Coping techniques: Dissolving a relationship

Please note that you should always consult with your physician before making any changes in your diet, your level of exercise and activity, medication or behaviors related to substance use.

The best way to make use of these techniques is to read through them, select three that stand out to you and practice them. I would be glad to hear from you on your responses.

  1. Determine whether your relationship works. This might mean articulating with your partner, possibly for the first time, what constitutes a working relationship. It might also mean articulating this to yourself for the first time.
  2. Determine whether you have tried everything either or both of you can think of to address and support the relationship, so that it isn’t being abandoned prematurely.
  3. Don’t attack the other person. Rather than yielding to emotions such as fear, anger or a desire for revenge concentrate on making plans for the future—your future.
  4. Therefore redirect your focus from small issues, such as objects, to larger ones.
  5. Consider the other relationships in place around the one you’re dissolving—children, in-laws, mutual friends you originally met through your partner. If you want to keep those relationships intact be mindful of subjecting them to the stress of taking sides.
  6. As you consider separation, what does autonomy mean to you? What functions, strengths, blames has your partner been carrying for you that you will now need to carry for yourself?
  7. Consider that if you’re going to be taking back strengths and weaknesses, you can as well take back your original expectations, whether those were that you would be secure, contented or always happy. By taking responsibility for these needs you can reduce any resentment you feel that your partner didn’t meet them. This is doing deliberate work so that you don’t carry a grudge away from the relationship. Knowing your own needs, and working to meet them, are part of autonomy.
  8. What needs to be in put in place before the final divorce? This might include child-raising plans, financial arrangements or upcoming events. Will you want to consult with professionals about these matters?
  9. When children are present in the relationship, put their needs first. This means remaining mindful of both their autonomy and their dependence on both parents. In terms of autonomy remember that they are not pawns in the divorce negotiation, or messengers, or objects to either win or deny to the other person. In terms of dependence remember that children need both parents and relative stability. Avoid negotiating the divorce in front of them, and refrain from making disparaging remarks about the other person in front of them.
  10. Going forward. In order to continue in a positive relationship after divorce, possibly to continue to raise children without subjecting them to unnecessary conflicts, consider letting go of the story so far. Old scores, narratives about disappointment, injured trust or a general sense of having been wronged and therefore owed by the other person—all of these have meaning. But the meaning relates to the relationship before divorce.
  11. Therefore rather than focusing on divorce as an end—which it is—consider focusing on it as a beginning of a new and clearer time. Because it can be that, as well.
  12. If you are going to divorce, it will not be useful for you to continue to ascribe any of your unmet needs to your partner as being their continuing responsibility. This includes that they will provide you with validation for your story of what the relationship was about and why it’s ended. Do you need their validation for your story to be real for you? Is it possible that you can carry your truth without anyone else’s help?