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Separation and Divorce

Separation And Divorce

Separation and Divorce

Some marriages end suddenly while others seem to fall apart over a long period of time. Whatever the circumstances, if you are dealing with a separation or divorce this is probably a very difficult period in your life.

Separation and Divorce

No matter what the cause, if your marriage fails you are likely to feel a whole range of intense emotions: depression, sadness, anger, hurt, anxiety, fear of an uncertain future, loneliness, confusion over the many decisions you must make, and a sense of failure at your lost plans and dreams.

How you choose to handle a separation or divorce is very important because of the effect it will have on the rest of your life, your spouse's life and on any children you have. If you do not deal with the pain, and if you allow yourself to become bitter, you will be unhappy for a very long time. Let go of your bitterness and anger. Try to look at the separation as an opportunity to re-examine your abilities, your assets and your dreams, and to make the changes necessary for a new, full and rewarding life.

However, before you think about separation or divorce, ask yourself if you've taken all reasonable steps to make the marriage or home situation better by working together. Did you try sitting down calmly with your spouse to discuss the situation? Did you try counseling, either individually or as a couple? Talking to a psychologist, social worker, pastor, or trusted family friend may provide the necessary medium for working out differences. If you have children, consider the impact of leaving or staying on them. And never bring them into the fight.

For most people, it's a shock when a relationship breaks down. Even if you've known for some time that things aren't working out, the final decision to part will stay with you for a long time.  Even once it's over, it can take months for reality to sink in. During this time it's common to find yourself fantasizing about reunion and reconciliation or about responsibilities and recriminations.

Helpful Questions

Understanding why your relationship failed is the first step towards recovery. Many people get locked into questioning: Whose fault it is? What did I do wrong? How could they do that to me? Asking yourself these questions is understandable, but a more constructive approach is to focus on the relationship, rather than individual responsibility. It can be more helpful to think about these kind of questions:

How were things when we first met?
What attracted us to each other?
What made our relationship good?
How have we changed?
What external factors have influenced our relationship?
What has stopped us overcoming our differences?

Although the answers may be upsetting, the greater the understanding, the easier it can be to let go and move on. During this time you'll experience many emotions, including anger, sadness, guilt, despair and confusion; you can expect good days and bad days.

On top of the emotional turmoil that accompanies the end of a relationship, there's a host of practical issues to address. These might include: (1) The children - providing support and time, access arrangements, childcare, telling the school, seeing in-laws, birthday and holiday arrangements; (2) Money and property - who lives where, surviving on less income, managing the finances, who gets what in the home, pets; (3) Friends and family - telling parents/siblings/extended family members/friends, deciding how much to say and who should tell whom, maintaining friendships and relationships with in-laws; and (4) Personal survival - which friends can support you practically and/or emotionally, how you'll create space to grieve, whether you might benefit from counseling, building relaxation into your schedule, treats can you reward yourself with when times are tough.

Getting Help Regarding Separation and Divorce


For my clients I suggest that before you act on your feelings concerning separation or divorce, make sure you have taken all reasonable steps to make the marriage work.  Discuss the problems with a therapist or marriage counselor and make sure you focus on the relationship and on how each of you is behaving, rather than on who is at fault.  In helping my clients, I have found that short term, goal focused, cognitive therapy and Reality Therapy combined with traditional psychotherapy to be very effective (see the link types of therapy).

In addition to dealing with the emotional turmoil that accompanies the end of a relationship, there are many practical issues I can assist with, including issues surrounding children (providing support and time, access arrangements, childcare, school issues, birthday and holiday arrangements), issues about money and property (who lives where, managing the finances and who gets what property), dealing with friends and family (telling others about the situation and deciding how much to say, maintaining friendships, and relationships with in-laws), and personal survival concerns (creating time, space, and a method for grieving, for therapy, and for rest and recovery).

I suggest you make an extra efforts to:

Talk to someone you trust.
Keep a familiar routine for yourself and your children. It is very important to have a sense of stability at a time of such major and painful change.
Avoid isolating yourself from people.
Build your support group. Old friends may become casualties in divorce battles.
Take care of your health and your children’s health.
Provide and eat a balanced diet.
Exercise and play to relieve stress.
Pray, meditate or practice the relaxation response.
Learn some methods for coping with stress. There are many good books you can read on coping with stress, and you may also find some information on relaxation techniques helpful. Check with your local library and bookstore.
Avoid making major decisions until your life has become more settled. Some decisions have to be made quickly, such as housing and school arrangements for the children, and, if you have not been working, getting a job. However, you can put off many decisions until "the dust has settled."
Keep in mind the old saying, "One day at a time."
Allow yourself the time you need to heal.

Remember, it is normal to feel anxious and fearful when life's changing. But with approximately 50% of marriages ending in divorce, you're far from alone - there's an ever-expanding network of advice and support groups available.

 Children and Divorce: a Special Issue


A special note needs to be added here to address the issue of "the children" involved in a separation or divorce situation.  Always remember that children may be resilient, but their armor is only so thick. Children know more, see more and hear more than you think.  If staying together is creating an emotionally troubling situation for them, perhaps separation is the best option.This is undoubtedly one of the toughest times to be a parent, but your children need to know what's happening. You may think that hiding the severity of the situation protects them, but it actually leaves children feeling confused and may drive them away as they feel they can't trust you.

The amount of information you give them will depend on their ages, but they should be encouraged to ask as many questions as they need. Remember, you don't have to hide your feelings to reassure them that they're loved. In fact, sharing appropriately what you feel will help them make sense of their own emotions and feel OK about showing them.

When talking with your children about separation or divorce, it is important to be honest, but not critical of your spouse. Most children want to know why their lives are being upset. Depending on the age of your children and reason for divorce, this may require some diplomacy. As children mature, they will probably want more information.

Get professional help for you and/or your children when you need it. You will face many legal and emotional problems along with separation and divorce and you may need professional help. For legal matters, seek the help of a lawyer. If you are experiencing severe emotional stress, contact your family doctor, me, or some other mental health resource.

Additional Information

For more information about separation and divorce, relationship, couples, family and/or intimacy problems, please click on the linked websites listed below.

 Servicing the fallout
 Helping your child cope
 Services to help support divorcing parents

Would You Like Personal Assistance?

If you really want help dealing with your feelings and emotions, changing your behavior, and improving your life and the approach and office hours of typical therapists and counselors do not fit your life style or personal needs, I may have a solution.

By using very flexible office appointments, telephone consultations, email, teleconferences, and the willingness to travel and meet with you personally in your home, office, or other location, I can be available to help you anytime and anywhere.

Feel free to contact me now for your free initial consultation. Once you become an existing client, you will be given a pager number where you can reach me whenever you need.

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