Divorce
Our children know that divorce is a healthier and more mindful choice for our family; they get to see us as better parents and people not coupled together, they know we are on their side in supporting them through the process, and they see us co-parenting together.
Divorce is a challenging but brave choice to make. The most important thing to remember is that should you choose to consciously uncouple; you CAN do it child-centric.
It’s also important to note that children do not need to hear each parent negatively comment about the other parent—quite the opposite. The children are healthier in a divorce when they hear each parent talk POSITIVELY about each other.
Growth Through Uncoupling
Even during the more challenging parts of a divorce (and believe me even a child-centric divorce can have some deep valleys), there is hope to emerge in growth. And this too, was our case.
Advice for Married Couples
With the high rate of divorce, couples need to be proactive when it comes to their relationships. I regularly recommend couples seek a relationship coach or therapist and go once a month or quarterly as maintenance.
It is much easier to stay connected when you’re proactive in your relationship, than waiting to see a therapist or coach once you have problems.
I also recommend that couples maintain an open and honest relationship with each other, including good communication.
If you decide that divorce is the best option for your family, please remember that the children should be as protected as possible through arrangements such as nesting and positive communication between the couple.
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