A divorce happens when one or both people in a marriage feel that the marriage is no longer beneficial, supportive or loving. It can be traumatic and sudden, like when someone is found to be having an affair, or it can seem like a natural choice after years of quiet dissatisfaction. The people involved may find it devastating or it can be a huge relief. Some people may feel guilty for choosing to divorce while others may be resentful for the hurt they feel. Either way, choosing to get divorced is complicated or there is no right way to feel about it.
Often one person initiates the divorce while the other may be surprised or may not wish to separate. The one who initiated the divorce will often have spent a long time thinking about divorce, preparing themselves for it emotionally by withdrawing from the marriage and making a life for themselves separate of their partner. These people may seem to adapt better to their new life because they have spent longer preparing themselves for it and processing the separation. On the other hand, the other partner may feel blindsided, even if they too were unhappy. They may (or may not) eventually agree that separation is best but it is likely to take much longer for the person who didn’t initiate the divorce to move on with their life and they may benefit from extra support in order to come to accept it.
Divorce often involves mourning. Both people had a wish for their families and their life together and they need to come to accept that they will never have that dream and instead come to have a new dream for themselves.
Many people think that once you decide to get divorced you no longer need to work on the relationship. However, this is not true. It can be the perfect time to work through the difficult feelings left by the relationship and may find it helpful to seek out therapy which can allow each person to go into their new lives without the burden of carrying unresolved feelings. Even attending couples counselling at the end of a marriage can be very beneficial. This is even more useful if there are children living in the house as therapy can help the couple to release negative feelings and be able to co-parent effectively. People who are able to work through their anger and hurt in therapy are less likely to convey that anger to their child about the other parent thereby protecting the child from carrying the burden of the parent’s relationship.
It’s important to find a therapist who has experience working with couples and who both people feel comfortable with- don’t be afraid to meet with a few people until you find someone you are happy with. The therapist does not take sides or tell the couple what to do. Rather their job is to help both people to express themselves clearly and to feel heard by the other person. The focus is not on one person but rather on the relationship between the two of you.
Whatever the reasons for the divorce it is important to remember that it is very rarely the end of the relationship or the end of all the problems, rather it is a new chapter in each person’s life that will bring new challenges. It is best to go into this new phase feeling free of the past and ready to face the future openly. This is done by talking to supportive people and seeking out professional help if necessary.
By: Kyla Maimon Edinburg
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