Most people enter marriage with the hope that it will last a lifetime, and that it will be a mutually rewarding, satisfying experience. Yet around one in three marriages in Australia will end in divorce. For adults and children, divorce can be one of life’s most stressful life events. There often are long-term emotional, psychological, physical and financial challenges that accompany divorce. For the person that does not want to separate the impact of divorce can be shattering. They can experience shock and bewilderment; grief and loss; hopes and dreams can never be fulfilled; guilt; regret; acrimony; dismay; devastation.
Divorced adults, on average, have poorer physical and mental health, experience more social isolation, which leads to feelings of loneliness, unhappiness, and lower self-esteem. Many individuals continue to be dependent on their ex-spouse for emotional support and practical matters even in cases where there has been an affair. Continued strong attachment to their spouse makes adjustment to divorce harder and their ability embrace change more difficult. In cases where there are children and the divorce is one of high conflict, stress can come when one or both parents exaggerates the extent of the post-separation conflict to resist a court order for shared parenting.
Can therapy help?
Working together on improving your relationship can be helpful to enhance the experience of marital satisfaction for you and your spouse. Therapy can facilitate this process, teach you good relationship skills and reduce relationship breakdown. As a psychologist I will not pick sides, make judgments, tell you what to do, or pursued you to stay together or separate.
When a marriage fails, it can often be emotionally traumatic for one or both partners. Therapy can help people deal with the process of separation, which can be mentally, physically, and financially demanding. It can help people address the grief and anger they may feel so that they can move forward toward a more purposeful future. It can also help them deal more effectively with the emotional distress they experience when there is high conflict surrounding financial or custody issues. All these goals can be addressed in individual or couple therapy.
Helpful strategies – moving toward a fulfilling life
When children are involved establish clear boundaries for co-parenting without continued reliance of your spouse for emotional support. Research has found that sometimes maintaining a good relationship with the ex-spouse and working together to be good parents to the children went hand-in-hand with continuing emotional attachment to the ex-spouse, which makes personal adjustment to divorce harder.
Adjust your attitude towards divorce
Adjusting better to divorce leads to a more fulfilling and meaningful post-divorce life. Learning how to embrace the big changes that come with divorce and optimistically work to make your lives better will help you adjust better to divorce. Holding negative feelings towards your ex-spouse can make it harder to adjust to divorce.
Embrace the opportunity to make changes in your life – make a better life for yourself. Be pro-active. Make choices about work, where to live, what kind of activities you will enjoy with your children, about when to start dating. Clarify value-guided actions that will enhance your emotional, psychological and physical well-being, and lead you to a more satisfying and meaningful life.
Stay involved socially and remain active
Staying involved with others socially, pursuing activities that you enjoy, and developing new romantic relationships can be helpful to adjusting to divorce.