The Intentional Divorce


The Intentional Divorce

Helping Couples Let Go with Dignity

July/August 2015


I’ve always made it my primary goal to save the marriage, if at all possible; however, I’ve often felt that I was working harder at it than either of the partners involved, especially with the couples who come to my office only to check off an imaginary box—“tried couples therapy”—before heading off to consult their respective lawyers. Of course, even among these last-ditch efforts, some unhappy couples do find new and better ways of relating to each other during therapy and decide to stick together. But what I’ve come to realize is that once a marriage has sufficiently unraveled, therapy often hits an impasse, and divorce becomes an inevitable reality.

At one time in my career, I’d have considered divorce as an outcome of therapy to be a failure—by the couple and by me. But over the years, I’ve learned to think of it as another opportunity to help. I’ve come to realize that I can support divorcing couples by helping them explore viable alternatives to the often wounding and adversarial legal process that normally ends marriages—a process that can make what’s already a bad situation for the couple, their children, and their extended families incalculably worse. I’ve learned that I can help couples end their union in as thoughtful and pragmatic a way as possible. In other words, both partners can come through the experience with their dignity intact, their sanity whole, and in a greater spirit of cooperation and goodwill—attributes they’ll need as they continue to…

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1 Comment

Monday, August 3, 2015 7:31:50 PM | posted by Hope Stanger
Tammy,
Thank you for writing and sharing this excellent article!
I especially appreciate the parts about the creating rituals for ending.
I've been saying for many years that we enter into relationships with so much ritual (the first meeting; the first date; the first kiss...) but nothing for endings except painful emotions. Teaching people that we can end a relationship with the same honoring and acknowledgement as we began it is so vital to truly healing when a couple chooses to dissolve their partnership.
Beautiful - thank you~