On a sunny California beach, Clark and Valerie Tate assembled their friends and 10-year old son for a special ceremony – an “uncoupling” ceremony.
Because divorce can become an ugly and expensive process, the two decided to try a different route, choosing to “consciously uncouple.” This was Clark’s third marriage, and Valerie’s first. While the “spark” in their relationship went out years ago, the two have never once considered a formal divorce.
In the uncoupling ceremony, the two returned they wedding rings to each other, symbolizing the end of their 14-year-old marriage. “These rings do not symbolize who we are to each other anymore,” Clark said. “So we’re releasing them,” Valerie added.
While the two no longer consider each other as husband or wife, they have decided to continue living in the same house so they can continue to raise their son Jonah together.
Focusing on Children
Keeping the family unit intact is crucial for the “un-coupe.” They are determined to protect Jonah from their failed relationship. “Children feel like they’re the center of the universe. They don’t understand necessarily what’s happening, but they feel like it may be something they did wrong,” said psychiatrist Dr. Janet Taylor.
Financial Stress of Divorce
Divorce can be not only emotionally draining, but also financially draining. On average, couples pay $50,000 to resolve contested divorces. But uncoupling in the fashion that Clark and Valerie have might not be an option for everyone. “For couples who have an option relationship, both partners have to totally agree to it, or it won’t work, and that requires communication,” Taylor said. “In some cases, it may involve a third party, a counselor where you draw up rules. But if one person feels like the other one is pushing them into that situation, it won’t work.”
But for now, for the Tates, their situation is working out. The two are still legally married, and for now, divorce is not even on the horizon. “I think we’re through the tough stuff, which was questioning jealousy and insecurity and what happens and who are we, and what is this?” Clark asked. “The unknowns,” Valerie answered.
Source: ABC News, Couple’s ‘Uncoupling’ Ceremony Releases Them From Marriage, Without Getting Divorced, November 7 2014