The term ‘conscious uncoupling’ has well and truly entered the mainstream vernacular in recent years. And while many use it in jest, scoff at the silly semantics, or simply long for a good ol’ fashioned divorce of strain and stress, what the idea actually symbolises may elude us.

But push all the assumptions aside of a marriage gently unravelling over bongos and green tea, and you’ll find a notion rooted in a lot of sense; that a divorce or break up needn’t be a fraught and messy affair, rather one of respect and dignity. A noble aim, we think. With this in mind, here are 5 IDEAL steps to conscious uncoupling.

SHED STIGMA

One of the reasons a divorce can turn nasty, fast, is that both parties feel a sense of shame. This comes from society’s judgment that a ‘break up’ equates to a failure. If you look at the terminology involved, of ‘failed’ marriage and ‘broken’ home, it’s no wonder that warring factions will try to attribute the blame of the break up to their partner in an attempt to alleviate this sense of stigma. But things not working out doesn’t mean you’ve made a mess of your life.

Channel elements of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which concern avoiding the self-fulfilling prophecy of emotionally loaded language and negative thought patterns, and shed the stigma of describing your divorce as a loss, a break or a failure.

CHANNEL NEGATIVE ENERGY

A divorce can sometimes lead to a lot of negative energy and emotion, that’s undeniable. Rather than repress it, it’s important for you to confront this energy and channel it into something productive and beneficial.

Of course, if kids are involved, it’s imperative that your efforts to make a dignified exit from marriage places their happiness first and foremost. While you may not be feeling great about all of the upcoming change and disruption of routine, you can focus your drive for a peaceful uncoupling on your kids’ wellbeing. If you don’t have children, bring that focus on to your career or exercise regime. Try and reconnect with who you are as an individual and refocus. Simply put, don’t let negative feelings fester. Reframe them.

FIND POSITIVES IN THE PROCESS

If you’re handling much of your uncoupling – your diy divorce if you will – by yourself, the fine print can be daunting. There are so many aspects to untangle, boundaries to be redrawn, tangible elements to reassign, that things can get overwhelming. But try to find positives in each part of the process.

Perhaps you have a pet who needs to spend time with both of you; so use your shared affection for the animal to find common ground. Maybe you own a car together? Embrace the opportunity to use a bicycle more often, and when it’s your turn to use the vehicle, take a road trip somewhere meaningful. Each step of uncoupling can be loaded with sentimentality and sadness or be the opportunity to enact positive change in your life. It’s up to you which you choose.

TAKE CONTROL OF THE NARRATIVE

The early stages of a divorce can feel like your world is falling apart around you.There’s a temptation to attribute blame and throw shade at every possible opportunity. But a consciously peaceful, managed divorce shouldn’t succumb to this. Instead, take control of your uncoupling’s narrative. Describe it to friends as civil and gracious, and the likelihood for gossip to the contrary is reduced. Manage the way others perceive the divorce. Don’t invite criticism of your former partner; speak well of them, highlight their positive attributes, and others will echo this dignified sentiment.

DON’T BREAK THE BOND

After many years spent together, of herculean effort put into your shared story, a break up shouldn’t mean the breaking of a bond. There are just too many meaningful memories to savour, not sour. Keep things cordial during the process, and the likelihood of a lifelong friendship, is greatly enhanced.