Unlike marriage counseling, divorce counseling isn’t about resuscitating a marriage, it’s about breathing life into the victims of a tragic event—divorce. And who are the victims? Too often wounded ex-spouses feel they are the only victims. However, if they were to look over the battlefield, they would see their children, parents, extended family, and even friends.
It’s not all your fault
Placing blame after the fact is like pouring salt over fresh wounds. When ex-spouses blame each other, they put on blinders to their own faults and begin to create in their memory an inaccurate history of events. They are thus destined to bring the same problems into a new relationship that they created in the former. Children often blame themselves through ridiculous leaps of logic, as if the D on their report card destroyed the family. Too often parents believe that their child will just bounce back and someday be as good as new.
The aftermath of a divorce is a minefield of inaccurate and harmful thoughts or beliefs. Counseling for all those involved will help clarify events and ease thoughts of guilt or blame. Future relationships for both ex-spouses and even for any children involved will depend on an honest, accurate understanding of the divorce. Married children often need counseling as much or even more than young children do. A married child may see the divorce of their parents as an indictment of all they believe or understand about the world. They begin to question their own relationship and even the relationship they have with their self.
What’s the plan?
Few, if any, divorces are clean breaks. There is usually a great deal of collateral damage. There is also the need for a post-divorce strategy that creates an environment for healing. No plan should ever allow any party to continue to emotionally injure any family member. A counselor may have many suggestions on how to continue post-divorce without fearing the actions or comments of another party. Children need to know the plan and feel as comfortable with it as possible. Ex-spouses need to set and respect new boundaries. All of this is much easier and feels safer when a dispassionate counselor is involved.
No matter how long a marriage lasts, it usually constitutes significant emotional and financial investment. Even though most want a divorce to make everything go away; it doesn’t. Most people recognize the importance of involving an attorney to handle the financial details of a divorce. Equally important, and in some cases more important, is to seek experienced divorce counseling to help individuals recover from the emotional loss of a divorce. Financial issues improve with time, but emotional wounds can last a lifetime unless they are handled properly during and after the divorce.