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Monday, April 8, 2019

Post Divorce Therapy For The Sake Of The Kids


When people hear about couples' counseling, they usually think about couples that are trying to make their relationship work but are struggling, and that the goal of such counseling is to save the marriage or relationship and that if one decides to get divorced it is a failure. In recent posts I already knocked that notion, that divorcing isn't a failure and counseling doesn't fail if divorce is what ended up happening.

But what most people don't consider is that even once you decide to get divorced, joint therapy is still often a good idea.
If you are childless, or at least don't share a child with the spouse you're divorcing, you can often say goodbye and never see each other again. But if there are children in the picture, even once you divorce, you'll still likely be in each other's lives for a very long time.
For this reason, divorce counseling and post divorce counseling is something that is becoming more and more popular, and for good reason.

What exactly is divorce counseling, and how does it work?



Well, I can't tell you an official answer, but just explain based on my experience and those of people with whom I've spoken.

Divorce, even in the best of scenarios, brings up a lot of emotions, many of them negative. Tension that existed during the marriage can often be exacerbated during and after the divorce process. Because of this, it can be really difficult to communicate effectively, and the people who end up hurting the most are the children.

I've been fortunate enough to be able to take my children to therapy with a woman who works as a family therapist, with the specific goal of helping our children; she sees the children individually, and sees both myself and the kids' dad separately, instructing us how to best help and parent our children during this process. One thing she told us is that for the emotional wellbeing of our children, it is imperative that we be able to communicate effectively to each other, specifically about the children. In many cases when parents aren't able to communicate effectively with each other, they end up sending messages to the other through their children, and having your child be the middleman ends up really hurting them emotionally. Not only that, tension between the parents about the children ends up hurting the kids emotionally, subconsciously, or consciously, even if you don't use them as the middleman.

So how does post divorce counseling actually work, and how does it differ from marriage counseling? As in, if marriage counseling fails, how can divorce counseling work?

At least with us, the divorce counseling specifically is about things relating to the children. Nothing else. That is the biggest difference between divorce counseling and marriage counseling. With marriage counseling, there are so many feelings involved, talking about unmet expectations and things the other is doing that is bothering you, what you want changed, etc. These are all very emotionally loaded topics, which can easily devolve, and make you realize that your marriage counseling is causing more harm than good.
With post marriage counseling, you're literally discussing bare bones "what to do about the kids", and the therapist's job is to help guide you to be able to do that without it devolving. I'll admit, the first few times we did meet, it didn't go so well, but with practice, we were able to discuss the kids and what we're doing with them, without anyone getting upset, and with effectively being able to get results. We've even managed to be able to continue that communication outside of the therapy room.

Of course, to do this, you need to have two parents that, even if they don't want to be married to each other, and even if they detest each other, want the best for their children. You need two people to be willing to work together for this. And for that reason, I'm grateful that my kids' dad also has their best interest in mind.

(Does that mean that everything is fine and dandy between me and him? Absolutely not, there's a reason we're getting divorced. But at least we're trying to do it in a way that isn't hurting the kids.)

If you're going through divorce, or are already divorced, and you have kids, strongly consider post divorce counseling for the sake of your kids. Highly recommended.

Have you gone through divorce? Ever hear of post divorce counseling? Did you do it? If not, do you think it could have helped things?

See my disclaimer.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a child of divorce and my parents hated each other for many years. It was horrible as a kid. I'm glad you're doing this! Ironically, as an adult now, my parents have made peace with each other and actually get along well. It's been really nice for me and my siblings. They didn't do so well as parents but they are wonderful as co-grandparents.

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