How to Breakup Amicably...

How to Breakup Amicably...If you, like me, have been divorced you might’ve felt little fingers of guilt tickling your conscience on seeing that Lenny Henry and Dawn French have maintained a friendship throughout their divorce. Your heart undoubtedly ached as you wondered, "How could they look so happy in each other's company?" knowing that was not quite your experience of divorce.

Despite my very best efforts to keep things amicable, my first husband resisted the divorce and made things difficult. I married at a young age and it was after eight years of marriage I realised there was no hope for our relationship, having tried marriage guidance and every other possible method to save it. By that time the only happiness to come out of these difficult years was our two wonderful children.

Whereas I was, thankfully aware of, and desperately wished to keep things calm, that’s not always the case. A client, Allison (*), 42, came to realise she was as much responsible for her acrimonious divorce as her ex-husband, and sought closure in our sessions. A bright and attractive GP, she'd been devastated by her husband's infidelity. Allison found it impossible to forgive, eventually seeking divorce.

Throughout the divorce her rage coloured everything. Only with that lovely cut-crystal clarity that hindsight offers, did she realize how traumatised her children were by both their parents’ behaviour. With time, love and family counselling they’ve all begun to heal.

It may seem astonishing that some couples find a way through the challenging and usually heartbreaking divorce process. But thankfully they do. A great friend, Jessica (*), 49, and her husband Alistair(*), 51, managed to agree their divorce terms amicably with their children's needs firmly in mind.

This process undoubtedly helped by the fact they'd grown apart, rather than powerful issues like infidelity or jealousy being at the heart of their breakup. I'm mindful that the reasons underlying divorce profoundly affect its course. Still it was a very difficult road to travel where they questioned whether they were making the right decision. Yet during all their soul-searching they managed to put their children first.

I'd make an educated guess that Dawn and Lenny didn't become a 'happily divorcing couple' overnight. It’s undoubtedly been a long road as no one divorces lightly, particularly after 25 years. But through strength and insight they’ve managed their differences and found a hard-earned equilibrium, clearly with the welfare of their beloved daughter Billie firmly at the top of their priorities.
We can all learn from such stories and here are helpful points to consider:

ü Always keep in mind your children are ‘emotional sponges’. They’ll absorb any acrimony between you.

ü Do you let them know what’s happening particularly with practical matters like one parent (usually the father) moving out. Emphasise the good that can come from new arrangements like having ‘special time’ with each parent.

ü Give them age-appropriate information. You know them best and can judge what they can cope with knowing. Never give details of personal difficulties between you two. Instead keep it general that "mummy and daddy don't get along anymore." Impress upon them that their well-being’s most important to you both.

ü Resist any urge to criticise your ex-partner in front of your children. This is particularly hurtful to them.

ü Definitely seek out mediation services like National Family Mediation (01392-271-610). These can offer a safe place to negotiate your differences.

ü During and after the breakup agree contact with each other: the form it takes - by phone and/or in person - and how often it occurs. Agreeing such ground rules gives clarity when you both feel upset.

ü Be clear when one of you oversteps the mark. Don't let your boundaries slip in the volatile post-breakup months as they’ll be more difficult to reinstate.

ü Treat your partner’s feelings considerately without giving false hope of a possible reunion. This is a delicate balancing act with an ex-partner who didn't want the breakup.

ü Do lean on friends/family for support as you recover from the breakup. Hiding your heartbreak can only make it worse.

ü Face each day as it comes - some days you'll be upbeat, thinking you're over the worst, only to be hit by a bad day. Don't let it shake your confidence!

ü Focus on the ‘new life’ that’s yours to have - you can do things your Ex didn't want to, and there’s no longer friction/upset in your life.

ü When ready, enjoy some dating but look for fun and friendship rather than plunging into a rebound relationship. Research shows 90% of these come unstuck.

ü Finally, with the best will in the world if you’re at odds with a very angry partner it may be hard to have anything but an acrimonious divorce. The best you can do is keep trying to do the best you can do!

*Personal details changed

For more advice visit

A similar article was published in the Express newspaper


Did you find this article interesting?

Enter your details below to join the monthly mailing list.


Does your partner really know you? Check this out! How to get over that first awkward relationship bump... Going through a break up? Tips for an online clean up... Getting Together Again? Affair-Proof Your Relationship The Ultimate Christmas Relationship Survival Guide... Understanding and Overcoming Your Pre-Wedding Jitters and On-the-day Nerves... Getting Together Again... Excuses at the Ready ... How to Re-light Your Fire - And Make the Second Time around a Success! Two People, But One-sided... Some thoughts on people with love Plan-Bs Passion Fatigue... How to Walk Away from an Unhappy Relationship... Subconscious Sabotage... Whatever Makes You Happy... Money does matter... Body Image Nightmare... Understanding and Overcoming Your Pre-Wedding Jitters and On-the-day Nerves – Age-gap anxiety... Friends Connected at the Hip & Dating... Marriage SOS... Dating Again after a Breakup... Laughed straight between the sheets.... Too Good to be True... Beware the Mention of the Exes... Murder on the Dance Floor.... Lusting after Another Love... The Rise of the Plan B Pact... How Romance Can Be like Extracting Teeth... Credit Crunch Couples... Christmas time advice for struggling couples... Third-Party Interference... Opposites That Don't Attract... The Female Self-Destruct Button The Convenience of Compartments... Unlikely Apologies... Masculine Confidences The Chill Look of Contempt... He/She Isn't the Person That I Settled Down With.... Dating at a Distance... The Imperfect Perfectionists... Why He Doesn't Ring When He Says He Will... The Curse Of The Competitive Couples... It Seemed So Right, Now It’s So Wrong.... I married my mother... Never Under-estimate a GSOH... Don't Get Too Comfortable... Why Not Indulge Him? Bickering Versus A Good Old Barney.... Pre-Wedding Jitters? Join the Crowd... Do They Really Mean It? Never Underestimate The Power Of Affection And Touch ... The Facts About Flirtatious Behaviour... He Has A Nose Like Groucho Marx What Do We Lose When We Gain A New Lover? When your partner reflects on you... How to Get Things Started When You Meet Someone New Advice for struggling couples:... A Guide to Having A Happy Engagement ... Use the days between Xmas and New Year to recharge your relationship How to Get Back into the Dating Game Whose Chat-up Line Is It Anyway? 10 Steps to Overcome the Green Eyed Monster How Love Unrequited Links so Many of Our Hearts How to Breakup Amicably... Beware of the Love Pirates...Here is a warning about the lads who will capture your heart Love is in the air - seven signs that say he's attracted to you! The Best Dating Tips Ever... Whirlwind Weddings – Too Much, Too Soon! Adultery and betrayal, here are some things you might want to consider Does Your Relationship Need Resuscitation? Welcome to the crowd... Has Your Man Disappeared into His Communication ‘Cave’? When the Internet Comes between You Kissing tips that work! Bridge That Glaring Age Gap Try these love challenges (3) The Ultimate Couple's Communication Guide QUIZ: What's Your Love Profile? Try these love challenges (1) Understanding Men A Few Points About Some Male Personality Types - Try these love challenges (2) Become An Action Woman To Find Love Single Women - Personal Growth Try these love challenges (4) "Couple time" at the weekend is crucial! When you "down date" The key to looking interested not desperate when dating! Top speed dating tips! Couples - put your relationship through an MOT! Some top dating tips! More thoughts on first dates! First dates - some dos and don'ts! Beware - the problems with Internet dating! Dating "firsts" Finding love and fun on holiday! When You and Mr Right Want Different Things Relationship damage-limitation: quick fix communication tips - The three tell tale signs you aren't quite over your ex Some points about men who might give you "mad cow disease" A Few Thoughts on Successful Relationships Five Top Tips for Long Distance Relationships The Stages of Relationships A few top communication tips! Dating after a break-up Keeping positive when you want to start dating again! Notes on when to talk about BABIES - When He Pays Too Much Attention to TV, Computer Games or gadgets! Making Compromises or Being under Someone's Thumb? Some Thoughts on Adolescent Relationship Worries A Few Thoughts on Broken Hearts Are You Staying with Him or Her Because of Your Lifestyle? Some Questions And Things Men Wonder/Worry About From platonic relationship, to one night stand, to affair Do You Recognise Yourself in These Romantic Profiles? My Thoughts on Pre-Marital Counselling Dating tips for MEN - Surefire Ways and Where to Meet Women Dating tips for WOMEN - Love at First Sight Dating tips for WOMEN - The Wise Woman's Guide to The Art of Flirting Dating tips for WOMEN - What to Do When Things Go Wrong Dating tips for WOMEN - Capturing His Attention Dating tips for MEN - Don't Be a Romantic Loser Dating tips for MEN - Your First Date, First Phone Call and First Kiss An Affair Doesn't Necessarily Spell The End Nine Things You Should Never Say To Your New Love! Get Some Va Va Va-voom for Valentines! What Happened To The Innocence Of Valentine's? QUIZ: What Every Woman Who Wants To Marry Should Know! Christmas-proof Your Relationship For The Fraught Holiday Season! Why Mismatched Couples Should Beware! You Can Get Out Of An Abusive Or Violent Relationship! Just How Manly A Man Do You Want? Understanding The McCartney's War Of Words When They Divorced Toy Boys - The Latest Celebrity Girls’ Fashion Accessory What's the real meaning behind his Valentine's gift to you? Guys - some top tips for buying her a fabulous present! Stop Worrying About Your Wedding! Beat those wedding-day nerves! Dating tips for MEN - The Secrets Of Her Body Language Are You Too Needy In Relationships? A Warning Call To The Lonely And Single Generation! The Secrets of Seduction Prevent an Affair! The Ten-Minute Window in Relationships Has Your Relationship Suffered Over Summer? Eight Things You Should Never Say To Your Partner The Nine Signs of a Non-committer The Unique And Quirky Guide To Finding Love In The New Year! Why Do You Have Repeated Relationship Failures? Thoughts on Why Infidelity Is on the Rise Four Fabulous Steps To Improve Your Relationship! MEN: You behaved badly - what to do! Suspect He's Cheating? Seven Secrets of Successful Long-Distance Relationships Find Love For Valentine's Day! QUIZ: Is It Love or Is It Lust? How To Decipher Male- Versus Female-Speak QUIZ: Are You A Man's Woman Or A Woman's Woman? How Marriage Changes Through The Decades Relationship Guaranteed: 10 Little Tricks To Stay Together Marriage SOS – Seven steps to save your relationship! QUIZ: Are You Marrying For The Right Reasons? The Great Matchmaker Guide Prevent A Mid-Life Crisis In Your Marriage The Millisecond Marriages – Too Much, Too Soon! Money, Men And You Seven Secrets of Successful Long-Distance Relationships QUIZ: How Well Do You Know Your Man? QUIZ: How Likely Are You To Have An Affair? QUIZ: How Insecure Is Your Love? Could He Be A Natural-Born Cheat? Top Relationship Tips For Preventing Christmas Stress Some crucial tips to avoid money related arguments! The New Dating Dilemmas - And How To Cope With Them The Deal Breakers That Threaten Your Relationship QUIZ: Don't Ditch Your Relationship Too Soon! Warning - Divorce Is Dangerous To Your Health! The Fabulous Flirt Guide QUIZ: Great EX-pectations - Is Your Ex Jeopardising Your Relationship? QUIZ: Harness Those Wedding Day Doubts And Nerves QUIZ: Are You Still Haunted By The Ghost Of Your Ex? Beware - Your Broken Heart Should Come With A Health Warning! Heal Your Xmas Holiday Break-up! A QUICKIE FOR YOU: My top five tips for a long relationship Separated But Still Under The Same Roof! QUIZ: Are You Bored To Tears With Your Relationship? Couples: Be careful what you bicker about QUIZ: The Great Guide To Having A Second Go! Seven Ways to His Heart You Probably Haven't Thought Of! The Seven Deadly Signs Your Relationship Is In Trouble Six Signs Your First Date Could Signal Love! Find Love In A Few Weeks!