Divorce is a transition of immense proportions within the framework of your marriage and family. During this transition, you are likely to experience anger and conflict (perhaps even more than usual) and a complicated grief cycle that affects everything in your life, including your work, parenting, and relationships. There is also the anxiety that goes with moving into a new and unknown chapter of life.
What you will experience is only a fraction of what your children will experience if you or your spouse are unable to contain your emotions and focus on parenting them. While it may be difficult at times, your parental love and authority can be your salvation. You will find that focusing on their needs will provide the best therapy for you, your spouse, and your children.
In fact, you can succeed at divorce, even if you did not succeed at marriage. And your children can survive it without being permanently wounded.
Dealing with your own feelings is essential to a ‘healthy’ divorce for your children. Your emotions shape your perceptions of your behavior, your spouse’s behavior, and the divorce, which in turn, affects your ability to be a responsible parent during the divorce. Recognizing and addressing this is a key element of a successful divorce.
Essentially, there are three kinds of divorce:
- The Angry Divorce: One or both spouses are unable to separate their anger from their grief, perhaps due to the cause of the divorce or the experiences they had during their marriage. This anger spills over in every aspect of their lives, to their spouse (a primary target), their friends, their family, or their work. In particular, during an Angry Divorce, the children become a tool for the expression of that anger, and they can be marred in many unfortunate ways.
- The Distant Divorce: Often, an emotionally distant marriage, which was negotiated in silence between the spouses, results in an emotionally distant divorce. In these cases, it is the silence (both during the marriage and during the divorce) that can be most confusing to the children. However, the Distant Divorce may allow the children the emotional space they need to find a healthy way through the transition, as anger is not being used by the parents to control them or the spouse.
- The Cooperative Divorce: This is the divorce that provides the best chances for your children. In a cooperative divorce, the spouses have decided together to put their children first, to find a way to co-parent responsibly, and to help them first with their feelings and fears.
In conclusion, it is the ability of the parents/spouses who are divorcing to look inside themselves and to consider and understand their emotions during the divorce that dictates what kind of divorce they will have, and, by corollary, what kind of divorce their children will survive. Because survive they will, as children are resilient, young and have a long life ahead of them. You and your spouse will survive as well even though there are many unknowns which arise after dissolving your marriage.
If you are considering divorce, contact us for a consultation.