There are few marriages that run their course without one or both partners wondering if “I’d be better off alone,” yet it’s quite another thing to take that step into separation or divorce.
In nearly 20 years of counselling individual and couples I have never experienced a person going into divorce lightly; the depth of emotional investment created in couple relationships seem to exclude any superficial response to divorce.
To take a step back, we could say that there are 4 domains to divorce:
- the legal
- the financial
- the parental
- the emotional
It’s in the last two domains where I consider my area of work, helping individuals and couples untangle the often decades old spaghetti junction of their relationship with its dreams and disappointments in order to pursue a clearer drive through.
It’s in the fourth domain that often our troubles arise. Our emotional life, its wellbeing, psychology, hopes, dreams, sexual and spiritual longings become the very relationship dynamics that we get caught up in and drive us, often traumatically, in divorce. It’s true to say that often what brought us together, pulls us apart.
What occurs during the breaking of the relational bond is a sudden activation of our old brain, which becomes super-aroused. This is the part of us that is bound up in flight or fight, our amygdala gets hijacked and the couple who were once joined at the hip are now joined at the hippocampus in what seems to be a very primitive battle for survival.
Making clear, reflective decisions at this time, choices that will profoundly impact on a life for decades to come can be hugely difficult. “How do I know I’m doing the right thing?” is a question I hear time and time again.
Quite frankly, if you are asking yourself (and me) that question, you probably don’t know-yet-if you are doing the right thing.
So, don’t decide. Take time. Talk it through. Get help. Process. Get more help.
The end of your marriage is not the end of your life, it’s really a new beginning, but in the pain and trauma that might be leading up to making the move into divorce, in the tangled thoughts and emotions here are some questions you might like to ask yourself
- Do I believe I’ve outgrown this relationship?
- What would it feel like to be in this relationship for another 5 years?
- If I go forwards with this separation and/or divorce, what help do I need to stay on track for my family, for my work?
- Am I thinking clearly here or caught up in tangled emotions?
Take time. Talk it through. Get help. Your future deserves it.