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Couples Therapy to Negotiate the End of Your Relationship? Absolutely!

Dr. Nikki Martinez, Lead Contributor
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While most people consider couples therapy a tool to work on issues in the relationship (hopefully to fix them and move forward), that’s not its only purpose.

While it may seem contrary to many, it’s also an excellent way to have an unbiased third party to help you safely and calmly negotiate the details of the end of your relationship.

Relationships are hard – and the end of them often feels harder.

There are a few reasons:

  • Emotions are high
  • people are hurting
  • they might not be thinking of needs over wants

They may want the other person to hurt like they are.

Or, they simply are so weighed down that they cannot think clearly about why they need to leave the relationship.

How Couples Therapy Help In Ending Relationships Rightly

This is where couples therapy comes in.

Therapists are unbiased third parties who can calmly and in a mutually supportive manner help guide couples through the next steps.

They can clear the way of personal attacks and high emotions and help each person hear what the other is trying to say.

They can also step back to hear what each person genuinely says they need, helping to name and identify those things for them.

Sometimes, we are so overwhelmed we cannot clearly articulate our needs.

But a couple’s therapist can summarize your thoughts and feelings so you can clearly state what is important to you.

Once communication from each person is clarified, the couple’s therapist can better understand the needs that each person feels they must walk away with.

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Thus they can open a supportive dialogue about this person’s ability and willingness to meet those needs.

There may be things one person thinks they need but, through discussion, realizes they do not.

Or the other partner may not want to concede to a certain issue or item.

But they can agree once they can hear the other person’s reason for needing it.

Issues When Ending a Relationship

Some major issues need to be resolved when a relationship ends.

Some things are easier than others, and the difficult ones can be less traumatic with couples therapy.

These can include:

If you own a home or both of your names are on a lease, deciding who gets to stay or who will move may not be easy.

A rule of thumb is typical.

The person who has ended the relationship is the one who moves.

However, if the break is mutual, you must decide who makes the most sense to continue living there.

Who can afford to cover the costs?

Which of the partners lives closer to work?

Who will have primary custody and needs the home to not disrupt the children’s lives?

With this decision, we also enter the area of what is fair and equitable custody.

The days of dads on weekends and every other Wednesday are long gone.

50/50 shared custody is far more common.

Helping each person be honest about their needs and abilities helps to have a productive conversation about what works best for everyone, especially in the children’s best interest.

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Two other tricky issues that could benefit from couples therapy are the division of finances and custody of the family pet(s).

Finances should be fair and make the most sense for those who need to pay for support and cover expenses.

No one wants to be in a bad position.

However, maybe each person can only walk away supporting their half of things.

This is more common with costs of living.

However, children’s involvement means additional areas to consider regarding support and finances.

Another emotional issue is who will get custody of any family pets.

You each love them to death and cannot imagine life without them.

Is this another case of shared custody?

Or does it make more sense for one of you to have them?

Thinking about trying couples therapy?

As you can see, there are many issues to cover when a relationship ends.

However, making these decisions can be extremely difficult without an unbiased third party to help foster a productive and fair conversation between each person.

Ending a relationship is never easy.

Deciding on the many issues discussed above can feel impossible when trying to handle them alone.

Consider the usefulness and support couples therapy can offer each of you.

It can help each of you work your way through the process as collaboratively as possible.

This article was originally posted here.

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  1. Ethan Hansen

    August 9, 2019 at 12:30 PM

    It’s good to know that couples therapy can be used to create a good environment for separation and will help you build a friendship as you split. A close friend of mine recently caught his wife cheating and he would be heartbroken to completely distance himself from his best friend. I’ll be sure to pass this information on to him so he can know that there’s still a way he can have her in his life!

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