There is a concept in separation and divorce in which there is often a disparity between where each party are emotionally in relation to the separation.
While some couples come to the decision together, in many cases one party has already made the decision to leave long before they’ve told the other. They are referred to as ‘the leaver’. This can cause a great deal of frustration for the person who is being left.
As you will see from the inserted graphic, the leaver is ahead at every stage. By the time they are making new plans and coming to terms with their life ahead, the left is only just finding out. This in itself can cause a great deal of conflict.
What happens then is the grief cycle for the left, which the leaver has already had time to come to terms with, is only just beginning. For the leaver, there are heightened emotions, often denial and sometimes still trying to save the relationship. This is discussed in full in the parenting after separation course.
The message I encourage separating parents to understand is to have an understanding that you are each on the same path but at different stages. You will ultimately both come to a place of acceptance, however, if you can respect that each of you is at different stages, this will go smoother.
Consider the graphic and where you are now.
Were you the leaver or the left?
Where is your co-parent at on this scale?
What do you think life looks for them now?
What do you think they experienced at various stages?
This is just some food for thought. You may not come up with all the answers you need right away. Processing relationship grief and loss is an individual journey and can take time. You will come through this in the end.
Jasmin Newman is an accredited and registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, Parenting Coordinator and Director of Parenting After Separation Courses.