Have you heard of Discernment Counseling yet? If not, you will as it’s gaining traction in the field of therapy, and it’s part of my job. I’m a therapist in private practice and I help couples.
In Discernment Counseling I sit with couples and help them decide whether they want things to stay the same, if they want to separate or divorce, or if they want to commit to six months of couples counseling with divorce off the table.
No matter their decision, I support them and help them go about following through with their decision in a way that benefits everyone involved.
Because divorce is part of my job, I’ve learned many things, but here are 5 tips for those who have chosen the divorce path:
1. Get yourself into therapy, hire a divorce coach, or join a group or community of other divorcees. Having a neutral third party helping you through the process is extremely beneficial, and you’ll come out on the other side a much better person. Once the divorce papers are signed, sealed, and delivered, the pain does not magically go away. Support is important, and while you may have family or friends who are helping you through it, a professional can be worth their weight in gold when it comes to truly healing.
2. Get support for your kids as well. You may feel like your kids tell you everything, or you can handle their emotions, but there are things that kids have difficulty voicing to their parents, no matter how open and supportive the connection is between them. Having a space that’s just for them where they can open up about life and things that are on their mind will help them with the transition and healing.
3. Take responsibility for your part in the end of the marriage. You can leave your spouse and your marriage, but you have to take yourself with you. I often see individuals who are unable to really look at themselves and see what they contributed that caused the end of the relationships, and in these cases, those people get into new relationships and the same issues come up. This is where therapy or coaching come in handy, as they can help you understand what you can learn and do differently in subsequent relationships.
4. Second-guessing yourself comes with the territory. Even after the ink has dried on your dissolution of marriage, and after you’ve spent many, many nights lying awake contemplating your decision to divorce, you will have doubt, and it’s totally normal. There’s no way to know for sure that you’ve made the right decision, but you have to trust your gut and find ways to rebuild your confidence.
Take the good and learn from the bad. No relationship is completely negative, and you got into your relationship for many reasons, and with the best of intentions. I’ve never worked with a couple that said they entered into their marriage with the intention of getting divorced, yet I see many singles after the fact that have trouble letting go of the negatives and beating themselves up over what they “should have seen.”
Spending less time focusing on the negatives of your relationship will help you in the healing process. There’s much that can be learned from the negative things that happened in your relationship, and while I don’t recommend rehashing every fight or negative trait that your partner possessed, having some sense of the major issues can be helpful as you heal and try and understand what you want out of your next relationship.
Take some time to focus on the positive things you gained from your relationship, and even the strength you’ve likely gained from leaving it with dignity.