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after-divorce  :: parenting

Passionate Heart: During Divorce, Consider Intentions

Passionate Heart: During Divorce, Consider Intentions

Mental Health: During Split, Focus on Spouse's Intentions to Keep from Arguing


    If you have experienced a divorce, or are even in the middle of one right now, you know all too well the many things that pull at your attention. On a very practical level, there are financial concerns and decisions to make. Emotionally, getting through the pain, anger and fears might take up a lot of your attention. If you have children, both practical and emotional issues are probably a big focus.  

In the midst of all of these concerns, it can feel difficult to give your attention to your healing! We believe that what you focus your energy on will correspond to the direction your life will take. For this reason, we suggest creating time to look at what you are focusing on and what your intentions are as a way to heal after a divorce.  

Jan and Jerry have three beautiful children. After 10 years together, they have decided to end their marriage. Jerry is a consummate career man. During their marriage, Jan stayed with the kids while working from home part-time. Now that Jerry and Jan are starting new separate lives, it seems natural to both that she has primary custody of the children. Realizing that she needs support during this transition, Jan has decided to move with the children back to her hometown where she’ll be close to her parents. 

Hearing about this move, Jerry instantly calls his attorney requesting primary custody of the children for himself. Jan feels distressed and angry about Jerry’s request. Jerry even admits to Jan’s cousin that he knows the kids would be better off with Jan and he knows she will win a custody battle — but he wants to proceed with the request anyway. Jan and Jerry’s divorce situation might sound familiar. In the end, everyone involved — especially the children — has usually endured an emotionally (and financially) draining experience.

If Jan and Jerry can keep paying attention to their intentions, perhaps some amount of relief and even ease can occur. What are your intentions? As you work with your emotions and make the decisions you need to make, stay clear about what you want. Try not to make a decision of any kind when you are feeling heightened negative emotions. If it is helpful to you, write down what you want from the situation you are in. 

What kind of home do you see yourself (and your children if that is applicable) living in? What type of paid work do you see yourself engaging in? What type of enjoyable activities do you see yourself taking part in? Either in your mind or on paper create a picture of the best life you can imagine and keep those intentions at the front of your mind. If doubts or fears arise, acknowledge how you are feeling and breathe. Then, return to your list or image of intentions and know that they are possible. Keep your focus.

So what about Jan and Jerry? Let’s say that Jan’s intention is to live and work in her childhood home with her children enjoying the support and comfort of her parents. Jerry, on the other hand, seems to be doing his best to prevent this from happening. At this point, Jan can meet Jerry’s fear and anger with her own fear and anger. These are understandable feelings on both sides. Or, she could meet Jerry’s fear and anger with a continued focus on what she wants. She’s talked with the kids, and they want to live with her.  

For his part, Jerry might step back and acknowledge that his request for custody was not really part of his intended new life. Yes, he wants to see his children regularly and help provide for them financially, but he does not want to have primary responsibility for them. When Jerry can focus on what his intentions are, he sees that Jan’s plan does make sense for all. He will see his children and he knows they will have better care with a mom who is supported by extended family.  

Even if you don’t have children involved in your divorce, you can follow these same suggestions. Acknowledge how you are feeling and know that all emotions are ok. Practice healthy ways to let go of your difficult feelings. And then become clear about what your intentions are. You might even enjoy the process of creating an image of what you want your life to be like. Perhaps most importantly, stay focused on those intentions. Be gentle with yourself.  

Susie and Otto Collins are the creators of passionateheart.com and http://www.collinspartners.com and authors of many books, including "7 Intimacy Secrets For Loving More & Connecting Deeper","How To Heal your Broken Heart", "Should you stay or should you go?" , and "No More Jealousy" . They are relationship coaches and life partners, and can be reached at webmaster@collinspartners.com.

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