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5 Reasons Counseling Can Help You Separate Well

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

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There I was, witnessing an entire week of emotional breakups. Two lovely people, who had been good to each other, but something just wasn’t working. Maybe one wanted kids and the other didn’t. Maybe one wanted time to explore their career and the other wanted commitment. I sat there reflecting on how two people can really, really love each other, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Sometimes it is a difference in values. Sometimes it is the timeline. Sometimes it is different life goals.

Oftentimes, couples lives are entangled and the only motive to stay together is the inconvenience of untangling. After observing how hard any separations can be, I began to wonder - why is there counseling for staying together, but no counseling for couples who have already decided that they need to separate? Perhaps it is the fact that not many breakups are peaceful, there are a lot of hurt feelings and malicious retaliation. After all, who wants to hang out with an ex after a breakup? The problem is the logistics of life leave us with no other choice. Whether it is the division of assets or making arrangements for co-parenting (this includes pets!), sometimes it is not as easy as saying we’re done! This got me thinking, people need support in having these tough conversations. Here are the 5 reasons counseling is helpful while going through a separation:

  1. You are going through a massive grief, and it is difficult to make good decisions when you are hurting. Ever heard the phrase hurt people, hurt people? Well, it’s true. These kind of breakups need grief counseling. When you have been in a long-term relationship that involves elements of security that are now being disrupted through a breakup, it is really challenging to keep your cool. You need emotional support from a non-biased third party who is going to help you heal so that you can make decisions that are in alignment with your needs and your values. Whether together or individually, if your heart is broken, look into getting counseling for that loss so that you can move through your separation both having the opportunity to feel all the feels, and avoid making emotionally reactive choices.

  2. When two people enjoy the financial benefits of sharing expenses, expect life to be more expensive when you separate. Divorce and separation are likely to be financial setbacks. I often see individuals trying to leave a relationship financially whole. Deciding what is financially fair is no easy task. While you may not care what kind of living conditions your ex is left with, perhaps those conditions will have an impact on your children.The more comfortable you can both be in the long run, the more peace you will have if you have to continue to interact. This is different from mediation, because it takes into account the continued quality of life of all parties involved moving forward. However, mediation is a great way to get legally binding support that can also be amicable.

  3. Peer pressure is a creativity killer. This is your life. You and your ex are the ones who will have to suffer the impact of the separation, but everyone is going to have an opinion about what to do. Good counseling around separating should help you explore possibilities. Your solution to divorce might not look like everyone else’s. Having a good support system is wise, however, be mindful to surround yourself with people who are able to suspend judgment and who have your best interests at heart. Likewise, look for a counselor who can share reflections without opinions or judgment. Your therapist should not push you toward or away from a decision, but can help you challenge your way of thinking to help you make more educated choices.

  4. The end of a relationship can be a bit like a phoenix. Without a clear ending, the relationship can linger in a state of molting for years. It can’t keep going the way that it is, and yet you feel uncertain that ending the relationship is the right thing to do. It is hard to heal from a bad relationship when that relationship never ends. The dance of back and forth leaves many falling into old patterns and hopes that will never come to fruition. To help you reach clarity, try asking yourself, can I be the best version of myself while with this person? If the answer is no, it is a relationship that is going to hold you back. Have hope for a relationship that is going to help you become the best version of yourself, and you can see yourself supporting someone else in becoming the best version of themselves. However, if you allow one relationship to end, there is always the possibility that a new relationship may emerge with the same person. One with better boundaries and expectations. Like a phoenix, you may have a rebirth of a friendship, or even new romantic relationship down the road with the same person, but you must cut off the patterns that are leaving both of you miserable.

  5. The idea of using counseling to separate well, only works when two people have the capacity to wish the other party well. While it can be tricky to navigate who “deserves” what in a separation, those who enjoy making the other party miserable are not ready for separating well. Again, hurt people, hurt people. Counseling for separation isn’t about the therapist telling you what to do, or getting involved in your legal agenda. It is about providing you with the space and time to have difficult conversations that need to be had, while someone is playing referee - making sure that there is mutual respect and all parties involved (including children) are being considered. Even if your separation is amicable, it is never fun to talk about selling houses and splitting equity. It isn’t fun to decide where the kids will be on what holidays. Your therapist can help each of you express your needs, concerns, and feelings with each other without it turning into a major altercation.

If you think you might be interested in separation counseling, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation.

DD Love, MFTC - (970) 852-0687 -

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