In working with the volume of parents I do on a daily basis, one constant I notice in ongoing conflict cases is the subconscious emotional attachment each parent has to the past relationship, or to their co-parent. Yet, if I asked any of these parents if they were still emotionally attached, they would disagree and give a resolute ‘NO’.
Emotional attachment is both positive and negative. The positive emotional attachments such as love, a sense of security, unity, etc bind a couple. Equally, and rarely considered are the negative attachments. Those being, revenge, loathing, anger, control, hurt, just to name a few.
It is this unrecognised ongoing attachment that drives conflict and causes an unhealthy co-parenting relationship.
Detachment brings a more neutral state of mind. Considered responses rather than reactions, neutral emotions like calmness, solution or future-focused, a sense of security, for example. And, importantly, allows the pathway for child-centered thinking for co-parents.
The following image demonstrates this further.
The physical end to your relationship was easier to comprehend and make sense of because it has tangible results. You begin to live apart, separate your finances and make your own decisions. Letting go of the emotional end is less obvious.
Letting go of the binds of a past relationship is not the opposite of love. It is not hateful, scornful, or vengeful.
Letting go is a position of neutrality and a sense of freedom to choose engagement in a new life. It is being solution-focused and self-aware that you are in control of your happiness moving forward.
Attitude shifts to achieve neutrality
- Attitude of Acceptance.
Have you heard the saying, ‘it is what it is’? It’s a powerful place from which to view your relationship breakdown. You can hold onto all the past drama, hurt, and resentment, or you can accept that regardless of how much you tried, you are now in this place at this point in time, with your future ahead of you. Say to yourself, ‘so this is where I am now’, and acknowledge that you’re okay.
- Perspective Taking
Being able to take perspective means being able to acknowledge your own needs and desires as well as appreciating the needs and desires of your co-parent. It’s a superpower that will change the course of your co-parenting when it’s given time and practice to become a part of your life. It means being able to consider from above what the terrain of your decisions will look like below. Of course, you can choose destruction in perspective, but why would you? You wanted to leave your relationship behind, not take it with you to the future. If taking the perspective of another helps you to choose a less adversarial path, why wouldn’t you?
This is a hard one for some people, especially if they feel deeply wronged or attacked by another. Forgiveness does not magically absolve someone of the harm they’ve caused you. Neither will it magically make you feel a loving attachment toward them.
Forgiveness allows you to move on from the hurt, and to practice boundaries for yourself so as to not allow that harm to occur again. Importantly though, it leaves way for the necessary co-parenting communication to continue, so that your children are not further impacted by any sense of conflict. It means letting go of resentment and anger to free you to a more peaceful future.
Quite simply, if you hold onto the attachment through negative emotions about your past relationship you will never have ended that relationship. Is that really what you wanted?
Learn to let go.