Can you find sanity while you are involved a divorce? Maybe not, but you can do some things to make yourself feel more grounded and less helpless.
Without fail, I tell any client or potential client that therapy is the best gift they can give themselves as they go through a divorce. And I mean their own individual therapist, not a marriage counselor (that’s a separate matter). For many of us, the cost of therapy may be prohibitive, but if you can afford it, therapy may be the only place where you will get an objective, rather than a biased, perspective about your circumstances. Your family and friends are biased. Your lawyer is biased. Somewhere you need someone who can offer assistance and support from an unbiased point of view.
Benefits of Therapy
A therapist can help you understand your feelings and how to deal with them. A therapist can also help you deal with your estranged spouse, especially if his or her conduct is challenging your coping skills. If you have children, a therapist can also advise you on how to deal with your children in the context of the divorce and, if needed, can make suggestions about how you can help your children cope with an estranged spouse who is acting poorly.
One of the best benefits a therapist can provide is to assist you in discovering and assessing your own responsibility in the divorce. This is really something that’s hard to hear from family and friends, but you don’t want to make the same mistakes again in another relationship.
Besides suggesting that you take responsibility for your own mental health through therapy, I recommend that you not try to get into your spouse’s head. Often, I hear, “Why doesn’t he understand this or that?” or “Why doesn’t she understand she is being totally unreasonable?” Trying to make sense of something that does not make sense will drive you crazy. Stop. It doesn’t matter why. It just is. Similarly, I hear, “Why won’t she agree?” It’s the same thing. It doesn’t matter. You cannot make someone be reasonable. And you cannot make someone agree to something.
Finally, if you possibly can (and time and expense often seem to prevent this), get your children into therapy as you go through the divorce. Their feelings often go unexpressed and unattended but they can be just as profound as yours. Nor have they reached your development level, so they are less equipped than you to deal with the situation.
Eileen Hall is a lawyer and represents people in Collaborative Divorces. She is a member of the Denton County Collaborative Professionals. You can reach Eileen at 214-630-1200 or through her website at www.eileenhall.com.