Amicable Separation

May 3, 2020

Joe and Melissa were in their 12th year of marriage when they requested counselling. They had been arguing and becoming distant with one another for a couple of years. They had four children aged three, five, six and eight.

When Joe and Melissa arrived in my office they sat apart and commenced the session with verbal attacks on one another. From the outset, they were hostile towards one and other.

When asked what they wanted from counselling they couldn’t agree.  Joe was keener to work on their relationship and try to remain together, but Melissa had given up and wanted to separate.

I requested to see them individually.  It became evident through those sessions that there were irreconcilable differences.

Both partners had emotionally exited from the relationship and had little energy to repair it.

It became clear that what they needed were strategies to separate in the least harmful way to all concerned.

The remainder of the sessions were about:

  • How to care for the children in the process of separating.
  • How to behave around the children even when feeling angry with one another.
  • Managing safe and equitable care of the children in a fair way to the children and themselves.
  • Learning to be collaborative with one another over all things to do with the children e.g. school trips, school events, sports, hobbies, holidays, who leaves what at each house.

Although Joe and Melissa committed to significant counselling support regarding their separation, they continued to show hostility towards one another, at times in front of the children.

Sadly the children suffered and this was reflected in their behaviour.

Some couples find that they are unable to let go of their own anger and bitterness towards one another and as such the children become involved in unfortunate and stressful ways. I was unable to effect positive change with this couple. Their disdain for one another was greater than their ability to see the impact it was having on their children.

Not all cases proceed the way counsellors hope. Sadly there are quite a number of children who face this kind of behaviour when their parents cannot separate their grievances for the sake of the children.

If you are separating and would like it to be amicable, please contact me on 027 488 9236 or email me on I am located in Birkenhead, North Shore, Auckland.

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