The one idea I think we can all agree on during these unprecedented times is that there’s a lot we all take for granted. Our daily routines and the predictability of our lives is so foundational, and to have them ripped away without notice is truly earth-shaking. Children have been detached from their friends, teachers, activities, sports – all of what grounds them and give them purpose. Sadly, significant milestones of life that up until now, has never been affected by what is happening in the world around us, have all been canceled. Proms, graduations, weddings, and even funerals are not allowed.
Unfortunately, my own family has dealt first hand with not being able to celebrate the loss of a loved one. Tragically I lost my older brother at the beginning of the lockdown here in California. My heart still aches for the closure that comes with services meant to celebrate the lives of those who pass on. Grief is exasperated by the state of our community, state, country, and world. Can there possibly be a silver lining to pull from ANY of this? Many will surely argue NOPE! NO WAY! NOT POSSIBLE! But I encourage you to look around. You will find beauty. You will find connection. You will find love. If I can pull myself through this while contemporaneously grieving the loss my big brother, whom I loved more than words, can accurately represent, I know you can too!
We can all agree there are many places to look and easily see good coming from this situation; the shift in our perception of who are the real heroes in our communities, neighbors helping each other, Mother Earth getting a well-deserved (and past due) break. One thing I didn’t anticipate that has started to surface over and over, are those couples I work with who were headed towards divorce and have somehow found a new sense of connection while being sheltered in place together. Perhaps it is because they are forced to slow down, and in doing so, there has been time to really “see” each other again. So often in our hectic lives, our routines are so ingrained in our lives that while we may see our partners/spouses daily, we do not really SEE them. We see the image of who we think they are… often based on who they WERE years before, when you were first dating or first married.
So often, WAY TOO often, our couples that come in asking for our assistance with their divorce say they have grown apart. That their decision to separate after being married for years (I believe 60 years was the longest marriage we have helped to dissolve), was not due to a significant event or betrayal, but simply, they didn’t know each other anymore. HEARTBREAKING I know! Even more so because every single one of you reading this, who are in a long-term relationship, are likely on the same path.
Here is where I can see a glimmer… a sparkle… a possibility created by the quarantine we are all experiencing right now. The quarantine has established a moment (well, lots of moments) that you can stop and look at your partner and see him or her for who they are TODAY. What has changed in them since you first married? Has a lack of time forced you to stop communicating with each other? Are you resentful over events that have taken place over the years prior? Do you know if they are resentful at anything you have done, or continually do? Do you still like him/her as a person – as a friend? If not, why not? What changed? Has your partner shown up for you in ways you forgot he or she could because it has been so long since there has been an opportunity for them to show you their superpower – whatever that might be? If you have found yourself looking at your partner with newfound respect and love, and you want to see if this reset can be a launchpad to kick start your relationship and breath life back into it, consider reaching out to us to help guide you and your spouse back to each other. To see what I am talking about, continue reading…
Many people in our community are not aware that we provide Marital Mediation Services and only learn about them when they come in seeking a divorce, and their mediator can see the couple is not ready to divorce. Our mediators are the first to gather more information if this appears to be the case. We often say, our most successful divorce is one that doesn’t end up happening. Often, our fact gathering leads us to understand the couple is still very much in love, but they are at a loss at what other options they have when traditional therapy has failed them. Then we discuss how Marital Mediation works to determine if it is the right fit for the particular couple.
Marital Mediation is not new but has not been around as long as other forms of mediation. At West Coast Family Mediation Center, we see this as a field with an enormous amount of potential, and we are continually researching the best ways to utilize the techniques used in divorce mediation to provide an action-based plan to save your marriage. Marital mediation is different than traditional talk therapy, in that the process is future-focused and various activities are implemented to explore the possibility of saving your marriage, rather than ending it. Whatever happened in the past that brought you to our table is far less relevant than what you are willing to do to leave our table as a married couple.
After providing these services for the last several years, we found that while the initial mediation often saved the marriage, it was sometimes a short-lived save. In response to that realization, we have put together a long-term coaching program for couples who are committed to preserving their distressed relationship or safeguarding themselves from falling into a distressed marriage/relationship. Right now, some relationships are finding new hope while sequestered together. In contrast, many relationships that were believed to be “healthy” before the quarantine are being pushed to the edge due to the overwhelming stress of what the future holds. If you find yourself in either of these categories, and you are interested in learning more about the process we offer and how we can help you, please reach out to us.
*We are offering reduced rate packages for the month of April 2020 to assist as many couples as we can while still being mindful that these are uncertain economic times.
by: Jennifer Segura