What’s it like to have a divorce coach?

by | 7 Sep 2021

When I first separated, I hadn’t heard of a divorce coach. I had no idea how one could help. If I could go back and change just one thing about my divorce, it would have been to get a divorce coach from the start.

Whatever stage you’re at with separation and divorce, a divorce coach is a great person to contact. There are a few of us (and it’s a growing industry) so you can find the right coach for you. In most cases, divorce coaches have experienced divorce firsthand. Some are former lawyers and many had a professional career before retraining as a coach. I was a coach before I separated, and this evolved into divorce coaching – a job I love. We’re all in this because we know separation and divorce is difficult and we believe we can help.

Divorce coaches aim to help you find your way through the process, with a focus on the practical and emotional side of the journey.

As I tell all my clients, no one’s ever had your divorce before. This gives you a certain amount of power and control over your experience of the process. However, with a legal dimension AND another person (and possibly children) involved, there will be times when you do not feel powerful, times you crave control or feel frustrated and confused. Divorce coaching and consultancy helps with this.

Whatever your situation or circumstance, there is a weighty emotional dimension to divorce and separation. You might have experienced sadness or frustration over a period of months or years; you might be shocked or heartbroken at your partner’s decision. You might be relieved or terrified at the prospect of separation and divorce. You may have excellent support or you may feel isolated. As I said, no one has had this divorce before, and what you are feeling is probably completely normal.

Divorce coaching aims to make separation and divorce bearable. This is how I do it.

Firstly, I am here to listen: sometimes, talking to someone who ‘gets it’ is enough to make you feel much better. As I listen, I seek to understand your point of view. This can bring relief and helps you to feel supported. It can ease isolation and provide reassurance and helps you to dial down the tension.

Secondly, during sessions, I help you to find clarity. Clarity makes a tricky situation seem much easier to manage. I am here to help you to ‘bring things to light’: this could be a new perspective or a deeper-seated issue. I sometimes identify patterns of behaviour (e.g. narcissism, emotional abuse (from you ex)) or help people shift a sense of blame or failure. People often comment ‘no one else understands’ and it can be such a relief to be able to talk without having to explain everything, as I already understand the context. I’ve seen under the bonnet of lots of different separations and divorces. I’ve heard people’s deepest secrets and darkest fears. I’ve seen people in states of terror and distress as well as emerging confidence and blessed relief.

If you need emotional support first and foremost, divorce coaching offers that. I know what it feels like to experience marriage breakdown, separation and divorce as well as coparenting. I have watched the way life moves on afterwards (it does!). I understand you may have mixed feelings, or be in two minds about separation; that you might feel guilty or responsible or just plain sad, and that you are not ‘at your best’ at the moment. No matter how professional or accomplished you are, divorce can stop you thinking straight, so coaching sessions go at your pace so you understand what you need to do next (as well as ‘how’ and ‘why’).

Often, divorce coaching and consultancy is very practical. I often get asked to look at correspondence. Some parents find it difficult to speak to one another and often generate reams of texts and e mails. These can be filled with acrimony or ludicrous suggestions (I sometimes say the worst person to get legal advice from is your ex. I am not joking) and can be painful to read. I have the benefit of objectivity and experience so we can go over these messages together and decide whether or not to respond, and how best to do so. Saying nothing is sometimes enough – but even that takes decisiveness. On other occasions, follow up is required: it may be something you can do straight away, or perhaps it’s something to discuss with a lawyer. Planning ahead is integral to the coaching experience and can help you with your separation and divorce.

About half my clients come to me mid-way through a high conflict divorce. They usually have a lawyer, and may have a pending court date. At these moments, divorce can feel messy and relentless and there can be a sense of ‘where did it all go wrong?’ In these situations we separate the strands and decide where action needs to be taken or how you can find things easier. Lawyers seem increasingly keen to see their clients working with a coach because of the support it provides during a challenging time, which in turn makes the legal process easier to manage.

In a co parenting situation, emotions can run extremely high. Let’s be honest, parenting is tough enough even if you’re happily married, but co parenting through separation and divorce (and beyond) has its own challenges. I have children myself (as well as a professional background in education) and I know what it’s like! Some clients want to double-check the wording of an e mail, or decide how to respond to a situation in their new context as a separated parent (hello, boundaries), or express concerns about a change in a child’s behaviour. I have a host of professional contacts I can recommend, or we can sit down together over Zoom and draft that e mail/plan that event/find the tools to manage a situation. It’s all about finding the right help for you: there’s nothing one-size-fits-all about this.

Separation and divorce are not all doom and gloom. I love to see clients feeling optimistic about the new chapter of their lives: enjoying some child-free nights or making time to try something new. If you’ve been married for many years you might be daunted about being single again but there’s a whole world out there for you to enjoy, and lots of opportunities to make both new friends and new memories. Single parenting (co parenting) can have both ups and downs. There is much to look forward to… and you don’t know that you’ll be single for long.

To summarise, if you’re separating or getting divorced and want to make this as easy on yourself as possible, consider getting a coach. With the right coach you will get a listening ear, clarity, access to coaching tools, an action plan, a little black book of additional support, a professional ally and someone who has confidence in YOU.

Divorce is a key life event: something you are going to remember for ever. This is what draws me to my work. I want to help you through this life-changing experience so that you feel you have both clarity and support. I understand you may be nervous, overwhelmed or even cynical about divorce coaching. If this is the case, the best way for you to find out more about working with me is to get in touch to organise a complimentary Zoom call over coffee. You can read some testimonials here and email me in confidence at lucy@divorcenavigator.co.uk

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