Think about therapy
The divorce process is stressful and confusing. Divorcing a spouse is often said to be as stressful as the death of a loved one. When spouses argue about issues of custody, support and dividing their marital assets and liabilities, it is easy for one or both to be overwhelmed. This stress and anxiety very often carries over to the children of the divorcing parties.
Ideally, both divorcing spouses will have strong social support networks in the form of family, friends and even coworkers. Each spouse will have trusted people with whom they can talk freely and openly about the emotions, conflicts and realities of the situation. Hopefully, this support network will serve as more than the proverbial “peanut gallery” serving only to badmouth the other spouse and give unwarranted and often misguided legal advice. The support network works best when they are able to provide a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen.
Unfortunately, in many cases, divorcing spouses do not have a strong support network or their support network is not readily accessible due to logistical issues (family or friends living far away, busy day-to-day activities rendering a supporting family member unable to available at a moment’s notice, etc.) In these situations, it may be appropriate for the divorcing spouse to seek the assistance of a family therapist. The therapist will be able to provide their professional assistance from a neutral and unbiased, yet supportive and helpful, point of view.
Even if a party has a strong support network, therapy may be helpful. Many times, well-meaning family members and friends will attempt to cheer up the divorcing spouse by bad-mouthing the other party or encouraging the divorcing spouse to make the litigation as long and drawn out as possible to punish the other party. This advice, while tempting, is never helpful. It only serves to focus the issues negatively towards the other party. This is not conducive to an amicable and expeditious settlement of the divorce litigation. Fortunately, the therapist will not participate in these tactics. The therapist will instead focus on the party’s mental and emotional state of mind. The party and their therapist will work towards minimizing the stress and anxiety of the divorce process rather than blaming the other party.
The parties should also consider utilizing therapeutic or counseling services for their children. Regardless of the age of the children, their parents’ divorce will be extremely stressful. While it is helpful for parents to minimize the arguments in front of their children and to not speak about the divorce process to their children, it is almost impossible to completely shelter the children from knowing what is going on between their parents. Providing the children with a neutral outlet to discuss their conflicting emotions by having them participate in therapy can be a great resource in minimizing the detrimental effects of the divorce on the children. A child, who may feel pressured into picking a parent’s side, will have a neutral adult to talk to about such conflicting feelings. The child will learn coping mechanisms and effective emotional management techniques to deal with the divorce.
Family therapy is another great resource for divorcing spouses with children. This type of therapy acknowledges that parties with children will have to remain in each other’s lives forever. Even when the children are grown and out of the house, the divorced parents will still have to interact with one another during holidays and special occasions (such as the child’s wedding). By establishing a civil dialogue early in the divorce process, the parties will be in the habit of communicating clearly and without malice, at least regarding their children.
In many cases, utilizing the services of a therapist or a counselor in addition to an existing social support network will enable the parties and their children to weather the storm of the divorce much easier than if those resources are not utilized. This will also help reduce the time and expense of protracted litigation as both parties will be focusing on an amicable resolution instead of punishing the other party for the breakdown of their marriage. Finally, the therapist will help the party keep the children out of the litigation and conflict, which will be immeasurably helpful in maintaining, and even growing, the child’s self-esteem, conflict resolution skills, and interpersonal relationship skills.
Contact your attorney to get the names of recommended therapists and see if this course of action is right for you.