Marriage is the most difficult and demanding of all the life tasks. Marriage asks more of its partners than does any other relationship. It’s the most demanding and yet we are prepared less for cooperating with another human being and what could go wrong than any other relationship. Contemplating divorce is one of life’s most challenging experiences. Spiritually and emotionally both partners are drained. Their families, children, and friends experience helplessness and agonize with them.
When there is severe alcohol or drug abuse and violence, divorce may be the only solution. Under these circumstances, divorce is an honorable way out of a miserable situation. No therapist suggests that a couple tolerate a miserable or abusive situation.
Divorce is a process. When one partner, has removed their spouse from their quality world, the emotional/relational aspect of the marriage is over. They may stay together, but there is no relationship. Couples often describe this as “living with a roommate.”
The feeling of loneliness often accompanies the emotional disengagement. One partner has decided to end the relationship, and the other spouse often feels “left behind”. Therapy can help the person who “feels left behind” to move forward and end the marriage. It can help the person who left, resolve their resentment and guilt.
Therapy can help the couple to recognize and not use the children in their emotional turmoil. Children want to be left out of the fight and not get triangulated into the couple’s emotional struggles.
In therapy we want to move the couple from an unhappy marriage to a happy divorce. Divorce is both a legal and emotional process. The more you work out the emotional aspects of the divorce the better the legal aspects can be resolved.
Finding a competent therapist can be challenging. A therapist who listens and agrees is not necessarily helpful. A good therapist is someone who is challenging and direct but not judgmental; is open-minded and willing to let you explore options in life that are very different from their own. He/she is someone who doesn't rush to diagnose and pathologize, and who has a keen understanding of the intricacies of intimacy and sexuality. Divorce, handle correctly, is something you will recover from and an opportunity to start a new life.