Should I or Shouldn’t I? As a divorce coach and collaborative divorce attorney, I consult with many people considering divorce. My experience is a large percentage of these people have not made up their minds. Divorce is a big step and indecision is completely understandable. Attorneys generally do not participate in this decision-making process with a prospective client. Divorce coaches, on the other hand, are specifically trained to serve as “thinking partners” to people considering divorce as an option.
Linda Carroll identified this phase as the “love cycle” in her book Love Cycles: The Five Stages of Lasting Love. Two people come together in the merge, a time of romantic love. That stage ebbs in the face of doubt and denial, when there is a struggle in the relationship. Disillusionment follows as the parties may face a “frozen wall” in the relationship. That leads to the decision phase when one or both partners consider separating, leading parallel lives, doing nothing or rebuilding the relationship. Depending upon those choices, the couple could move to wholehearted loving. People may be considering divorce during the decision stage. Each partner moves through this cycle at their own pace.
In the decisions phase, many partners find themselves in a significant sub-cycle of decision/indecision. It starts in the status quo/routine phase. Tensions rise due to unmet expectations or discontent which triggers a threat response. Conflict and crisis are likely to follow. Inevitably, one or more of the partners will experience remorse and regret as a result of the conflict. They may be fearful about ending the relationship, causing them to re-engage in love. Tensions decline for a while and couples resign themselves to staying in the relationship. They rationalize away their problems, or in some situations, problem solve. This returns them to the status quo.
A client’s willingness to take action depends upon where they are in the love cycle and in the decision cycle. Along the way, several questions arise in the mind of a partner considering divorce. These include:
- Should I or should not I divorce?
- What are my options besides divorce?
- Should I give up on this relationship?
- Can I afford to divorce?
- Will I ever be loved again?
- Will I survive being on my own?
These are legitimate questions that a lawyer cannot answer. However, a trained divorce coach can be a critical thinking partner in a client’s journey to answer these questions for themselves. In many cases, clients have considered one of the following: creating a new marriage relationship, separating, or divorce. But finding answers to these questions takes more than consideration. It takes clarity, a plan of action and a commitment to see it through.
It’s important to note that divorce coaches do not advocate for divorce. Just as the medical profession does not advocate for cancer, it does provide resources and support for those considering treatment options and those who undergo serious treatment. Likewise, a divorce coach can support a client in the process of deciding whether or not to divorce, what divorce process to choose, understanding that process, and understanding the decision points along the way. In addition, a coach supports the client in maintaining sound judgement, open communication, and keeping an open mind to any and all options for resolving the divorce and moving forward in a healthy way.
Kurt Chacon is a CDC certified divorce coach in north Dallas and a collaborative divorce attorney. He is a member of Denton County Collaborative Professionals, Collaborative Divorce Texas, and can be reached at www.divorcedifferently.org and on Facebook at divorcedifferently.