Check out this post on Mediation Works Inc.’s Divorce Mediation Blog. I will be doing a roundtable discussion with MWI on November 15, 2013. Please read on and click below for more details.
Divorce Mediation Blog
Turning Towards An Alternate View of Divorce
By Andrew Kang, JD, LICSW
Sometimes it happens. Two people fall out of love and lose their connection to one another. Maybe they’ve tried hard to fix things, to no avail. Maybe they have kept things going for so long that they run out of the energy or willingness to continue. Maybe being together just doesn’t make sense anymore. It happens, quite often, in fact. That doesn’t mean these people are failures or that they are bad people. But that’s probably what they’re thinking about themselves, due mostly to the dominant perception and narrative surrounding marriage. Couldn’t there be another way to look at it? Isn’t it possible for this to be the best decision for two people, and their family? I would say, it happens. And if care is taken in the process, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Instead it could be a wonderful beginning.
I’ve been divorced. I am familiar with the negative feelings – the pain of loss, the resentment, the guilt. Such feelings are as inevitable as they are necessary. In a very real way, a divorce is a traumatic loss. And just as coping with any significant loss is an arduous process, so too is going through a divorce. That process is unique to each individual, based on his or her makeup, predispositions and attitudes. If a person is prone to anger, we might see that as the dominant emotion coming out in the process. The same is true for someone who tends towards sadness, or detachment, or conflict. But it can also be true of someone who sees the brighter side of things. Optimists get divorced too, and their processes might look quite different.
However, what is consistent is what we have all been taught to think about divorce, and its precursor, marriage. They call it an institution because of its strict codes, rules and traditions. They call it a sacred bond, never to be entered into lightly, but also never to be broken. I believe that most people enter into marriage with the best of intentions, and do not take it lightly. They probably even intend for it to be permanent. But permanent isn’t really the way most things in this world work. Everything changes. Especially people and relationships. Some people grow together and some grow apart. The trick is not taking on all of the negative press about divorce. Going through it is hard enough, without having additional feelings of institutional failure to worry about.
For all of the assumed negatives, it is also true that after the unpleasantness is done, a divorced person gets their life back. Or, better yet, they get a chance at a new life – one that looks the way they want it to look, one that they get to choose. They get a life that they want to live, and they get to start living life again. They have a chance at better choices that are true to themselves. They get to have better relationships that are fulfilling and supportive rather than burdens that drain them. They get to seek out connection rather than running to avoid it. They are now free to have all of these things. And haven’t they paid a heavy price to get them? Shouldn’t they now enjoy them? I think so. I hope so.
Andy Kang is a therapist and is an Adjunct Professor at the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work. Learn more about his work online at Boston Professionals Counseling.
Andy is conducting an MWI Roundtable, “The Emotion of Divorce – A Primer for Mediators” on November 15, 2013 in Boston, MA. For more information or to register click here.