Family

When Divorce isn’t Ugly

What is it with all the breakup bravado today?

Shannon and Chris Neuman, a Canadian couple, posted a happy, grinning photo of themselves outside the Calgary courthouse where they filed their divorce paperwork.

“Here’s Chris Neuman and I yesterday after filing for divorce!” Shannon’s upbeat post read.

“We are, and always will be, a family. We are parents first and foremost.”

With hashtags of #teamneuman and #divorceselfie, the photo has been shared more 35,000 times after being posted on Facebook.

Why are the Neumans so happy at the dissolution of their marriage? Because they are celebrating the good things they have done together while married, namely having two children.

“We respectfully, thoughtfully and honorably ended our marriage in a way that will allow us to go forward as parenting partners,” they shared in their post.

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Gwyneth Paltrow sparked the “exes, best pals and parenting partners” conversation when she “consciously uncoupled” with her then-husband Coldplay front man Chris Martin.

“We are, and always will be, a family. We are parents first and foremost,” the famous and uber-wealthy couple issued in a statement.

Many people were supportive, and many more were annoyed. The phrase “conscious uncoupling” fell in line with other seemingly out-of-touch edicts from the actress and entrepreneur, such as, “When I pass a flowering zucchini plant my heart skips a beat,” and “I’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin.”

What is with all this breakup bravado and downright happiness when it comes to divorce?

What is with all this breakup bravado and downright happiness when it comes to divorce? Is it relationship evolution or a form of shared delusion? One thing seems true: Sometimes staying together for the kids is not the answer.

In a 20-year-old study of parental conflict and children’s stress still referred to by psychologists today, anthropologists Mark Flinn and Barry England analyzed samples of the stress hormone cortisol, taken from children in a village on the east coast of the island of Dominica in the Caribbean.

Children who lived with parents who constantly argued and fought had higher average cortisol levels than children who lived in calmer, happier families. As a result, the children with angry parents became tired and ill more often, they didn’t play as much, and they slept poorly. Overall, those children never come to terms with the family stress.

The children with angry parents became tired and ill more often, they didn’t play as much, and they slept poorly.

So can divorcees be friends? And what happens to all that friendliness when mom or dad meets a new someone special right away?

Bill Ferguson, a former divorce attorney and relationship expert who shares friendly divorce information at divorceasfriends.com, said that looking under the layers of a relationship is very important.

“It takes two people to keep a relationship going and just one to end it,” he told LifeZette. “To move forward, the two people involved have to heal the hurt. There is the actual reality of who someone is, and then there is our reality when it comes to our partner — that person we perceive them to be. Work toward the actual reality of who that person is, and you will find the love for them again that allows you to move forward under the hurt that has piled up.”

How do you heal the hurt? It’s deceptively simple, Ferguson said.

“Allow yourself to feel it. Children are so good at expressing hurt, but we grow up and develop a shell, given to us by society,” he said. “Once you heal the hurt, miraculous things begin to happen — even in divorce.”

Said Canadian mom and soon-to-be ex-wife Shannon Neuman of her and Chris’ shared intentions moving forward: “They (the children) won’t have to struggle with their own wedding planning because we’ll be sitting on the same side of the aisle — THEIR side.”

Neuman told Global News that she and Chris had been separated for almost four years, and “this marriage was mourned, I promise you.”

Mourning, Ferguson said, is important.

“As a divorce attorney, I realized that when people healed the emotional wounds, the relationship thrived, even moving forward separately,” he said. “And, I had 15 percent of my clients not go through with their planned divorce after they were allowed to feel their hurt completely, and express it.”

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