Is there such a thing as divorce recovery? We can all cite instances of friends, family or acquaintance who just never seem to get over their divorce. They continue to talk about, think about and, in general, complain about their divorce as if it happened yesterday, when in reality their divorce may have occurred years prior. It often becomes difficult to be around such people and we don’t know how to support or be a friend to them. Oftentimes we find ourselves pulling back from these people as we just don’t know what to say anymore.
However, we cannot ignore the realities of divorce in our society. In the United States the statistics are clear, but cold. Fifty percent of all marriages will end in divorce, with sixty percent of second marriages ending in divorce. Divorce affects many people beyond those divorcing spouses. Children especially are hit hard, with one-half of all American children witnessing the breakup of their parents’ marriage. Divorce is very stressful and is rated second only to the death of a spouse on the Social Readjustment Scale of stressful life events.
What can we do? Divorce makes everyone so uncomfortable, because if it happened to them, it COULD happen to us. Here’s what you can do:
- Listen (without criticism or judgment). Divorce is a loss, just as death is a loss. There are a lot of emotions which must be acknowledged and talked about. Would you expect a friend to get over the death of a spouse or child in a few weeks time?? A divorce is different for everyone, but in general expect the roller coast of emotions to continue as long as 18 months to two years, dependent upon the length of the marriage.
- Encourage mediation and alternatives to adversarial divorce when indicated. The hardest part of the process for kids (and everyone in general) is conflict. Kids whose parents engage in ongoing conflict have the most profound problems. Encourage professional counseling help if you have the opportunity.
- Help with the physical tasks of readjustment. Your friend or family member needs your support in transitioning from being married where there were two people to perform the necessities of daily living and child rearing to being single and “doing it all.” Moving, yard work, going back to school, learning to cook, finding baby-sitters, etc. can be overwhelming without support.
- Suggest alternative support systems. Many organizations and websites offer divorce recovery workshops and materials to assist with the readjustment phase following divorce. There are also many self-help groups to assist with adjustments that must be made.
- Offer Acceptance in general. Clearly, divorce is not going away. Don’t let your friends feel as if they are now “different.” Let them know you are there for them in all ways.
Areas of Practice
- Mediator and Trainer
- Conducts workshops and training sessions for individuals and groups
- Mediation and Consulting services include General Mediation and Family Mediation
- Clinical services provided include Psychotherapy and Hypnotherapy in an outpatient setting for individuals, couples, families and groups
Has mediated cases throughout Texas. Clients have include corporations, small businesses, government agencies, families, and private parties in conflict. Areas of expertise include divorce and children of divorce issues, women’s issues, elder issues, gender issues, abuse and trauma.
- Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, Rhode Island, 7/96
- Family Mediation – Specialization, Work-life Institute, Houston, TX, Dallas, TX, 11/95
- General Mediation, A. A. White Dispute Resolution Center, South Texas College Law, Houston, Texas, 6/92