Relative Evolutions - Evolve, Don't Dissolve

Interview with Christina Vinters, J.D., Family Law Mediator

Pathways to Amicable Divorce

Pathways to Amicable Divorce

Earlier in the summer, I was delighted to learn about a new book about divorce. The book was called Pathways to Amicable Divorce, and it was written by Family Law Mediator, Christina Vinters. At the time, the book was being offered for free as part of a launch promotion, so I quickly clicked and added it to my digital library.

As you probably know, I’m highly passionate about productive, mindful, respectful (amicable) divorce processes. I’ve read a lot of books about divorce, and they can be a bit clinical (really boring), especially the how-to guides. But Pathways to Amicable Divorce was different. It was simple and succinct. Truly, an easy read.

Vinters begins by discussing the culture of divorce: traditionally, it’s an adversarial process that takes a long time and drains resources from families. She illustrates the cultural negativity, the “war” mentality and the jokes that serve to dehumanize the humans we once cherished. She also points to studies and statistics to show why adversarial divorces are detrimental to individuals and children. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As Vinters states, “You and your partner have the ability to shift your mindset from divorce as a combat at the cost of the family to divorce as a respectful re-structuring for the benefit of the family.” (Yes, yes, yes!!!  A benefit to the family. I love it!)

Deeper into the book, readers receive an overview of the process as well as lessons in cooperative alternatives. One thing I was delighted to see was the inclusion of “kitchen table negotiation” as a process for reaching an amicable agreement (Chapter 5). The number one key in having an amicable divorce is for exes to talk to each other, and encouraging them to connect one-on-one is priceless. After all, the relationship doesn’t end with a divorce decree. Coparents will have to communicate in some way for as long as they share children.

While I was hooked on the book from the beginning, the suggestion that STBXs speak to each other without a professional middleman impressed me to no end. Soon after I finished Pathways to Amicable Divorce, I asked Christina if she’d be willing to record an interview with me and she said yes. Check out our chat below to hear more about the book and Christina’s work as a mediator.

I’m grateful to Christina Vinters for sharing her wisdom with the masses. Her experience as an attorney, combined with her intentions as a human have come together in a easy-to-read, inspirational companion for healthy progress. And I was delighted to read, at the end of her book, that she’d made the choice to focus fully on productive processes instead of litigation. Countless families stand to benefit from her work.

Pathways to Amicable Divorce is available on Amazon. And you can learn more about Christina on her web site, VintersMediation.com.

Jul 26, 2016 - divorce, family, marriage, media    4 Comments

Author Interview with Lisa Thomson

Recently, I read The Great Escape:  A Girl’s Guide to Leaving a Marriage by Lisa Thomson. As you might have guessed by the title, The Great Escape provides a lot of hints and tips for women looking to start a new, unmarried, chapter of their lives. I found the book to be both relatable as well as informative.

Today, I’m excited to share an interview with Lisa Thomson. Let’s get to it…

Lisa, thanks for taking some time for an interview with Relative Evolutions. Your book, The Great Escape: A Girl’s Guide to Leaving a Marriage is the perfect blend of your own experience coupled with information about what to expect, vocabulary lessons and recommendations for relief. I think it’s a great companion piece for women navigating a separation. Before we dive in to the matter at hand, can you tell the readers of Relative Evolutions a little bit about yourself?

Lisa Thomson

Lisa Thomson

I was married for 18 years and was a stay at home mom after the birth of my daughter.  After my separation and trying to put my life back together, I returned to the University’s ‘Faculty of Extension’ and pursued a certificate in Residential Interiors. During that time I penned the self help guide, The Great Escape; A Girl’s Guide To Leaving A Marriage.  I live in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. I write for Divorced Moms and Huffington Post Divorce.  As well, I am currently editing my short story collection, The Icing On The Cake. The collection of stories explores relationships, love and loss. When I’m not writing I love to paint, go to yoga, enjoy wine and explore the beach with my Beau.

I’m also a fan of yoga and the beach! But let’s talk more about The Great Escape. At what point did you start writing the book? When you were in the trenches of your process, did you know you wanted to share your story?

Actually, it was in the middle of my divorce that I began writing ‘pieces’ and realized it could be a resource guide for women starting the process. I began taking excerpts from my journal as well and combining it with ‘tips’. I realized I wanted to share my story about 3 years into the process. I began with an outline and worked from there.

Prior to your divorce, you seemed to have the kind of lifestyle many people dream about. You had an abundance of luxury, comfort and convenience. What did you need that you weren’t receiving?

That’s a great question and the answer really speaks to the heart of the problem in my marriage. I was missing intimacy. I was missing full acceptance of who I am, the real me. I was missing love.

I think many of us can relate to that. I certainly experienced a lot of *feels* as I read the beginning of The Great Escape. As you moved forward, what was the hardest part of your divorce process?

The hardest part was co-parenting. I wasn’t prepared for the friction and games that were involved. I naively believed my ex and I could remain friends but what ensued was a kind of battle I hadn’t expected. That battle extended to our parenting time. It also brought out the worst in both of us. Secondly, I’d have to say the legal process of the divorce. It was protracted and complicated with some of the business issues that were involved.

What was the most rewarding thing that came from your divorce?

The most rewarding thing that came out of my divorce was my independence. It was my freedom to finally be myself and to live without constant scrutiny and criticism.

In the book, you talk about Parental Alienation, what’s the number one piece of advice you’d give a parent who’s been alienated from his/her children.

The Great Escape

The Great Escape: A Girl’s Guide To Leaving a Marriage, challenges the notion that women should stay in an unhappy marriage. The book takes the reader on a journey starting with taking stock of your marriage, to starting the process of divorce, to enduring the inevitable social changes.

My #1 piece of advice is to ‘never let go of your children’. It is very painful but the reality is that if you let go, then you risk a complete break. The only time I suggest letting go, is when you’re suffering so much that your health and happiness are jeopardized.

Your path through divorce was pretty rough. Can you share one or two little triumphs you experienced along the way? How did you find the motivation to keep going?

One of the triumphs was writing the book. In fact, it empowered me to get through some tough phases. My motivation came from the support of a few good friends and a good therapist. I also, eventually found the love and support of a good man (who I am still with today).

Has your experience changed your view of marriage?

Yes, indeed it has. It’s easy to ‘get married’ but very difficult to ‘get unmarried’. Even so, I think marriage is right for young people who want to start a family and are truly in love. I don’t feel it’s something I need to try again.

Because your ex worked for your family business, you experienced some unique conflicts as a result of the separation. What advice do you have for those who aren’t close to, or don’t have the full support of their family?

Find family where you are. Recognize the people in your life who are providing unconditional support and don’t ever take them for granted. It’s a rare human who is capable of that kind of love and support and they may not be blood related.

How’s your relationship with your ex and children now?

My relationship with my children is actually really healthy, strong and loving. We have overcome quite a bit of conflict together. The conflict hasn’t necessarily been between us but it has been around us—if that makes sense. We have grown through this together. We have an honest communication going but it’s not perfect. We are long distance and sometimes I fear I’m missing out on the daily grind with them. However, that said, we really make the best of our time together. They come visit and I go to them, plus we plan special trips together periodically. They are 21 and 23 now so have established their own lives. I’m certainly very proud of them.

I don’t have a relationship with my ex. If something comes up regarding the children we communicate through email.

When you began this journey, you were a full-time mother and wife. You’ve come a long way since then. How does it feel to let go a little and embrace yourself more fully?

It feels amazing. Honestly? That has been the best part of the divorce process, is embracing my authentic self. It’s a process though and not always an easy one. The difficulties and challenges are worth it though—the reward is living a more authentic life.

I couldn’t agree more about the rewards of living a more authentic life after divorce. I think that’s a benefit for all of us, whether children are involved or not. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Lisa!

 

The Great Escape:  A Girl’s Guide to Leaving a Marriage is available for purchase on Amazon. If you’d like to continue to follow Lisa as she learns, grows and evolves in her post-divorce life (I do!), her website is LisaThomsonLive.com. You can also check out the following social connection points:

Facebook:  The Great Escape:  A Girl’s Guide to Leaving a Marriage
Twitter: @lisalisathom
Tumbler: The great escape
Pinterst:  Lisa Thomson
YouTube:  Lisa Thomson

If you have a question or comment for Lisa, leave a comment 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

For a Child of Divorce, This Sucks

I say it often:  I love divorce. This stance comes mostly from my positive personal experience both as a child of divorced parents and an ex-wife. I’ve listened to plenty of conflicting opinions, and I’ve heard lots of horror stories. Still, I love divorce because I know it can be a solution for families in crisis.

It’s not often that I feel emotionally triggered around the topic. I frequently refer to my parents’ divorce and the benefits that came from it. I believe it was one of the best things to happen in my family. I think of myself as a well-adjusted adult who learned a lot from the experiences of my childhood. I never wished my parents would reconcile. I don’t feel damaged. I’m not devastated because my family doesn’t resemble some cookie-cutter image of what I’m supposed to believe a family is supposed to look like.

But, yesterday, I saw this:

IMG_8546

And I felt sad. It wasn’t my parents’ divorce, specifically, that precludes me from enjoying this idyllic fantasy. In fact, for several years of my adult life, the above scenario was my reality. I didn’t live at home anymore, but I still had a key. And I didn’t think twice about helping myself to a snack.

Then my mom moved away… and then she got married. She married a man who’d been part of her life, but not mine. They live in a small town I’d never heard of prior to their relationship. My mother’s house has never been my home. When I visit, I knock on the front door, because that’s what guests do.

It seems I hadn’t really thought about it until now. Before reading those words, I’d lived day after day, blissfully ignorant to any sense of loss. But… I guess divorce did, indirectly, leave a void in my life. I no longer have that same sense of home.

This bittersweet nostalgic longing isn’t going to change my opinion of divorce, of course. However, it might have made me a just a little bit softer.

 

 

Jul 12, 2016 - divorce    2 Comments

Yes, I Love Divorce. No, I’m Not Anti-Marriage.

I get some funny reactions when I tell people about my work. Most people who’ve been divorced say something like, “I could’ve used you two years ago.” They’re often understanding, supportive and encouraging.

And then there are the others… those who are offended or otherwise just plain uncomfortable. Most will stay quiet, while others feel the need to erect a wall. Sometimes they share their own views of marriage and divorce, often using religious references to justify their positions. Occasionally, people interpret my work as a direct threat to their marriage. Couples will grasp hands while one tells me in a firm voice exactly how long they’ve been married and how happy they are. As if I’m some kind of grim reaper.

Even among friends, there are jokes about my efforts to end marriages. I can laugh about it. I have to. There’s no denying the fact that I’ve chosen a somewhat odd career. But honestly, I’m not anti-marriage. Sometimes I think I should put it all on a T-shirt:

Hi, I’m a Divorce Coach.
No, I’m not out to destroy your marriage.
That’s up to you.

Untitled design-3Over the years, I’ve asked a lot of questions about marriage. I’ve criticized the way our culture approaches such an important commitment. I’ve suggested odd alternatives to our sacred traditions.

I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’ve come to realize that marriage, like divorce, can be as unique as the family it serves. There are “traditional” marriages, plural marriages, open marriages, same-sex marriages, child marriages, arranged marriages, common-law marriages… the list goes on. It’s hard to take a stance against something which shape shifts to serve so many.

And when you think about it, without marriage there would be no divorce. Furthermore, many who get divorced move on to find love and marry again.

I’m not anti-marriage. I’m anti-Bad Marriage (a good divorce is better than a bad marriage). And honestly, I can say the same about divorce (bad divorces are the worst). I wish more people felt the same way.

 

Jun 29, 2016 - divorce    No Comments

The Voicemail That Launched 1000 Feelings

Last week, I received an interesting voicemail. The caller told me her name and said she was looking at my ad. And then…

“…I’m a Bible believer, and I hope you know this, in America we have freedom of religion.”

I’m happy to report:  I was indeed aware of this fact.

She continued, “And we don’t believe that the Bible teaches that we should look at our feelings and motives, but at the knowledge of truth.”

She went on to tell me that I’m living in sin, and I’m helping people to sin against Jesus Christ and his word. And then finished her message by reminding me, “We are a different religion in America. We have freedom. And please don’t make us think we have to feel ashamed. We know better. We have the knowledge of truth. Our feelings don’t matter. We live by the truth. The Lord bless you in Jesus. Amen.”

I found her message to be quite stimulating. To begin, I’d like to call her back, assure her that I am an American and explain:  “Freedom of Religion does not mean everyone believes what you do.”

And yeah… of course she thinks I’m living in sin because I’m an advocate for divorce. I’ve heard that one before. However, this is the first time a stranger has called me to deliver such news.

The most fascinating aspect of her message was what she said about feelings. Feelings don’t matter? Christians aren’t supposed to pay attention to their feelings? I feel confused. What about love, and all the feelings that go along with living a kind, compassionate, giving, helpful, loving existence? I was under the impression that those things were important.

(Then again… I guess this is why there are tens of thousands of different denominations of Christianity)

Her comment caused me to recall how I felt during my marriage. The anger and resentment… the loneliness… the numbness and depression. During that time of my life, those feelings were my truth. They clouded ever corner of my reality, and there was no escaping them. They mattered. In some ways, they were a matter of life and death.

I know now that those emotions weren’t Me. I understand that I could’ve meditated my way out of them. Yet, I couldn’t have spent all of my time in meditation. My marriage wasn’t a healthy environment for either me or my husband. Our feelings were there to tell us that something was wrong. When the status of our partnership changed, our feelings toward each other improved. And, our lives overall improved.

That’s progress, right? I think so.

Looking back at my marriage, I’m grateful I hadn’t been influenced by anyone quite like the woman who called me last week. I’m also saddened for all those who feel as I did, yet think as she does.

 

 

 

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