We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
— Joseph Campbell
Divorce is always incredibly painful. Pain triggers anger, even rage, and calls forth the most regressed behaviours from each of us.
Yet in the midst of that situation, that shock and defensiveness, we’re called on to make far-reaching decisions that will affect the rest of our lives.
As someone who has been through divorce myself, I know this is a time when coaching or counseling can offer great benefits to both parties.
Divorce counseling is not mediation.
Divorce counseling is a way of providing a safe environment for discussion. Here, a couple can be free to express themselves without the fear that their words are going to be used against them in a court of law.
Here, too, the poisons of guilt and recrimination can be diluted sufficiently for practical and even more sensitive issues to be aired.
Divorce counseling recognises that not all divorces are the same. They can include:
- childless marriages being terminated by young couples;
- long-term marriages in which one spouse has been a homemaker;
- divorces in which minor children are present.
While divorce may be inevitable, it is important to conduct this sometimes savage redirection of the relationship with as much honour and respect as possible.
In that way, both parties can conclude their arrangements without the self-hate and contempt that so often mars an otherwise valuable period of completed life together.
I’ve even known a couple sit together and complain about each others’ lawyers in the safe counseling office. That opportunity to vent has meant that they were able to conclude the legal aspects with the minimum of heat and expense.
The process also prepares the individuals for their forthcoming lives, shedding as much as possible of the hurt that might otherwise inhibit a return to relationship life.
Divorce for good reason
Divorce is almost never neat and clean. It seldom ends the conflicts that preceded the divorce, especially if minor children are involved.
For that reason, I start divorce counseling by assuming that marriages are more salvageable than one or both spouses believe.
However, the truth is that there can be good reasons for divorce. These range from behaviours that can be characterised as abuse to many others that have nothing to do with culpable ill-treatment of one by the other.
- people get together for the wrong reasons;
- they grow in different ways;
- they feel unable to follow where the other is compelled to travel; and so on.
Essentially, they reach a point where they realise they are causing each other more pain by staying together than they would by separating.
Divorce counseling under these circumstances can provide these benefits:
- It enables each partner to focus on their new life even while they are dismantling the old;
- It can reinforce a practical emphasis by helping to manage transient feelings of abandonment and rejection;
- It can provide an opportunity for an implicit or explicit statement of gratitude and appreciation for the other’s good companionship.
When divorce comes, the one-time lover and best friend can quickly become the enemy. Yet there are still practical details to be jointly sorted through and support needed to maintain the emotional strength to be properly self-protective.
As a support through this period, divorce counseling can improve every aspect of the divorce and post-divorce period.
I know from my own experience that it can play a major role in helping us move quickly on to “the life that is waiting for us”.
If you would like to explore the possibility of divorce counseling for yourself, I would be happy to meet with you either individually or as a couple. Just complete the form below to set up a free interview.