If you’re in the throes of a divorce, the idea of working with your ex may seem outrageous.
But what if the career you’ve built, the brand you launched or the market you’ve cornered has all been side-by-side with the person you’re divorcing? Do you have to choose?
According to the US census, married couples in America jointly own nearly 400,000 companies, employing almost 4 million workers. When those marriages break up, the effects ripple through the lives of all the people connected to the business. Thought about it in those terms, something intensely personal—divorce—suddenly isn’t.
Making Divorce Work for Work
Some couples have made the decision to figure out how to keep their professional partnerships intact even after ending the marriage. A recent New York Times article featured divorced couples who’ve successfully worked together as co-owners of companies from a successful law firm to a $45 million organic snack company. In each case, both sides really wanted to continue working together. They each had a lot at stake. They’d each sunk a lot of time into their careers and didn’t want it to go to waste.
A recent Guardian article spotlighted creatives divorcing after 12 years of marriage. All of them revealed that it was hard at first. It was impossible for the personal resentment not to leak into the professional environment. But they pushed through. And now their professional relationship is better than ever. The key, it seems, is how well they know each other. It’s what makes them better professionals, the couple says, “it helps as you understand that person inside out, whereas with most colleagues you only tend to see the professional veneer.”
Both articles highlighted getting outside help. The key is to acknowledge that you’re tackling something difficult—a degree of difficulty harder than a regular divorce, which is hard enough! Openness, communication and finding support are key to this kind of peace post-divorce.
Some couples tackle a different kind of divorce called “a parenting marriage”. This is “a purpose-driven model and the focus is on raising happy, healthy children”. It’s similar to what my recent guests Michael Schiesser and Neelama Eyres have adopted—though they have actually divorced. They are the co-authors of Divorced with Love, and co-founders of Inner Journey Institute. After they divorced, they went down a path of anger and acrimony until they decided to try another route, in part, for the sake of their special needs son.
But parenting marriages require a lot of emotional work. And they may not be the right solution for everyone, especially if it’s important to actually go through the divorce for legal or emotional reasons.
What’s important to remember is that every situation is different. Some couples split and never see each other again. Some see each other every day and celebrate holidays together. And there are a million variations along that spectrum. The key is to find out what works best for you.
If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.