Blog 82: Divorce: What Divorce Can Mean For A Couple.
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Unfortunately many couples, wishing to divorce, arrive at couple therapy far too late.
As I have already explained – usually the reason why two people are attracted to one another (birds of a feather flock together) is often due to what they share emotionally through their individual childhood experiences as well as – an unconscious desire that the relationship will help heal their past.
When this fails, many people land up disillusioned and disappointed. This is why so many describe their situation as having had a failed marriage.
The failure is often due to the couple not dealing sufficiently with their past, their individual childhood experiences and thus their individual and couple expectations, leaving each member of the couple feeling not only disappointed but probably very sad and angry too.
Also, if a couple either consciously or unconsciously hope that their marriage will give them what their parents never gave them, either financially or emotionally, and then if the marriage ends, this could lead to a deep sense of failure, alienation, loneliness and even depression.
It could also allow buried or hidden past feelings to surface and sometimes these emotions have nothing to do with the marriage union as such. Rather, it’s what the marriage union mirrors for or to the individuals of the couple.
And if these feelings or emotions continue to go unaddressed, this could then have damaging consequences for the relationship, the divorce procedure and possibly future relationships too.
You may have heard some people report that their relationship felt like they were drowning emotionally. This is a good description of what many couples experience if things go wrong. It is usually when there are so many unresolved feelings flying about, that the individual members find it hard to breathe emotionally.
When this happens, often arguments can burst into a crescendo of vicious accusations, accompanied by unrelenting blame, hatred, anger, rage, resentments, and so on, until each member begins to feel out of control. This can be followed by violence and eventually by extreme emotional exhaustion.
These emotional eruptions usually emerge to illustrate the deep unresolved feelings and projections that belong not to the present – but to the past, or indeed each individual’s past.
In the long run, it may mean that in order to continue to survive emotionally, the couple (or indeed each member) may have to separate themselves emotionally from one another.
This is why couple therapy is beneficial: It would help the couple take back their projections and it would help the couple understand what is going on.
However, if a couple still choose to divorce or separate, the split or wrench can feel like part of you is being torn away. And this process can be very painful.
It can bring up all sorts of feelings that can be very disturbing and with it can come massive regret and sorrow, with feelings of abandonment, despair, broken-heartedness and grief.
Divorce is therefore known to also be extremely stressful.
And on top of this, other issues may arise which can add to the anguish of separating:
When couples get married many don’t always realize that they need to draw up marital contracts or nuptials that will ensure any further rights than what is required by law from the country they agree to live in. Although this is not always necessary – it still needs to be researched.
Many couples are so in love and as a result, they don’t realize the consequences of their marriage possibly failing. They just don’t realize the necessity of thinking ahead when everything seems so perfect. And so they prefer to put their heads in the sand.
But also, not having done any research or perhaps not being aware of the rights people are entitled to, depending on which country they live in – many can land up remaining stuck, in destructive, or even violent relationships.
On the other hand, not drawing up the necessary contracts may mean that some suddenly find that they have less rights than they thought they had – and this can have devastating repercussions.
But also, after a divorce or separation, many are often horrified by the costs of a divorce as well as child maintenance – which can be financially crippling.
Splitting and dividing finances and assets, childcare and education costs, dividing and possibly selling the marital home and other properties and so on, are all issues that can add to the stress and pain of separating.
Divorce counselling or mediation, can be very helpful at this stage, as it can help a couple divide their assets and child-care more amiably. Having a mediator to help a couple decide who continues to pay for what and how – can be discussed and this usually proves very useful. Also, having a third party often helps break any disputes in deadlock.
However, as a relationship therapist I always hope that a couple will find better solutions than divorce – especially if children are involved. This is because it is usually the children, the innocent bystanders, who are most affected and who usually suffer the most.
And sadly, it’s the children who get used as ‘bargaining weapons’ and this can have long lasting emotional effects that may not always be useful for a child’s own relationships, especially later on in adulthood.
This is why I urge everybody to gain a better understanding – not only of themselves but also how relationships work. It is therefore crucial to learn to understand why and how we choose our partners, and the effects that this can have, not only on our own well-being – but that of our children too.
People often forget that “we start as we mean to go on”.
The minute anybody meets a prospective partner, they need to begin to ask the right questions to check their suitability. Everyone can begin to look for the signs because they will be there, loud and clear.
Unfortunately, many people are just too thrilled to get attention and have someone fall in love with them, that they forget to ask whether the person is really right for them – long term. Desperate for love, many make the mistake of not thinking about the future because well – love can be so ‘very very blind’.
Sure, some get lucky – but on the whole the divorce statistics say otherwise.
Choosing a partner needs to be done with care and with a full knowledge of a partner and also what marriage entails.
I am therefore always thrilled when new couples come to see me, hoping to start their relationship off with a good footing right from the beginning.
But of course, no marriage can ever be guaranteed absolute success – but at least by getting to know your past, your childhood issues and so on, perhaps you may make better relationship choices to suit your life goals.
© 2017 Deidré Wallace All rights reserved.
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