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California: Broken Valentine
(provided by Dana Schutz, MA, LMFT and Irving Zaroff, JD, LMFT )

How can you mend a broken heart?

How can you stop the rain from falling down?

How can you stop the sun from shining?

What makes the world go round? - BeeGees

In movie portrayals of the organized crime syndicates, the hitmen intend to soften their violent acts with the phrase, "It's business, not personal." It's hard to imagine the victim consoling themselves with such information. Yet the phrase does point out that what a person does and how they feel about it can be at odds with each other. When a marriage ends it is definitely personal. The divorce, however, is definitely business. How can these be reconciled? Couples are generally put in the position of having to tend to dramatic feelings of loss, anger, betrayal, and fear. At the same time they must deal with the business of divorce - children, property and finances. The temptation to act from feelings is usually strong, but the results are usually poor - in some cases tragic - over the long run.

To effect a productive divorce it is important to keep your eye on the business aspects and make separate space for tending to feelings. A distance from feelings during negotiations will usually produce a more practical, thoughtful and successful transition from married life. The idea is not to bury your feelings, but find places for expression that won't compromise the "business" decisions you MUST make.

Support during this process is critical. Friends, family, spiritual guidance and counseling are very useful systems to address feelings. Facilitated negotiation with a third party, such as mediation, can help in separating the "personal" from the "business." Part of the process is to allow space for feelings while containing the emotional aspects to avoid making bad business decisions. Third parties can deflect, soften, interpret and reframe hurtful language to help maintain contact, participation and commitment to the divorce issues. Focus must always be returned to the business decisions. Resolving these issues look for the best in each person to find the best for the family community. Then it's time for the heart. Arriving at a workable divorce agreement goes a long way towards mending that broken heart. As the song says, "Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again."

Information provided by:
Dana Schutz, MA, LMFT and Irving Zaroff, JD, LMFT

Recommended Resources:
California Divorce Source
California Divorce Laws
California Community Forum
California Divorce Resources

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