Divorce can be a challenging path to traverse. How do we say goodbye to one we have both fallen in love with … and out of love with? And how do we say goodbye with love, with respect? This is not an exercise in semantics of what is love… rather a sharing that there is the possibility that, as circumstances change, we do have the opportunity to part from our ‘best friend’ with some conscious understanding that love has been and, most likely, is still present under all the hurt, disappointment, change and need to move in different directions.
This is the story of Terry and Michelle who had been married for nine years when it became clear they could no longer be together. This is their story, of their ‘conscious uncoupling ceremony’ that had been supported by their work with a counsellor whom they had both worked with individually and as a couple.
Terry and Michelle met in the late afternoon in the carpark greeting each other with a nervous hug. It had been their custom to go for a regular walk together along the beach with their daughter, Isabella. In many ways, this was not so different – walking side by side – yet, this time, resisting the urge to hold hands as they had done on so many occasions. Rather, feeling the mourning and celebration of what was unfolding. Toward the end of the beach, as the sun was setting, they sat down close to one another, rugged up against the cool breeze and looked into each other’s eyes. It was very different to the strong sense of tension that had been there over these last few years – there was an outpouring of love. Terry shared that it could have been easy to have leant back into Michelle’s arms as if nothing had happened.
The day before, they had finished packing up their home that they had shared together for seven years. They had renovated, welcomed Isabella into their family, had many parties and family celebrations and now it was time for a new chapter. The removal trucks had come earlier in the day to take their separate household items and personal things to their respective places. They had lived apart for some time and the divorce proceedings were underway, so selling their home felt like the final closure of their marriage.
As they watched the waves rolling in on the shore they shared stories recounting major life moments – the death of both of their father’s, the death of their stillborn baby, the success of Terry’s business and Michelle’s new career change…and their divorce proceedings. They cried when they talked of their shattered dream of raising a family under one roof. They smiled as they talked about how raising a family might done from that moment forward with these changes in place.
The waves rolled in as they talked. When there was a natural sense of completion they helped each other to stand, and then consciously stepped apart and, with some tears, they held their own wedding ring that the other had given on their wedding day. They acknowledged that the vows they had made on that special day were no longer suitable for their relationship; and that they were committed to walking this new path and wanted to do so, consciously and with love and respect for each other. They threw their ring as far as they could into the waves. They both laughed and cried, and hugged each other with the wind tugging at their clothes as the breeze picked up. Michelle said, there was a moment where she wanted to step back in, where the love felt so great she wanted to say, ‘let’s start over’. They had been here a few times before and so, she let the tears and feeling wash over her. It passed.
Walking back along the beach they both said the energy changed. There was an air of melancholy but tinted with hues of lightness and play. Excitement of a new journey. Fear of the unknown. Memories, maybe’s, what if’s….and a deep knowing that for now, this was their new path. And a joy and celebration that they could do this small ceremony to ‘consciously uncouple’ and enter into a new agreement of consciously co parenting their daughter, Isabella.
For more ideas of creating a divorce or separation ceremony click here.
My experience of my parent’s separating had been a bitter one. I recall the surprise when one of my work colleagues said his parent’s divorce had been beneficial for the whole family. I was in my early twenties and it made an impression upon me and I realised the potential of a couple separating in a conscious and clear way to benefit all the parties involved.
There are many marriage counselling services available and it’s worth the investment of time and money to find ways that meet both of your needs for connection and understanding, no whether you stay together or divorce.
Interelate Australia is just one of many services available.