Brenda Lee Roberts, M. Ed., LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor that has been in Private Practice in the DFW Metroplex since 2004. She specializes as a Mental Health Professional in the Collaborative Law Process, a Parent Facilitator, Adoption Home Studies, Disputed Custody Custody Evaluator and offers individual counseling. She has completed over 200 social studies and 50 Collaborative Law cases.
Marriages are relationships, and all relationships have a history. The relationship’s history sets the stage for the emotions during the ending of that relationship. Relationship histories, otherwise called our “stories,” can carry with them a lot of pain, anger, blaming, rigidity, black-and-white thinking and hidden agendas.
These emotions, while very important to work through, work against us in the process of divorce. The emotions can cause the divorce to drag out, increase anger and hurt feelings, and cost more money.
Our stories have the capability of keeping us from being resilient while going through one of the most difficult times in our lives. Examples of some of our stories could be:
➢ “I worked a full time job and took care of the family so he could finish his education.”
➢ “I was taking care of the kids while he/she was having an affair.”
➢ “We were fresh out of high school and had a lot of growing to do. I grew up but he didn’t.”
If I were to ask every person ending a relationship what he or she learned, I’m certain each one would have a story to share.
When looking at the end of a relationship, it’s important to talk about the painful memories, how you felt when it happened and how you saw yourself and your spouse. It helps us heal and move forward. However, when we stay stuck in our stories, it prevents us from being able to move forward, to lay those memories to rest and to forgive. Forgiveness does not mean excusing behaviors, forgetting behaviors or saying those behaviors didn’t happen. Forgiveness does mean I am ready to let these things go so that I can be at peace; I am ready to move forward.
Professionals trained in Collaborative Law know that the litigation way of divorce has the potential to leave people stuck in their stories rather than promoting closure. It allows people to let go of the stories that keep them stuck and prevents them from being able to co-parent post-divorce or develop new, healthy relationships post-marriage. Collaborative Law sets the stage for individuals to be able to say, “I am ready to move beyond this. I am ready to let go and focus on my future. I’m ready to let go of our story and create my story.”
Collaborative Law has the potential to create new beginnings out of relationships that are ending. It asks us to end our stories in a way that does not destroy or savagely rip and tear but to be a better person. It asks us to set aside our anger and hurt long enough to get through one of the most difficult times in our lives. It asks us who we are at our core and it asks us as individuals and as human beings, “What is your story?”