Failed communication is one of the biggest mistakes. And it’s not surprising. Separating adults often have to communicate when they are struggling emotionally or have to communicate with someone who is experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions – hurt, blame, anger, resentment, confusion and fear of the future. Name an emotion you don’t like to feel, and it’s probably going to be experienced by you or your former partner during separation. Even worse, you and your former partner can be experiencing these intense emotions at different times, making communication even more difficult. As your coach, I can help improve the communication in a variety of ways such as practical suggestions, reviewing emails, role-playing and practising important conversations which you want or need to have with your former partner.
Unintentional emotional injuries. There has been a tremendous amount of research on the impact of separation and divorce on children. In Australia, we are blessed with amazing research including that published by the Australian Institute of Families Studies (AIFS) and many other organisations. The studies have a powerful message - it’s not separation that damages children, it’s being exposed to conflict. This is one of my main motivators for working as a coach and a mediator. I want to help parents navigate their separation in a way that reduces negative impacts on children. This may include education, improving communication, providing referrals and helping parents be their best self so that when the process of separation is complete they can look back and say, “Love is a verb. I demonstrated this love by being the best parent I was able to be during a really difficult time.”
Making decisions without adequate information. Most people are inexperienced at separation and are unaware of the resources that are available to assist them through this experience. You want to have enough information about the major decisions you are facing whether that be articles, books, audio material or meetings with other professionals. As your coach, I can provide you with resources and referrals to other experts appropriate for your needs and goals.
Relying on inaccurate information or being overly influenced by others. During separation, it is absolutely natural to turn to family and friends for support and guidance. However, no matter how well-intentioned, family and friends may confuse or misguide you with their own negative experiences or misinformation. There is also the tendency, especially at this time, to be a victim of confirmation bias. That is, you are searching for and favouring information told to you by family and friends that are going to confirm your beliefs. Coaching can help you assess information and experiences so that you come to better decisions about your underlying interests rather than be fixed in your position.
Blind-spots in our thinking. Even at the best of times, we have blind spots in our thinking but the emotional impact of separation can make us more blinkered than ever, preventing us from seeing other opportunities. As your coach, I can help you discover other options through deep listening and powerful questioning.
Lack of knowledge about “the business of separation”. Depending on your situation, separation can involve interacting with a range of professionals such as lawyers, accountants, mediators, family consultants, property valuers and home loan experts. Some clients may be inexperienced and lack confidence in dealing with such professionals, while others may find they are overwhelmed with the tasks involved. As your coach, I can help with the organisation aspect of separation and help you prepare for important conversations so that you are in a position to make the best decisions for your situation.
Relying on another relationship to save you. As your coach, I encourage you to make the best decisions based on your interests and to have your “eyes wide open” before you make decisions - particularly major compromises - based on reliance on a new relationship.
Throwing in the towel. Often, separating adults feel they have no choice. It’s understandable that if you are exhausted, overwhelmed and under-resourced that you may just decide to give in to what the other person wants. But this can lead to regret particularly if you don’t have the resources to move forward to your next chapter as positively as possible. A coach can help you find ways to replenish yourself so that you can keep participating in decision-making; whether that be stepping back, slowing the process down, establishing healthy habits or returning to activities that bring you joy.
Becoming too fixed on a position. There are many reasons this can happen including not having enough information or not realising that there may be other ways to achieve the interests that underlie your position. And sometimes when an ex-partner is trying to force you to change your mind this can cause you to react by “digging your heels in” without looking at other options. As your coach, I help you see your situation from different perspectives and look at the big picture of your solutions.
I'd like to acknowledge Pegotty Cooper, the Co-Founder of CDC Divorce Coaching, for inspiring this post. Pegotty and Randy Cooper's books, including "Divorce: Overcome the Overwhelm and Avoid the Six Biggest Mistakes" are also available on Amazon.