As a divorce therapist Studio City, I am often asked if divorce is the end or a beginning. It really all depends on your attitude. With the proper support, difficult transitions can be doorways to new opportunities. What we focus on grows. The positive psychologists know this well. If we focus on sadness, fear, anxiety and tragedy, we will likely be depressed and hopeless. Although we do need an opportunity to vent with regard to these fears, we don’t have to stay there. Divorce does not have to be a tragedy, albeit a painful process.
It is a death of sorts and must be grieved. The stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and ultimately acceptance must be passed through. Most people have known at least one person who gets stuck in the anger stage. By the way, healthy people tend to avoid those folks. For most of us, listening to the rant of a twenty year old betrayal is not an activity that we are drawn to. The depressing generalizations that those who become bitter are just as unpleasant. “All men cheat” or “Women are only interested in money”. As I mentioned earlier, what we focus on grows, so guess what? If you are a woman who peserverates on the idea that “All men cheat”, guess what sort of men you will continue to attract? If you are a man whose philosophy is “Women only want money” you will probably attract those sorts of women.
Negativity begets negativity.
In addition to a divorce therapist Studio City, many years ago, i worked in a battered women’s shelter. Being a young novice in the field, I was a bit passive, when we did the support groups for the women. I watched the more skilled and experienced social worker continually “contain” the volatile emotions of the women. In my “professional adolescence”, what I learned from my esteemed supervisor was this. “We don’t want to allow them to remain in the hopeless, negative state.” When I behaved passively with the women, not only was I not helping them, but I would end up feeling depressed at the end of group. What I noticed with my supervisor was that although he was supremely empathic to the suffering of these women, that he did not accept their dictums about life and instead insisted on instilling hope for them and for their children. His creative and artful abilities to teach them to visualize having their own power in their lives both emotionally and financially was inspirational.
Of course, this is a select population and many of you may feel that you cannot relate to these women. But, as some level, no matter what level of education, sophistication or socioeconomic status, most people feel somehwat disempowered while going through a divorce. It shakes people to the core. There are worries about finances, children and the future. There is loneliness and sadness as well as anger. No one gets married to get divorced. Most people make great attempts to repair the marriage before they finally accept that life will be better for all if they end the relationship.
As far as children are concerned, in the best cases, children take about a year or so to make the adjustment. There may be some acting out behavior, a temporary drop in grades, some anger and/or manipulation. Kids have the best chance to readjust when their parents readjust in a healthy way. Although ideally, it is best for children to grow up in a stable, intact family, it is not necessarily a tragedy if the parents divorce. A positive lesson that can result from the family rupture could be that, change does not have to be devastating and that people can survive and thrive after divorce. Social support is an important element. Church, temple, family and friends play an important role.
Sometimes, the assistance of a good therapist who specializes in helping people through the transition can be important. Being mindful of health matters at this stressful time is vital. Speaking with your doctor if you notice any physical manifestations of the stress is imperative.
It is especially important to ultimately attempt to learn from the mistakes made in the marriage so as not to repeat them. It may be either not being careful enough in the selection of a mate or not speaking up assertively or knowing how to negotiate and compromise in an intimate relationship. you may have inadvertently repeated patterns that you learned form your family or your culture. You may have suffered from the “grass is greener” thinking and had an affair when things become too routine. I often recommend to the couples that I work with to “have an affair with each other” and to remember all of the trouble that they went to to ensure romance in the beginning stages of the relationship.
These issues need to be examined as you begin your new life. It is important to remember not to disparage your ex to your children as that can be hurtful to them. You also don’t want to put them in the position of “choosing sides”. it is important to keep healthy boundaries about “adult” details of the relationship. The kids don’t need to know everything. Some things they should be shielded from.
Many people who survive much worse tragedies than divorce know the following fact. When you go through difficulties you have a choice. You can remain bitter and angry and continue to suffer or you can choose to learn from the experience, forgive yourself and your ex for the failure of the marriage, remember the good memories, be grateful if beautiful children were produced from the union and begin your new life!