Posts Tagged ‘Divorce Support’

January Blues

It is said that January is ‘Divorce Month’ when there is a spike in the statistics showing that more petitions are issued in January than at any other time of year.  Why is that?  There is something about the new year that focuses people on decisions that have to be made.  It is not that suddenly people think they might like a divorce and go and see a solicitor, it is more a question of having thought about separation for a long time and feeling unhappy that people suddenly realise that they don’t want to start yet another year in a marriage that doesn’t work.  It is almost impossible to separate before Christmas (although people often find out about affairs before Christmas) and with it out of the way, then people who have been contemplating it for a long time, feel that it is an opportunity for a new start.  It can be confusing to be on the receiving end of a divorce petition in January.  It is confusing for someone who is left to make sense of a nice family Christmas and a good break to then be met with being told that the relationship is over.  People are very good at hiding what they are feeling but it does make one mistrustful of ever knowing what is going on in someone’s head.  Often the person who does the leaving or the breaking up of the relationship has been planning it for a very long time, both by thought and often by deed (finding alternative accomodation or another relationship) and that leaves the person who is left reeling from the shock and having to catch up with events. A January separation gives the term January Blues a whole other depth of meaning. 

Men seeking support during separation

Since I started Divorce Support Group, many more women than men have contacted me either for individual counseling and support or to join a support group, that is, until now.  Now I have as many men as women so that the groups are more balanced in terms of numbers.  It is really useful to hear the other side of things.  As a husband who has perhaps been left, it is useful to hear from a woman in the group who has done the leaving and vice versa.  It is so much easier to hear things from people who have come together solely to share experiences than from well intentioned friends, who may have their own agendas.  I don’t know why more men are now seeking help and are happy to talk about their loss, but it is good both for them of course, but also for women who can hear now the male perspective.

New Divorce Support Groups across the Country.

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Dawn French and Lenny Henry.

Much press today about the separation of Dawn French and Lenny Henry, with most of the press trying to find a reason for their separation by focussing on Lenny Henry’s affair ten years ago.  Of course it is speculation and essentially private as to what caused their decision, but I think it is interesting that they have chosen to separate now that their daughter is 18.  Many people in a long term relationship believe that as their children near the time of leaving home that they can then concentrate on each other and have their original relationship back.  Sadly, that is often not the case and it is certainly true in the divorce support groups that we run that many people come to them who have come out of very long marriages and are in their 50’s.  Having concentrated on raising children and not really paying much attention to one’s partner results in the realisation that left alone together, that essential connection has been lost.  Suddenly, instead of a new honeymoon period, people realise they have nothing left to say to one another and the intimacy of being alone together is too difficult to navigate and negotiate.  It sometimes seems to one of the partners that its a whole lot easier to start again with someone else than to face the person they have in fact lived a parallel life with for 25 years.

The effect of divorce on men

Much is written about the effect of divorce on women, but much less about men.  Men who have been left feel depressed and isolated.  Generally men feel that they have no one to talk to, see much less of their children than they did before and have to find money that they worry that they haven’t got.  Women seem more able to engage the help of friends, family and professional support.  The men who seek professional support do much better than those who carry on with a public face that belies how terrible they feel inside.  It is easy to marginalise how men feel and imagine that they are doing fine when in fact, much of the time they are not.

Resolution Family Law Conference

Just had an interesting day in Manchester at the Resolution Family Law Solicitors conference giving a talk to Family Lawyers on the emotional impact of divorce.  Really, the message was for lawyers to be mindful that clients aren’t just looking for legal advice but a steer on the emotional impact of their separation.  It is important for lawyers to be mindful that a client who instructs them, does not just have legal issues to deal with and a real service will be done, if it is recognised that clients should be referred to therapists or counsellors who can help them process this bereavement. This will make the legal process less painful for them to deal with and produce better outcomes.  How is a person to make well informed decisions when riding an emotional roller coaster.

Calling a Stepmother mummy

In a  recent Australian case a mother went to Court  to prevent her child calling her Step Mother mummy D.  The Court ruled that it would not prevent the child calling her stepmother what she wanted.  It is very sad that this case went to court and is another example of parents using their child as a pawn in the battle between them.  It is really important to take into account the other parent’s feelings over things like this, which will reduce the hostility between the parents and therefore the situation will be much more pleasant for the child.  It is also good that a child feels comfortable and close to a step parent. It is a far better situation than a child dreading being around their step parent when they have to be.

Celebrating Divorce – I don’t think so.

Just preparing for the ‘divorce show tomorrow in London.  It will be interesting to see what sort of response it gets from people and from the media.  There has been much in the media lately of ‘celebrating divorce’ with cakes, and lists and parties.  I think it is difficult to see how a major life event, that is on a par with bereavement can feel like a celebration.  It is a loss and like all losses has to be processed in order to make sense of it.  Hopefully once that is done, it is possible to move forward and look to a different future which is meaningful.  I do believe that divorce can be an end but it is also in time a new beginning.