Emotions During Divorce
The decision to end your marriage is not just a legal proceeding, but an emotional task that will influence the agreements you make and determine the outcome of your divorce settlement. While different people experience their feelings in different ways, most would agree that the loss of any important relationship will result in an emotional response that could be as severe as that of a death in the family. Although this response is normal, the result is often distorted perceptions that could hinder your ability to effectively process new information and creatively problem-solve. The intensity of your emotions could even produce an actual nervous system response where you experience a variety of physical sensations in your body such as an accelerated heart rate, a jittery stomach and/or hot flashes of energy. What’s more, as divorce proceedings move forward and even if your emotions are manageable, most couples continue to rely on old habits of relating which were often ineffective ways to communicate during the marriage and will more than likely, yield no better results during the divorce.
This is where an impartial Mental Health Professional (MHP) or a Collaborative Divorce Coach can be essential in helping you and your partner sort through the overwhelming emotions created by the loss of an important relationship along with changing family dynamics. While each of you will have a lawyer that will provide you with sound legal advice, the MHP’s role is one of neutrality, support, and guidance. Your MHP will not provide therapy or give advice within the context of your collaborative divorce, but will offer you objective feedback intended to help you and your partner to conduct yourselves in ways that promote constructive communication and reaching agreements. This includes, but is not limited to, identifying and prioritizing the concerns of each person, the establishment and enforcement of basic and productive communication, the management of emotional outbursts, working collaboratively with the team to reduce misunderstandings, and if children are involved, the development of effective co-parenting skills. Although the task of divorce is rarely easy, a divorce where there is a mutual commitment to open and respectful communication will provide an opportunity for you and your partner to move through the divorce process in a more constructive and emotionally healthy way.
The bottom line is this: a “bad” divorce serves no one and can produce psychological scars for you and your family that could take a lifetime to heal. If your marriage must end, a divorce where both parties desire to move forward as amicably as possible and are willing to work at understanding and managing their emotions is the better option. While old ways of relating often die hard, the MHP in your collaborative divorce can provide you with alternative ways of dealing with your differences that promote new ways of relating. Trust the process and trust your professionals. Your divorce still won’t be a walk in the park, but it can be better.
by Robin Watts – Robin Watts is a Licensed Professional Counselor with expertise in the areas of perfectionism and control issues, family of origin issues, boundaries, life skills, self-esteem and assertiveness issues as well anxiety and depression management. She also works as a Mental Health Professional to facilitate collaborative divorces and settlements assisting clients in communicating in ways that facilitate reaching agreements. Robin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.