“Rewritten” LOVE letters by Michelle Tetreault (2/14/16)

This Valentine’s Day let’s “rewrite” the letters of LOVE. Valentine’s Day is a reminder of our romantic love connections, a time to reaffirm our affections, and a day to give to our loved ones by writing love letters, purchasing cards, flowers or candy.

For those of us who have chosen to work in the field of collaborative law, it is a time to pause and be mindful of the painful emotional triggers that songs, commercials and merchandise can evoke in our clients on Valentine’s Day or any other romantic holiday. We as professionals can re-examine our collaborative roles this Valentine’s Day and “rewrite” the letters of LOVE in order to effectively guide our clients as they work through the collaborative divorce process. It is beneficial for us to “rewrite” the letters of LOVE with a language that offers our clients hope and provides them with a safe space for our collaborative work to evolve.

“L”- Loss, Learn, Let go/Leave

Our clients are coping with loss, learning new ways to define their relationships and beginning to understand their emotional responses to the reality of divorce.  We can work together by encouraging our clients to “let go”, take emotional risks, and leave what was once a safe and familiar place for them.

“O”- Open, Opportunities, Options

Our clients will begin the process of learning to hear new suggestions and solutions as we support them in our role of creating a structure/framework/roadmap to safely guide them through their collaborative work. We will assist our clients by sharing options, creating new opportunities for change and providing them with a realistic collaborative framework.

“V”- Vows, Values, Vision

We can role model new behaviors and write new vows (promises & agreements) as our clients shift their values and the team collaboratively works towards a shared vision.

“E”- Empower, Encourage, Evolve

We will empower our clients to make effective decisions and demonstrate through example that all members of the collaborative team are active participants in creating solutions. We will encourage the team to make contributions for change throughout the process. We will witness our clients as they evolve. This evolution will be memorialized in a collaboratively written document. This “rewritten” letter of LOVE will reaffirm their collaborative agreements and symbolize their hard work, renewed commitments, time and investments in our collaborative process.

We will evolve both personally and professionally with each of our collaborative experiences due to our deeper understanding of our collaborative roles and our ability to continue to “rewrite” the letters of LOVE.


Michelle M Tetreault is a clinical social worker and a collaborative mental health coach in private practice in Exeter, NH. This is a condensed version of her presentation that was given to the Seacoast Collaborative Law Practice Group in which she is a member.

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