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Divorce is traumatic. In 2014, conscious uncoupling showed us a better way when exes Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin had their oh-so-friendly split. If you’ve forgotten, this New Age-y term refers to both parties creating self-awareness around their breakup instead of getting entrenched in a bitter blame battle.


But what if your ex cheated? is a chronic liar? Or, in the case of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, he’s struggling with addiction? Or how do you consciously uncouple when you’re entangled in “War of the Roses?”


I’ve been there.


My divorce could’ve easily gone bad. The end of my marriage was devastating and heartbreaking. My ex cheated. I was eight months pregnant. When my husband left, I was a hopeless, hormonal train-wreck, drowning in depression and self-doubt. I didn’t know who I was anymore or how I was going to get through it.


I waited two years before I filed for divorce (in some countries they actually make couples wait that long). It was a blessing because during that time I was able to step back from my emotions and step into myself. As a result, I went into my divorce stronger, wiser, and more self-assured.


Six months into the divorce process, my ex and I fired our lawyers and got a mediator. That never would’ve happened if we had jumped into the legalities of our separation right away when anger, shame, and blame were running high and hot. We wouldn’t have been able to make rational decisions about what’s best for both of us going forward and more importantly, what’s best for our daughter.


My parent’s divorce was not pretty. Its ugly aftershock reverberated for years. Every time my Dad picked my brother and me up, we’d run out the door so my parents wouldn’t have to see each other. We lived in the middle of their emotional battle. I decided my daughter wouldn’t have the same experience — not if I could do something about it.


Conscious uncoupling isn’t always easy. Over the years I’ve struggled with my ex’s unpredictable behavior, miscommunications, and a demanding girlfriend. Not fun. Each time I practiced kind detachment for the sake of our daughter. This doesn’t mean I was a doormat. I spoke up when I needed to. We’ve had uncomfortable, tough conversations. But I didn’t take out my sword every time to slay the dragon.


I made the commitment to work out our differences instead of creating a deeper divide.


Regardless of how the breakup happened or how painful your separation was, you’re both entitled to have a healthy relationship with your kids. And there’s no shame in giving or getting help when needed.


In the ten years since my divorce, I’ve listened to my ex’s struggles, supported him through his break up, spent time with him in London (while he was working on his film), had Christmas mornings together, sat through dinners and coffee dates where we discussed schedules, our lives, and how best to support our daughter.


Even though our marriage died, our friendship survived.


My compassion became our mutual bridge to walk on.


It hasn’t always been easy. Emotions kicked in when we discussed who’d take our daughter for Thanksgiving, why he picked her up late (again), or when last-minute changes got sprung on me about Spring Break. Each time respect, communication, and kindness got us through.


So, what do you do when “Conscious Uncoupling” gets complicated?


  • You treat your ex with the same respect and kindness. Because even if he’s being a jerk, the benefits of kindness outweigh the coldhearted comebacks you’ll get if you react with anger. If your goal is to hurt or punish your ex, you’ll end up hurting yourself even more. Scientists say our fundamental nature is compassion, so go with nature.


  • Release those hot-button triggers in favor of finding helpful solutions. I’ve never criticized my ex or argued with him in front of our daughter. And I’ve never put her in the middle of making scheduling decisions.


  • Strive to be the better person and you’ll get a better co-parent. You may never be BFF’s with your ex, but if you take the compassionate road, you set your co-parenting up for greater success. So when he keeps the kids up late watching “Stranger Things,” forgets your kid’s backpack, or drops them off late, make the conscious choice to respond in a calm, considerate way. Later, you can dial up a friend to complain about it.


Whatever challenges come up, my ex and I figure it out instead of fighting about it. We choose considerate co-parenting because when he’s at his best and I’m at mine, our daughter benefits the most.


What do you struggle with in co-parenting? I’d love to hear from you.

Do you need more help getting over your breakup? Download your FREE “Ultimate Breakup Survival Guide” HERE.



Debra Rogers’ heartfelt advice has helped thousands of women (and men) to get over their ex, get past self-doubt, and create a life they truly love. She’s the author of the award-winning breakup book, “He Did You a Favor.” Debra’s a passionate story junkie (who’s coached writers for over a decade), dark chocolate devotee, and change-making cheerleader who’ll help you become the YOU you’ve always wanted to be.