Category Archives: Breakups and Divorce

Unhook from Your Ex

Do you keep getting hooked back in by your ex? Unhealthy communication from your ex will keep you tied to them and can prevent you from moving on fully. You certainly won’t be fully available to a new partner if you are stuck in a toxic ex-relationship! How do you recognise if they are hooking you in?
If the communication is designed to make you feel either guilty or sorry for them, it’s an unhealthy hook.
How to respond:
1. Remind yourself that they are no longer your responsibility. MAKE THIS YOUR MANTRA! Repeat it to yourself till it sinks into your subconscious.
2. Stop communicating with them. This may sound drastic but you can’t make them change their behaviour. You can however extract yourself from their behaviour.
If you want to move on, unhook yourself now.


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Your friends are invested in your marriage

I remember being really distressed at a friend’s response when I told her that I was getting a divorce. She was someone who I considered a good friend and when I called her I expected understanding and kindness. She was cold and critical, and in fact pretty much stopped communicating with me.

It was one of the most surprising and hurtful experiences of my divorce.

The responses of your friends are likely to be varied. Some will be predictable and others will surprise you. Over the years, working with clients on how to tell friends about your divorce, many have said that they have been shocked by a friend’s less than supportive response. More than that, they were confused. ‘But why did he/she react like that? Don’ they want me to be happy? I thought we were friends.’

Remember that your friends’ response to your divorce isn’t just about you….its about them. Your friends are invested in your marriage. It represents stability, certainty and order. Their investment is on two levels – the personal and the symbolic.

On the personal level is about how the pattern of how you and your partner fit into their life. Perhaps you regularly go out for drinks as part of a close knit group. Or you share the same interests and have good conversations and have ‘in jokes’. Maybe you holiday together each year. Or your kids go to the same school and you do parents evenings together. As odd as it may sound, your divorce will disrupt their pattern.

On the symbolic level ‘Marriage – Good. Divorce – Bad’. Divorce is of course much more accepted now, but it is accepted as an unfortunate event. It makes people uncomfortable.

If your friends give you a less than supportive response remember that they might be more invested in your relationship than you realise. Hopefully this will help to make sense of their reaction and give you a starting point to discuss it with them. Check this out


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A Healthy Divorce

I remember when I was getting my divorce I was quite happy to announce to people, “I’m getting a divorce,” in a tone of voice that was bubbly and exuberant. Mostly, people didn’t know how to respond.

Divorce is one of those topics that’s not exactly taboo; its just that we haven’t found a way to talk about it in a healthy and natural way. Divorce is absent in our cultural mythology; we can talk easily about weddings but not divorces. We don’t have the scripts with which to discuss separation and divorce. Finding new language with which to discuss divorce is key to finding healthier experiences of it.

In this radio show for Natural Health Radio I join Jackie Walker to discuss what it means to have a healthy divorce. Once you click on the link you’ll find the ‘Play now’ or ‘Download’ buttons just underneath the description


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I’m Getting A Divorce – Is It Okay To Feel Excited?

People experience multiple emotions during the process of divorce. Its not straightforward misery! The prospect of a new start brings positive feelings but its easy to feel guilty about feeling good. I explore this in the post below.

Guest Post: Vena Ramphal, “I’m Getting A Divorce – Is It Okay To Feel Excited?”.


Indelible Marks on the Heart

You don’t need to wait for your heart to ‘get over’ someone before you move on with your life. If you waited for that, you’d possibly never move on. Some romances mark your heart indelibly. The trick is to allow your heart to have its mark and to move forward simultaneously.

Don’t trip up on the idea of having one true love. The heart is roomier than you might think. Just because you’ve lost one true love doesn’t mean you can’t have another. You can have many.

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Posted by on 16/11/2012 in Breakups and Divorce, Love


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Let your body help you with heartbreak

You can’t make your heart heal straight after a break up. That happens at its own pace. But I’ve noticed that pampering your body helps to get you through that initial pain.

Eat comfortingly and sleep cosily.

Get massages. Hug your friends. Have sex. Touch is good. Good touch heals.


Posted by on 11/11/2012 in Breakups and Divorce, Love


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The Heart in Transition

Recently, I’ve been discussing transition with a number of clients – the space between one relationship and another, when feelings for your previous partner haven’t completely gone, but feelings for someone else have started.

A number of people feel uncomfortable about this, even guilty. The thing is that the heart doesn’t work in a linear way. Its more than capable of holding feelings for more than one person. I think that people can struggle to accept their heart’s capacity for non-monogamous, non-linear emotion because our culture values the tidiness of commitment-to-one over the fluidity of more-than-one.

But the heart doesn’t understand tidiness. Emotions are mucky – that’s their glory.

The key to this transition space is to be easy about the messiness. Don’t overthink it, and don’t impose a timeline on your heart. Let it have its own timeline. And one day, of its own accord, the transition will be complete.


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The post-Christmas Divorce Urge

Christmas 2004 – it was the last Christmas I spent as a married woman. I remember it distinctly. I was deeply unhappy and in my heart I knew that I no longer wanted to be in this marriage, but in my head I hadn’t made that decision. It felt overwhelming to even think about it as a real possibility.
Statistically, January is the time when most couples split up. But leaping into action is probably not the best solution. Our human nature is uncomfortable with discomfort. So we look for a solution, rushing into action.
Based on my own experience, there are a number of things you can usefully do before rushing to see a solicitor.

1. Take time for yourself. Conventional advice is more along the lines of ‘keep communicating with your partner.’ No. The point is that there has been a lot of communicating – or perhaps miscommunicating – over Christmas. Carve out time in your schedule to be in your own company. This way you’ll hear your own voice.

2. Respect your own privacy. Discuss your dilemma with as few people as possible, and choose those few well.

3. Get support from a neutral source – a professional, if appropriate. There is a difference between discussing your process with a friend and getting support from someone neutral.

In December of 2004 I discussed my dilemna with three people who love me deeply and whose integrity I trust. At the start of January 2005 it was clear to me that I needed to speak with someone external to the situation. Over the next two months I spoke with two professionals – a coach and a counsellor. This was invaluable in making my choice clear, and my course of action as frictionless as possible.



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Getting married won’t fix it

I’ve had two conversations this week which have surprised and saddened me. The gist of both was the same – I was speaking with people who believed that getting married was the solution to relationship problems. It makes no sense – how does binding yourself legally to someone resolve pre-existing discontent? And why would you bind yourself legally to pre-exisisting discontent?

‘But at least then we’ll be committed.’

‘Well, if nothing else it’ll make his parents happy if he was married.’

‘And she’ll feel better once she’s settled down.’

Aaaarrghh! I couldn’t believe I was hearing this. Had I timewarped to the 1950s? How is it possible that in 2011, people are still willing to commit to misery?

On reflection, I realised that at the heart of this ill-logic was the deep seated belief that being married is the holy grail – not only of relationship, but of the wider fabric of a person’s life. It was almost existential – grasping at the confetti, not to provide happiness but to secure a committed discontent.

I think the braver and happier option is to dive into the dynamics of the relationship. There will be gifts of passion wrapped inside the discontent. The outer form of relationship will follow naturally.


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From Uncertainty to Fun: Navigating The Three Stages of Divorce

When working with clients who are separating or divorcing, I find it helpful to approach it as a three stage process.

1. Uncertainty and making the decision about whether to continue the marriage or to end it.

2. The transition period between feeling married and feeling single.

3. Beginning the new phase in your life.

Here is my key piece of advice for each of these stages.

Stage 1. Stay in the uncertainty for as long as you need. Only make the choice when it feels obvious. I’m often asked what to do when your heart says one thing, but your head says another. My advice is to wait until your heart and head are in agreement.

Stage 2. When it comes to friends and family, be self centred. You don’t need to explain your decision or keep other people happy. Its highly likely that friends and family will have emotionally charged responses. Keep conversations brief if you need to. If someone is asking more questions than you want to answer, don’t be afraid to say, ‘ I’m not going to discuss that.’  Don’t expect those close to you to respond in a way that suits you; they’ll be going through their own process just as much as you are. Have no expectations of them; but treat yourself well.

Find conversations with people who are in a position to be supportive. These may be people who you don’t know so well. It may sound counter-intuitive but because they are less emotionally invested in you, they’ll find it easier to support you.

Stage 3. Don’t delay having fun. Many people feel either bitterness (if they’ve been left) or guilt (if they’ve done the leaving). Both these emotions are corrosive. They shrivel a person, and are the building blocks of misery. The trouble is that divorcees often think they need to wait till they get over the divorce before they start to really live again. The heart does not work in that linear way. It doesn’t line up emotions and move through them in a tidy sequence. The heart is messy, convoluted and non-logical. Deal with it. Start having fun now. Its in the having fun that the grief will dissipate.

Finally – and this applies to the whole process – don’t worry about what other people think.


Posted by on 02/06/2011 in Breakups and Divorce


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