A Coaching Power Tool created by Sheila Brennan
(Divorce Coach, UNITED STATES)
Truth is a deep kindness that teaches us to be content in our everyday life and share with the people the same happiness. ~Khalil Gibran
According to the TheFreeDictionary.com, the definition of CONTENT is:
- Desiring no more than what one has; satisfied;
- Ready to accept or acquiesce; willing;
- To make content or satisfied.
Content is something that few of us are able to achieve in our lives. As a society, we seem to always be looking for bigger, better, faster, newer and view the things that we have as not as good as the newest model. This is often true of marriage and spouses as well. We feel that we’d be better off with someone newer, younger, smarter, thinner, richer, and/or prettier. We lose sight of the good qualities of our spouse. We forget about the commitment, the good times and the love that we once felt. Since as a society, we look to bigger, brighter, flashier, thinner, it’s natural that we forget to acknowledge when we are content and happy especially regarding relationships and one of the most valued relationships, our marriage. Val Farmer, a clinical psychologist, wrote that one of the reasons a marriage fails is because the parties are disrespectful and judgmental of their marriage and spouse. Marriage needs acceptance, admiration, appreciation and emotional safety. A husband and wife need to be able to recognize when they are content and happy. This requires awareness and a deep sense of gratitude. We seem to be grateful for the things we lose. We take our good fortune for granted: relationships, health, career. That explains why people do not describe themselves as content. Content may imply complacency yet that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Content is synonymous with appreciation and gratitude.
Anger and hate against one we love steels our hearts, but contempt or pity leaves us silent and ashamed. Edgar Rice Burroughs
According to the TheFreeDictionary.com, the definition of CONTEMPT is:
- The feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless; scorn;
- The state of being despised or dishonoured; disgrace;
- Open disrespect or willful disobedience of the authority of a court of law or legislative body.
Contempt is similar to anger in that it brings out the worst in you. If you feel contempt towards someone or something, it would compare to the poison you drink with the intention of harming someone else. Contempt is all-consuming and its cousins are revenge, scorn, retaliation, hate, blame, fraud, etc. You limit your personal growth or development when you feel contempt. It’s very similar to invalidation in that nothing can be done correctly in your assessment. Contempt prevents you from being your best and from achieving the goals you’ve committed to. If the content is the “happy” word in marriage, then contempt is the “devil’s” word in divorce. This is because the parties need to find a place where they have accepted the fact that their marriage is irretrievable and the result of the breakdown is divorce. There are not always answers as to why and what happened. A husband and/or wife who is faced with divorce is struggling to find a logical explanation for the situation and transitions that’s been often thrust upon them. During the shift from married to divorced, the parties look for understanding. People faced with divorce navigate the seven stages of loss. These stages are:
- Shock and disbelief;
- Depression; and
- Acceptance and hope
Contempt, a client’s disempowering component, is usually carried with them from shock and disbelief and often through depression. Divorce is an individual process. The stages are not clear cut in that one stops one day and the next one begins with a short break in between. The journey from shock to acceptance can be compared to a river more than a climb up a mountain. You travel along and you’re not sure what you’ll find as the waters surge to the end. Contempt is often what carries the client through their daily activities. As the client moves through the painful and heartbreaking process of loss and grief in divorce, she can begin to identify areas of her life that include lightness; she can begin to see the benefit of making her own decisions; being in charge of her destiny; seeing the light at the end of the tunnel; learning to trust again – herself and others. The coach’s role during the client’s journey is pivotal. With the support and guidance of the coach, the client will be able to identify the contentious feelings and contempt she feels towards her spouse and the system. She will understand that these feelings are normal stages of grief/loss. She will be encouraged to envision her new life. She will see there is life after court and the final divorce. She will see the future as bright and something she can look forward to with promise. She will learn to trust again. She will learn to take responsibility for her role in the past and improve upon the future. She will arrive at a content state and jump out of the grief journey. Through the use of powerful questions and powerful listening, a coach is able to travel the journey with the client. Examples of powerful questions are:
- How do you feel about the situation today as compared to when we first began our relationship?
- In what areas have you noticed the most progress?
- What happens when you feel yourself sliding backwards in the journey?
- How much control do you have over these events/feelings?
- Have you identified things that make you smile?
- What does self-care look like? How is it different from when you were married?
- How do you deal with the strong negative feelings when as they take over?
- Do you embrace them and work through them? What does that look like?
- What does the end of your journey look like?
- Can you visualize your life 5 years from now?
- Is it better than it was before? In what ways?
The client wants to reach the end of the journey but can be overwhelmed with fear at the thought of not having a life partner or not caring for her children 100% of the time. The coach can use the skills of effective coaching to bring out the benefits of the new life. The coach can work with the client to create goals for the transformation or metamorphosis of the client. The period of grief can bring lightness and goodness – it’s the coach’s role to work with the client to create this new life.