Matthew Pruen - Part II

Divorce can be traumatic, the death of a dream once created during the high of falling in love is now painful and unbearable. This trauma is no different from a bereavement, and with it comes the perceived threat of survival.

Matthew Pruen - Part II
Matthew Pruen Relationship and Couple Counselling

When we have reached 'the pain is so unbearable that it would be better to leave' mindset, divorce feels like the only way out, the least worst option. 

Those who continue to live together exist in what is known as the 'invisible divorce'. The 'yes dear' couple fulfilling their roles until death do them part. Occasionally, but rarely, someone will realise it is better for their partner to end the marriage. 

Divorce can be traumatic, the death of a dream once created during the high of falling in love is now painful and unbearable. This trauma is no different from a bereavement, and with it comes the perceived threat of survival. Our animal instincts kick in, explaining why people behave the way they do in divorce. 

We reach for the tools available to us. 

More often than not, men will use money for power and women will deny access to the children. It is a trauma response that can be very easy to judge from the luxury of our own safety.

It doesn't matter what your relationship status is, the work you do to stay together is the same as the work you do to have a good parting. 

Children bear the brunt of living in conflict and divorce. When raised in an atmosphere of conflict they are in conflict within themselves. This internal conflict remains until addressed and healed. A child is part mother and part father, naturally loyal to both parents. In conflict, they become overtly loyal to one parent and covertly loyal to the other, whether they admit it or not. 

The greatest gift you can tell your troubled child which can bring immense peace is;

' I love your mother/father in you.' 

Getting Out Of Power Struggles: GOOPS

It can take no time to enter a power struggle and about 15-20 minutes to exit one. It's can be very easy to stay in patterns, to blame the other for your reaction and response. You have the power over your thoughts and responses.

It's time to get creative and do things differently. 


Humility is essential. Do you need to be right? What is your role in this? Can you recognise that you are hurting your significant other? Once you recognise your behaviour you need to be sorry and say it out loud. Be sincere or it will come across as strategic, making your situation worse. 

Matthew kindly shared his three-day course in under three hours. It's a lot of information to process, especially when you are in an emotionally charged place. It is far easier to understand the process when you aren't in immediate need of it, and I recommend you seek professional guidance. 

Here are examples to help you understand how to get out of a power struggle. 

When I am tired, stressed, or feeling low -I avoid you by hiding away in my laptop, or by coming home later. I know you find this distressing. 


When I am in my reactive pattern, I lose sight of what I love about you and focus on the things I don't like.


When I am in a power struggle, I focus on what I find challenging about you.

After you have apologised, say one thing that you love about your partner and say thank you.  

Love is 'I love who you are, I accept...'


You are going to need to ask for feedback. It may feel self-sacrificial, but this is a wise and self-interested exercise. Optimally, say something like, 'When you do X, I experience you as...' 

'You are an asshole' is not feedback.


No change will last long without action. The next step is for your partner to request something specific, measurable, and achievable. It needs to be time bound ie 2 weeks, and it needs to be something that would please them. You must confirm you understand what is being asked of you before saying Yes or No. When you cannot do what is requested, something else needs to be offered in return. 

It's a request, not a demand. 

For example:

Request: I would like you to take the children to school every morning for the next two weeks. 

Response: I understand that you want me to take the kids to school every morning for the next two weeks. I can't because of my commute times to work. Instead, I can offer Monday and Friday when I work from home and collect Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. 

Your partner will need to accept your offer. 

'If you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you've always got.'

Relationships are complex, including your relationship with yourself, your colleagues, and your family. Matthew holds 3-day Couple Workshops.  Day 1- Communicating, saying what needs to be said and heard. Day 2- Letting go of grievances. Day 3- Visioning a positive future.

From his years of experience working with couples, he has found that an hourly appointment doesn't allow couples the best outcome. His clients range from empty nesters, couples wanting to improve their marriage, or couples who have realised they need to part and have the insight to resolve their emotional baggage before divorcing. 

After our interview, I booked a 90-minute relationship coaching call with Matthew. I am single, so it involved learning more about myself in past relationships. Without going into detail, I learnt the story I tell myself and it was so profound that it changed how I see myself.

If you would like to share your story or you are a professional who wants to share some insights, please email me at