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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Pleasants

Counselling Divorce

“Today, we turn to one person to provide what an entire village once did: a sense of grounding, meaning, and continuity. At the same time, we expect our committed relationships to be romantic as well as emotionally and sexually fulfilling. Is it any wonder that so many relationships crumble under the weight of it all?” (Esther Perel)


Nearly half of marriages in the UK end in divorce. Common reasons for divorce include lack of intimacy, lack of commitment, infidelity, and basic incompatibility. Other prevalent causes are constant conflict, financial differences, addiction, or abuse. For some divorce has been a long-time coming, others may be totally blindsided. Either way divorce is a deeply challenging experience, both emotionally and mentally. There are legal, financial, parental, emotional, and practical challenges that require time, energy, and changes in responsibilities and mindsets. Its ripple effects are felt by everyone involved: children, friends, and family, long after the decree absolute is signed. It can take people years to regain equilibrium.


 

Everyone has their own experience of divorce. The luckier ones are those that can part on good terms with financial comfort. But for those who are embroiled in a bitter acrimonious split, divorce can be a brutal process. The anxiety of facing financial ruin, emotional torment, character assassination and the worry of the damage inflicted upon their children can be utterly overwhelming. Divorce often involves a deep sense of loss, prompting a grieving process similar to losing a loved one in the event of death. The grieving process encompasses denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Divorce is different for everyone, and situations vary greatly, but it is highly likely that all or some of the following will be experienced during the process:

 

Denial – is a coping mechanism used in the process of this overwhelming situation. It involves shock, numbness, confusion, avoidance and shutting down, especially if someone has been blindsided in a split.


Anger – there are many reasons for anger, but anger often arises from feelings of injustice, betrayal, rejection, deception, abandonment, and significant loss. A loss of the family unit. Loss of a lifestyle. Loss of a family home. A loss of a future vision.  For parents, spending less time with children this loss often hits hardest, in addition to the partnership of sharing in a child’s successes and disappointments and joint decision making. Some clients report the anger of being trapped in a location/country they don’t want to be in as a single person but are tied because of children and custody rights.


Bargaining - involves questioning, seeking meaning and negotiating for a different outcome. It’s natural to question if you could have done more to save the marriage and this can lead to feelings of guilt, fear, anxiety, and blame.


Depression - stems from sadness, grief, and loneliness. Within this can be feelings that you have “failed” and in the case of infidelity or character assassination a decline in self-esteem. Signs of depression may include feelings of despair, as well as a loss of interest in social activities, changes in sleep and appetite patterns, and an increased reliance on alcohol or drugs as coping mechanisms.


Letting Go - this stage occurs when you realize that reconciliation is not possible. You can hold the pain without feeling overwhelmed.


Acceptance - you find clarity amidst the changes it brings to your life and understand that you will manage in this new reality.


Counselling can play a vital role in helping individuals through the divorce and by understanding the stages of grief individuals can gain insight into  their own emotional journey. A counsellor will listen, provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment that will empower individuals to explore their emotions, gain clarity, and develop coping strategies to navigate the divorce process. Counselling can also offer an opportunity to gain deep self-awareness, understand common tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses, and explore the path that led to this point. This can facilitate a new journey by providing valuable insights for moving forward in a more informed, redefined, and constructive way.


From previous clients it has been particularly useful to explore and navigate:

  • The loss and grief of a relationship ending

  • Anger, bitterness, feelings of betrayal, self-criticism, anxiety, fear and other difficult emotions

  • If children are part of the relationship, working towards being good co-parents and not allow the past to impact on the children’s wellbeing

  • The fears of starting a new phase of life

  • Working upon building resilience for the future

 

It is possible that there is a whole new world of opportunity beyond divorce. It just may need some help to get there…..

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