About half of all marriages these days are expected to end in divorce. Not a cheery statistic. Divorce, like marriage, has different meanings for different people. Depending on your family history, religious background and personal value system, divorce can be a more or less acceptable option. As unromantic as it might seem, the best time to discuss issues about divorce is before you get married. People differ in their level of commitment and willingness to tolerate adversity. This can play an important role in any marriage.
For some people, marriage is a sacred commitment that cannot be broken. Everything possible must be tried to mend a troubled marriage before calling it quits. For others, marriage is an experiment or experience that appeals to them. Divorce is the logical solution to a troubled marriage and it is simply the risk you take when you get married. The way in which you and your spouse think about divorce can have a huge impact on the way you relate. There are difficult times in any marriage and the more comfortable you are with your stance on divorce, the clearer your path will be.
Feelings of failure, anger, shame, guilt, blame and sadness are likely to be present for anyone contemplating or in the midst of a divorce. Often these emotions are highly intense and difficult to handle. People often feel as though they have failed. Why wasn’t I able to make it work? Why don’t any of my relationships succeed? Anger is another common feeling in divorce. Why didn’t my spouse try harder? Wasn’t I worth fighting for? When infidelity or other indiscretion is involved, blame, shame and guilt are frequently present. For many people, therapy can be extremely helpful during this stressful time in their life.
Divorce becomes even more complex when children are involved. Parents must make a great effort not to drag their children into an already complicated situation. Care must be taken not to complain to the child about the other parent. Children should be reassured that their happiness comes first and that every effort will be made to disrupt their lives as little as possible. Some children experience feelings of guilt and extreme sadness over their parents’ divorce. For kids, divorce often means moving out of their home, reducing contact with one parent, changes in financial status and so forth. Support from family members who are willing to let children freely express themselves and make choices helps them adjust. Some children do have more trouble with this adjustment and often benefit from counseling.
No matter how amicable the divorce it is always difficult for everyone involved. Family therapists can be useful during the marriage to try to work out problems and to keep the family together. In cases where divorce is imminent, family therapists can help work through issues surrounding the divorce and help parents and children through the difficult process.