Divorced with Love Part One: A Unique (and Loving) Split

A loving divorce—one that foregrounds dignity and compassion—may sound like a fantasy. We just don’t see that very often in the news or on TV. With over 800,000 couples divorcing each year, it’s a wonder the stereotype of angry, bitter divorce persists. Surely, there’s a better way?

My recent guests helped forge one—through their own personal struggle. Michael Schiesser and Neelama Eyres have a unique personal story that informs their outlook on divorce. Co-authors of Divorced with Love, and co-founders of Inner Journey Institute, the couple’s own journey through marriage and divorce taught them that a compassionate and kind divorce is possible. I sat down in conversation with them to find out how they pulled off the seemingly impossible.

A Love Story

Michael and Neelama were married for two years when they started their family. But two years after the birth of their special needs son, the couple divorced. And, as is typical in stories of divorce, acrimony grew. Each side dug in their heels; the conflicts escalated. They were headed down a predictable path of pointing fingers, feeling guilty and harboring anger. Until they decided not to. For the sake of their son—and their own dignity and happiness—they decided to forge a new path forward. They knew it would require inner work and their own healing. But, after some time and work, they became great friends. They even moved back in together and relocated to another state to be close to their son’s treatment center. Now, they work together to help other couples find the same peace and healing that they’ve achieved.

The Roles: Leaver vs. Left

One of the toughest parts of making peace with divorce is that it has only two roles: the leaver and the left. Michael speaks candidly about the feelings harbored by the spouse who feels like this decision was thrust upon them. There’s a reason this thinking persists, he says, “this little part of me felt so much happier when it was all her fault”.

There is, in divorce, a “guilt continuum” with the person who leaves (usually, the woman) often residing squarely on the guilt side, blaming themselves (or being blamed) for everything. The other person—the one who was left—often enjoys the emotional freedom of being guiltless.

The Healing

But Michael and Naleema found a way to enter into a new relationship—or rather, a new stage of their relationship. They both individually decided, for the sake of their son, their careers and, most importantly, their own personal growth, to find a way to do their divorce differently. They decided to work together and let go of the “leaver”—“left” polarity. This process allowed them to take the important step of self-reflection to examine the part they played in a relationship that was unsustainable.

Next week we’ll dig deeper into their process for a kinder approach to divorce.

If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.