Although the overall divorce rate is falling, it is rising sharply for those 40 and over, with the decline only for those aged 25-39. Divorce is one of the top three stressors in life, and is often coupled with moving, another of the top three. When divorces become highly conflictual, the psychological, physical, and financial toll are nearly unbearable.
Coping with divorce requires significant emotional-regulation skills and a chance grieve the loss of the most important relationship in a person's life. However, when you thoughtfully and honestly approach divorce with a commitment to learning from this most painful life experience you can ultimately move on to create a more joyful and fulfilling life. But getting through the divorce transition can test even the most resilient of us.
Divorce and Children
When handled well, children can thrive after a period of adjustment to their parents' divorce. The key is LOW CONFLICT. In fact, children are at risk for numerous problems, including depression, anxiety, drug use, school dropout, when there is high conflict between their parents—whether divorced or in the same house. In fact, children whose parents argue frequently in the home have the same risks for poor outcomes as children from high-conflict divorced parents.
The majority of households in US are now blended families, surpassing nuclear and single-parent households. However, the blending of two families can be a challenge, and most couples underestimate how long and slow the process should take. Experts estimate that most blended families need 5 years to successful transition to a sense of integration and wholeness.
I begin with a comprehensive assessment that includes not only standard DSM diagnosis, but also consider specific brain-based subtypes of stress; relational dynamics that inform choice of treatment; and other physical factors that may contribute to the symptoms. Beginning with a comprehensive understanding of the psychological, relational, and physiological factors ensures that treatment is focused on the right issues.
The initial phases of treatment focus on helping clients to emotionally process the divorce and cope with the numerous stressors that are involved in the process. If there are children involved, addressing parenting issues is also critical. Managing the strong emotions involved with divorce is essential to reducing potential damage from unnecessarily hostile legal battles, dragging children into the conflict, or making poor choices as a way to cope.
Once the crisis issues are stabilized, I work with clients to identify what happened in their marriage and what they can learn from this. Without 6-12 months of honest reflection on your own role in the dissolved marriage, you are almost always guaranteed to repeat the pattern again in your next relationship. When you do the work to examine your patterns, you are much more likely to enter into a healthier relationship next time.
Moving On to a New Life
In the final phase, I help clients in rebuilding a happier life and improved skills for maintaining health relationships. Although it often did not seem possible at first, my clients invariably emerge from divorce more confident and happier than before, leading a life more closely aligned with their dreams.
Most clients find that reading books on related to divorce help support them in coping with the strong emotions, fears, and loss and reduce the sense of failure and isolation.
Rebuilding provides a comprehensive guidebook from the initial shock of divorce to creating a new, vibrant future. The authors provide guidance in coping with the many difficult emotions related to divorce, such as grief, guilt, rejection, loneliness, and trust.
Getting Past Your Break Up provides a non-nonsense guide for recovering from a potentially conflictual breakup by helping you set clear boundaries that allow you to focus on healing. The book also addresses how to make life easier for children during the divorce and strategies for moving on.
The Co-Parenting Handbook guides parents through the separation and divorce process with a focus on minimizing negative effects on the children. It covers common areas of conflict, such as holidays, new partners, public spaces, and finances.
Saving Your Second Marriage Before It Starts guides you through a series of nine questions to reflect on whether you are ready to start again. It educates on essential relationship skills correlated with happy marriages.
The Divorce Workbook for Children has 40 activities to help children discuss their feelings and cope with divorce. It can also be used as a reference for discussing divorce with your children.
Written for younger children, Two Homes is a storybook that helps children adjust to common changes that are part of divorce.