Like marriage, divorce is one of life’s toughest transitions. Despite its prevalence, divorce is extremely painful for all members of the family and even members of each extended family. Almost half of all marriages end in divorce, and one-third of all breakups occur within the first five years of marriage – the time when many couples start having babies and getting their footing in their new roles. The overwhelming amount of legal, emotional and nitty-gritty issues that need to be addressed can be enormous. The idea of creating an entirely new life for yourself and any children involved can feel incapacitating.
It is important to realize that things do get better with the passing of time. In the interim, there are professional divorce counselors that provide valuable advice and support through this process. These therapists have the inside knowledge of the family court systems in their area and the process that is ahead in most divorce cases. They can assist you in learning more about how to resume a fulfilling and successful life during and after divorce, minimize the impact of your divorce on any children you may have, and better understand where the relationship failed so you don’t make the same mistakes again.
Many couples search for marriage counseling in an effort to improve a distressed relationship and try taking all steps possible to avoid divorce. As experts in relationships, therapists can help couples improve their communication and conflict resolution skills. However, if divorce is the chosen solution, there are pre- and post-divorce counseling approaches that can help you, your children and your partner navigate through the painful process.
Pre-Divorce Counseling: This involves a divorce counselor’s intervention prior to the divorce proceedings. The therapist assists both parties in learning to communicate effectively and appropriately during the process. If children are involved, a civil and healthy divorce is imperative. Pre-divorce counseling can assist couples in parenting issues related to the divorce and provide a safe environment for telling children about the impending process.
Post-Divorce Counseling: The break-up of a long-term, committed relationship can trigger some profound emotions of sadness, stress and grief. Life after divorce can feel overwhelming, and for many the uncertainty about the future can sometimes seem worse than the unhappy relationship itself. Couples need strategies on how to navigate the stages of grief and loss, as well as discovering their new potential and creating a new normal for themselves and their children.
Recovering from a divorce is a grieving process with certain stages and steps that need to be acknowledged. It is important you allow yourself time to work through the process and grieve the loss of the relationship, the companionship, the support, and any future plans you had together. This process is not meant to be accomplished alone – friends, family, support groups or a professional divorce counselor are important in the divorce recovery process.
A divorce counselor can:
- Help you understand the stages of loss and grief and how to move through the continuum
- Teach you the necessary coping skills to deal with the emotional pain of divorce
- Provide a forum for the entire family to receive counseling and support in a safe environment
- Help you understand the reason the relationship failed and prevent future relationship problems
As time goes on, the pain will become a little less pronounced and emotionally you will start to put one foot in front of the other. It is important to remember that this is a process, one that involves grief and loss. It involves drastic changes for not only the couple and their children, but changes for extended family, friends and others. There is light at the end and there will be a new normal. Seek the help and support you need.
Jennifer Webbe VanLuven, MSW, LCSW, CDM
received her Master of Social Work from Saint Louis University with a concentration in family systems and law. Jennifer provides private therapy dealing with adult issues, depression, anxiety, marital and relationship issues, as well as adolescent development/ behavioral issues.
Jennifer has extensive experience in family law and court room testifying. She assists couples in a peaceful resolution, where continued communication is imperative for raising healthy children. Along with private therapy services, Jennifer provides services to families who are in the midst of transition, as a Parent Coordinator, Co-Parent Counselor, Custody Evaluator and a Divorce Consultant.