In my experience, it is difficult and painful, but possible, to look at divorce as a step towards personal growth. It can be very sad, even heartbreaking, but nonetheless an inevitable reality. Something critically important in the union between the two people has broken down. And on one side or both sides, there’s not enough resilience, love, passion or interest to bring the relationship back to life.
In cases of cheating, there’s usually a lot of high emotion; blaming the cheater for everything that went wrong in the past and present. The outrage of the betrayed person can truly be a force to be reckoned with.
Another situation that elicits high emotion is the breakdown of the couples physical relationship. Usually one partner was more likely than the other to avoid sex, which made the other feel rejected and unloved. These situations often degenerate into one of them counting the times they’ve had sex in the last year and the other feeling hostile and defensive. Then, they’re set up to have power struggles in a divorce.
It could be that a couple has never gotten along; they fought their way through every phase of their relationship. And now one of them is tired of it and the other doesn’t understand why.
So, from these examples, you can see the high emotion and potential for drama in divorce. What usually goes along with all of that is high anxiety for one or both of the individuals. Anxiety can cause sensitivity, volatility, intensity and desperation. Anger causes fixation on certain points of contention and fury over feeling misunderstood and sidelined. Depression or sadness makes the whole situation seem hopeless, fearful and lonely.
It’s very important for people who are divorcing to realize that they’re going through a highly emotional life change. Divorce represents a major loss and requires the people to go through the stages of loss to heal.
Although this is much easier said than done, it’s usually a good idea for the divorcing individuals to ask themselves what they would do if they couldn’t be emotional about it. Divorce is a legal process that can be very lengthy and expensive if it’s drawn out. And it’s important to know what’s going to improve if the divorce is difficult. In some cases one partner wants to make the other suffer or hear his/her points one last time. But, isn’t the best revenge living well? Actually, at the end of the day, doesn’t the best life come from living well?
Plus, when children are involved, a dramatic divorce hurts them. I think it’s really important for divorcing people to ask themselves how much pain and anguish they want to put on their children. It’s usually impossible to keep drama from spilling over onto them. If you think about being role models for your kids, it puts a different perspective on how you handle divorce. Suddenly, factors like respect, dignity and grace become important.
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