Archive for April, 2012

Do people give up on marriage too easily?

This morning Sir Paul Coleridge said, that having adjudicated on hundreds of divorces he wants to let people know that they shouldn’t give up so easily on their marriages. His view is that divorce is the scourge of our generation.  I am not sure if it is a scourge but it is pretty much common place.  I and other therapists working with Divorce Support Group see hundreds of people suffering from the impact of divorce and separation. The impact is devastating and has repercussions and consequences for not only the individuals themselves but also for children,grandchildren,grandparents,friends and other family members.  The
consequences of divorce can last, if not negotiated properly a very longtime.  Do I agree then, that people should work harder on their marriages? No-one I have seen over very many years, has ever left their marriage easily.  Those who have been left have no choice because their partner has simply made the decision for both ofthem.  Those who have done the leaving have not done so lightly.  Usually, therehave been many years of unhappiness, where couple counselling has been sought and tried, where the couple have tried and tried again to make it work.  I just don’t see that people choose to walk out on a marriage in an easy way, like choosing a new pair of shoes or which country to visit for a holiday.  It’s not like that.  It is really important that if it is possible to stay together then it’s best if they can but if it’s not, then an amicable reasonable divorce is what needs to happen.  Years ago, people spent lifetimes in unhappy relationships.  Now they don’t.  People are free of societal expectation and can therefore leave.  That doesn’t mean that it is done easily.

The end of Legal Aid

There is an article in today’s Guardian about removal of legal aid in all family cases apart from where there is an issue of domestic violence. The removal of legal aid helps makes a level playing field impossible and slows the court system down as people understandably use court time to work out what they are supposed to be doing and arguing points that may not be relevant or beneficial to them.  In my view it is short sighted as good legal advice,  shortens areas of dispute and enables people to see what their rights are and therefore empowers them to negotiate an informed settlement if possible.  People who come to our workshops feel very distressed that they are unable to access the marital assets that they are entitled to, because of lack of funding.  On the one hand they have been enabling their partner to earn money by looking after children or taking a lesser paid job but when it comes to it, they find themselves in an inequitable position having to go it alone whilst their partner can play power games with their money and legal team. Not good.

How long does it take to get over Divorce?

This is a question I am asked many times by people who come to our Divorce Workshops and support groups.  Is there a one size fits all answer?  Of course, like anything in life, people react to major life events in different ways.   Some people are able to function after a separation and some people aren’t.  Some people allow the ‘story’ of their divorce to become their life narrative for many years, telling it as if it was yesterday and allowing it to inform and explain all sorts of reasons why a job was not applied for, or there hasn’t been another relationship, or why they have lost their friends or why they are permanently depressed.  To make separation or divorce your life narrative is to be stuck in time and stuck in an event that seems impossible to get round or move out of the way.  For others, there is the mourning proces which in time enables you to say goodbye and move on, transferring love, affection and joy for life elsewhere.  For some, separation triggers earlier losses that haven’t been fully processed and therefore the grief in the present is amplified more than it might otherwise be.  Apart from the bereavement and ensuing grief that comes with divorce, there is also the question ‘is this normal?’ Should I be feeling like this? Many people at our workshops talk about their friends thinking its time they moved on and they should be over it by now.  It is impossible to ‘get over’ something unless it is properly mourned and dealt with. What is needed in order to heal is patience, support and feeling that you are not the only one.   Sharing experiences and learning how others cope in similar situations is undoubtedly helpful.  Understanding your emotions and therefore making sense of them and creating some order out of them is also
invaluable.  Feeling you are not the only one goes a long way to feeling that what you are going through is normal.  The question how long does it take to get over divorce is asked because it is too difficult to contemplate that the pain that is felt will last one day longer than absolutely necessary.  Just as when you have an operation or are ill, you are keen to know from the Doctor when you will feel better, you would like to know by what month you will feel more like your old self.   There is no specific answer but I can say, that after a year things should feel better and after two, much better.  If after two years the grief, anger and upset feels as though it is the same as it was in the beginning then you will need some professional help to look at what is stopping you moving on with your life.  Many people use the anger they feel at their divorce as a way of stopping them looking at an unplanned for future or looking forward.  If you can keep looking back at what has happened, you have the false feeling that you are still somehow hooked into a relationship of a kind instead of letting it go and
feeling the fear of a future that you haven’t planned for.   To let go means to look forward rather than back and to let go means letting go of something that is familiar and therefore comfortable even though it is also unbelievably painful.   It is relatively easy to get a legal divorce, getting an emotional one is a whole different story.    Just like bereavement, getting over a divorce takes time and the process can be made quicker with professional help.