Marriage and Divorce
Marriage and divorce are common experiences that touch all of our lives. Healthy marriages are great for our mental and physical health as well as the health of growing children. However, “about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce”. Therefore, if you are considering divorce, it is helpful to also know what makes a healthy divorce. By understanding both a healthy marriage and healthy divorce, you may be better able to choose your next steps more rationally. Neither marriage or divorce should be entered into lightly. It is best to have a good understanding of how to have a healthy relationship with either.
What does a healthy marriage look like?
The exact formula for a healthy marriage varies from couple to couple. However, for a truly healthy marriage there are some commonalities for any couple.
A healthy marriage includes:
In a healthy marriage, the spouses are committed to each other. This means that they are dedicated to the relationship for the long-term and, therefore, devote time and effort to the relationship.
Clear communication helps couples to have a healthy relationship by making needs and desires clear. With good communication couples can better solve their problems and avoid many as well.
Lack of Violence and Abuse
Healthy marriages are void of mistreatment. Spouses refrain from using negative language in reference to the other. In addition, the relationship is free from verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse towards each other and any children.
In a long-term relationship, roles, identities, and finances are bound to change. Healthy couples know how to remain flexible and work with life’s changes.
This includes both spiritual and physical intimacy. It is great to have a shared spiritual foundation as well as a healthy physical relationship with your spouse.
Being selfless in a marriage means nourishing your spouse, cherishing them, and understanding that you are a team. This involves commitment, patience, openness, and understanding.
Patience and Forgiveness
No one is perfect and over the course of a marriage mistakes are bound to be made. In a healthy marriage, spouses are able to admit when they are wrong and make amends without a thought of revenge or keeping score.
Honesty and Trust
Developing and maintaining honesty and trust starts from day one and continues to build over time. It is not easy to rebuild when it is broken, but it can be done with hard work.
How can a therapist help?
Throughout the stages of life couples have to adapt and overcome many hurdles. These hurdles could be being newly married, raising kids, developing careers, or retiring. Seeking therapy doesn’t always mean that there is a problem with the relationship, but that it has changed and needs new tools to be successful. Therapy helps us to check in and reengage with our relationship as well as learn the tools we need to deal with life’s many challenges.
What does a healthy divorce look like?
Divorce is a tough time for any couple, especially when children are involved. However, there are some things to keep in mind during a divorce to make the process smoother and easier on everyone.
A healthy divorce includes:
Keep in mind that going through a divorce does not have to be combative. Many spouses going through divorce experience a wide array of emotions ranging from anger to grief to anxiety. However, try to manage your emotions, setting aside any negative feelings. For example, make requests instead of demands.
If you do not have a specific reason to contact your ex during this process, don’t. A spouse may feel the need to bring up the past, thinking how the marriage started and how it got to this ending point. However, it is best to communicate in the present tense and avoid emotional language in order to make the divorce as smooth as possible.
Care of Yourself
Especially if you have children, it can be easy to neglect yourself when going through a divorce. You may be worrying about how everyone else is doing instead of taking care of yourself. Try to set aside time for yourself to relax, reflect, and heal.
Finding a support group, whether it is friends and family or a divorce specific support group, can do wonders for the process. It is best not to bottle up your emotions, but instead find healthy and safe places to express them.
Taking it Slow
You may want to get the divorce over as quick as possible. However, rushing through the process can lead to rash decisions. Take it slow and find out the right way to move forward for you and your family.
How can a therapist help?
Spouses who are divorcing as well as their children can benefit from therapy. Therapy allows all parties a safe place to vent and work through their feelings in a healthy way. You may not always know what the right thing to do is. A therapist can help you to adjust as things change and avoid a negative outcome. Therapy can also help you to revisit your relationship and give you the tools to invest in a more positive one in the future.
Is divorce the answer?
When contemplating divorce, consider the following:
- Does your spouse know you are unhappy and why?
- Do you each have a clear understanding about what you both expect from the relationship?
- What is your biggest fear in ending the marriage?
- If you have children, how will you handle it?
- Have you done everything you can to save your marriage?
- Are you legally and financially prepared for divorce?
- Is this a bad phase or a bad marriage?
- Do you still have feelings for your spouse?
- What is your ideal outcome?
How can a therapist help?
If you are considering divorce but not sure if it is right for you, it is a good idea to consider marriage counseling or solo counseling. A therapist can help you to resolve your issues or help you figure out how to move forward.
Marriage troubles? Considering divorce?