Divorced with Love Part Two: Finding a Way Forward
Last week I began a series of conversations with Michael Schiesser and Neelama Eyres, co-authors of Divorced with Love, and co-founders of Inner Journey Institute, an organization dedicated to helping couples navigate divorce with love and awareness. They were also once married, share custody of a child and are happily divorced. That’s right. Happily divorced.
Michael and Neelama made the decision to have a loving divorce. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t immediate. But they wanted to emphasize dignity and compassion and see if they could co-parent—and even, at times, cohabitate—with kindness.
I spoke with the couple about their journey through marriage and divorce. And Last week (link to last week’s blog), I discussed the early stages of their split—making the decision to go separate ways, assuming the typical roles of “leaver” versus “left”, and the long tail these dynamics can have.
This week, I’d like to focus on what happened once they turned the corner in their relationship.
The Two Poles: Blame and Guilt
We love polarity. In stories of any breakup, we feel we must always have the victim and the perpetrator, the hero and the villain. But what that thinking does is create a dynamic of victim and perpetrator that can be damaging to both sides.
Letting Go of Being Right
This realization of Michael and Neelama’s was simple to say, but extremely hard to do—to let go of winning. They lived through this themselves and understand that for divorcing couples, “you can’t change what your ex did or didn’t do. The only thing you really have control of is you.”
Ask Hard Questions…of Yourself
And that is where the hard work really starts. It’s recognizing your role in dissolution of the marriage. For Michael and Neelama, they both had to stop and really look at what they did to contribute to the end of the marriage. They asked how they contributed to the breakdown. What they needed to face was the difficult task of discovering the truth rather than insisting on being right.
Admitting you played a part in the unsustainable dynamic is a key breakthrough. It’s a step toward acknowledging that you may have done something wrong or at least helped make possible the bad behavior of your spouse.
Let Yourself Feel—Even if It Hurts
Neelama points out, “it’s natural to go through a phase of anger, bitterness and resentment.” And admitting that your behavior wasn’t perfect can be hard to do.
Writing as a Therapeutic Tool
Now, Neelama and Michael had a unique opportunity to process their split through writing. They co-authored a book, taking turns composing their version of events. It led—perhaps inevitably—to bickering. But it also led to breakthrough.
What they realized was that they each had their own memory and even experience of events. The events were important or memorable, they marked moments of disappointment, frustration, hurt and anger. But what was most remarkable to Neelama and Michael, was that the facts were different based on who was remembering it. They’ve left both versions in the final draft of the book: “we left the discrepancies in because the healing that happened was recognizing, it doesn’t actually matter…what matters is ‘you experienced it that way and I experienced it this way.’”
In doing that, they were able to close the book on the pain and move forward.
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.