The 3 Year Adjustment

The Separation Coach - Sarah Cole

Newly separated?

Want it over quickly?

Buckle up. It’s going to be a long ride!

Unfortunately, the process of separation or divorce just can’t be rushed.

If you have children, it is more of a transition to a different kind of relationship with your partner (ex partner) and even if you don’t have children, its unlikely that there will be a ‘clean break’ with property and maybe even pets to consider.

During my specialist training to become a divorce coach, I was introduced to the concept of The 3 Year Adjustment, by Dr Wendy Coughlin – an American psychotherapist.

The concept suggests that it can take 3 years to adjust to a separation, which I believe is a much healthier and realistic way of looking at it.

Lets break it down…

Year 1 is where everything is thrown into chaos

Perhaps the separation has been thrust upon you, or it’s the time that you have made the final decision to call it quits. Even if it is a mutual and respectful decision, this year will be the hardest as you deal with grieving the relationship, negotiating parental arrangements, learning to live on a reduced income all the while wondering how on earth you are going to get through as well as making big decisions that may affect the rest of your life.

Things seem pretty scary.

Year 2 – A period of adjustment

You and your former spouse have your separate homes, you have negotiated child care arrangements, some property settlement decisions may have been made and you are starting to adjust to your new normal.  You reflect on some of the decisions made during the first year and begin to consider what you would have done differently or maybe, you are surprised with how much happier you are. There are still bumps in the road – more so if you are now in a co-parenting scenario – but, life feels a little more in your control.

Year 3 – You are starting to feel like you again

After the chaos of year 1, the ironing out the bumps in year 2, you start to really get your confidence and clarity back. Perhaps you begin to reinvent yourself or embrace things you wanted to do but didn’t/couldn’t while in your previous relationship. The changes that have occurred may have made your life harder in some ways, but you can see the areas where you are starting to do well or even thrive. Most of all, you see that you got through some of the toughest times you have ever faced.

Its important to be kind to yourself during this time. Recognise that this is a marathon, not a sprint and that things will get easier with trial and error and of course, time.

Sarah xx