We hope that we are able to help you. In this section we discuss things for you to consider before divorce. Perhaps you could save your marriage? We look at your emotions and ways of dealing with them. Our Further help section has sources of support including counselling, therapy, recovery courses, divorce videos, holidays and helplines.
Thinking about divorce?
Sometimes you realise that you are drifting aimlessly through your marriage. Your big dream doesn't look as though it is going to come true. Day to day patterns of behaviour take over: work, domestic routine and perhaps children's activities deflect from your personal need to be valued and recognised. Maybe your spouse no longer makes you feel loved and there's no feeling that it will get better. Are you heading for more unpleasant rows, money worries or just indifference? Indifference can be the most cruel thing of all to deal with. Money worries are so common but seeking advice and working together in an honest partnership could help you to save your marriage.
Is there another crisis in your life?
This could be redundancy, family bereavement, sudden or chronic illness, debt as previously mentioned, or feeling as if you are growing older but unable to direct your life. You could be feeling trapped and unable to communicate your feelings. You could be suffering from depression. In turn, your spouse could believe that these negative signals are their fault and therefore withdraws from closer intimacy. A downward spiral begins. Sexual intimacy could then be affected. You then probably look elsewhere for affection and, if and when this is reciprocated, you think you have solved all your problems.
What can you do?
There are many sources of support to help you with your problems and we look at many of them In this section. Heading straight for divorce could increase your problems. If you think that you had communication problems in your marriage, you can multiply these a hundred-fold if you suddenly decide to divorce without trying to find a way forward in your relationship. A better way of moving forwards is to reach out and ask for help. In everyday life, you continually seek out professional help from experts. If you need a mortgage, you take expert financial advice. When your marriage is in trouble, what do you do? Well, most of us just muddle along, burying our heads in the sand and hoping that things will somehow get better. But seeking out a professional counsellor or other support could be of enormous help even if the marriage cannot be salvaged.
Who can help?
We value our relationships and family so highly that when things do go wrong, we do not know who to turn to. Close friends and family are all emotionally involved and despite their best intentions, usually do take sides. When you are riding an emotional rollercoaster and feel that you need some support, you need to know that you can depend upon a professional counsellor who is trained to listen and help you find your way out of this crisis. A professional counsellor can take a more detached point of view and provide a platform for you and your partner to share your feelings and find a way to move on. Divorce or separation is not always the best answer, with the exception of domestic violence or abuse, and we are sure that recent media coverage may have made you more aware of some issues.
Would counselling help?
A counsellor could assist you whether you attend alone, as a couple or a family. Advice may also given about sexual problems. This way, you can see if the marriage can be saved and if not, you could continue with counselling even if you both decide that the marriage cannot be saved. Why continue with counselling if the marriage is about to end? Well, divorce does bring many problems particularly for the children, but it is the way you divorce which can do most harm to families. Lack of trust and a failure to communicate could lead you to the doors of the court. Attempting to work things out through counselling or mediation could lead to better family decisions and long-term relationships. Going to court should in normal circumstances be considered a last resort. We discuss counselling and other help in our Further help section.
Do you still want a divorce?
This is a life-changing event for all concerned and not just for the couple concerned. It affects children, grandparents, other relatives and friends. The consequences can be enormous and the whole process of divorce should not be entered into lightly nor at speed unless domestic violence is an issue or assets are at risk. (There are articles on domestic abuse in our Parents and Legal sections.) You may think that as so many people are getting divorced, one more divorce is just a common occurrence. Unless you have witnessed it or experienced it, there is little to prepare you. Timing should also be considered. Do you have children? Are there difficult times ahead in other areas of your family life? Exams? Sick elderly relatives? Think calmly and clearly.
How will you feel?
Divorce can be a relief to some individuals or couples but it can also seem like a bereavement without the associated back-up systems which are evident when a real death occurs. Your spouse could be plunged into emotional and physical despair as it is usually one partner who decides to end the marriage. Some loss is felt by both parties and to some degree you both go through a similar grieving process but unfortunately at different times. Loss is not only emotional but also physical and, of course, financial. Its consequences are also experienced by the whole family, especially siblings, grandparents and close friends. You may know what you are getting out of but do you know what you are getting in to?
How will it affect the children?
At first the divorce is traumatic. Many say that you do not divorce your children but the sad fact is that you really do. Nothing is the same in their lives ever again. Put yourself in their shoes. They would naturally want both parents to continue to live together happily. Unless they have witnessed violence, abuse or destructive rows, the children believe that their family is happy. You cannot separate your unhappiness in the marriage from the happiness of your children. The extent of the trauma inflicted on your children can be reduced by behaving with dignity towards your spouse. If you both co-operate regarding the children, and in the areas of legalities and finances, which also affect them, the emotional stress may be reduced for all concerned. Yes, divorce and its consequences can be devastating but the way you conduct yourself and the way you handle your divorce can have very damaging effects for many years to come for all concerned, especially the children.
How do children cope?
Children do cope and many certainly flourish after divorce but they need to see both parents openly expressing their love for them and reassuring them they will be safe, loved and cared for. This is even more important as they reach adolescence and start to form their own relationships. We have a separate section for Children and one for Teenagers
An important fact in divorce
There can be three sides to divorce: his, hers and the children's. Reflect on this. Step back and carefully consider your options. Think back to your plans for the wedding. How long did it take to arrange? Who looked after the flowers, the clothes, the ceremony, the reception, the stationery, the cake, the guests, the photos, the gifts... Who paid? The list is long and probably the time it took was long too.
If you could only apportion some of this time and cost to the divorce, then there would probably be a huge saving in distress, future family relationships and legal fees.
Are there any books to help?
If you are unsure it could be helpful to read 'Where's Daddy?' by Jill Curtis, our resident psychotherapist and her daughter, Virginia Ellis. This is reviewed in our Books section with many others chosen to assist you. This is a powerful and invaluable book for both mothers and fathers who are facing separation. To remain married 'for the sake of the children' is not a decision to be taken lightly. Parents who are deeply unhappy and unable to resolve their difficulties may create a negatively-charged environment which could be very detrimental for their children. You may wish to look at our Children, Teenagers, Legal and Financial sections to help you reach your decision.
Are the children separate from the divorce itself?
No, they are not separate from other parts of your divorce no matter how much you would like to believe this. Think carefully and plan in a responsible manner. If you have had no choice in this decision and find yourself completely shocked and unable to believe that this is happening to you, please read on. We are here to help and you are not alone.
It is seldom indeed that one parts on good terms; because if one were on good terms, one would not part. Marcel Proust
You may be far from the healing process but this article from
our Divorce Thoughts section may
Message in a bottle
Last night I watched a good, weepy film called 'Message in a bottle.' You may have seen it and, if not, you can guess the subject matter. A divorcee finds a message in a bottle which is written by a man to his lost love. It is moving, sincere and a love letter which many of us would be happy to receive and treasure. I did weep, a good sort of crying - the type which is sad and moving but not for oneself.
It made me remember all the love letters which I had managed to store away after my own divorce and I have been busy searching for them. I'm not too organised and filing is a bit of a pet hate of mine. Anyway, I found some of them and they had got mixed up with a box of court papers. Just one of the many boxes storing these precious gems - court papers, not love letters. Hubby was a passionate man and a lovely, frequent writer particularly when we were in different parts of the world with our jobs.
I suppose it's a measure of how I have moved on. I can read them and
enjoy them for what they were and what they meant to us at the time.
They were indeed declarations of ardent love and adoration. The court
papers though are a more difficult task and can overwhelm me with feelings
of desperate hurt, pain and betrayal.
Back to the love letters. One reads,
'I am sitting up in bed here without you, longing for you. Photos of you are scattered over the bed so that I am covered and surrounded by your image, sweet wife of mine. I adore you and am nothing without you. Each hour apart is like a day and each day, a week. I hear your voice speaking to me wherever I am and smile. People ask if I am ok. I reply that I certainly am. Take care, my love and return home to me. I love you.'
These frequent missives and poems were interspersed with several phone
calls a day. One of the last letters ends, after sixteen years of this
'I miss you very much. I love you and adore you. All my love.'
And then he was gone.
'Hello darkness, my old friend. I've come to talk with you again within
the sound of silence. In restless dreams I walk alone..' Simon and Garfunkel,
The sound of silence.
But I was loved once, called beloved. It was real and should not be forgotten. It is part of me and made me who I am today. The divorce has also played a part in this too. And although he never really spoke to me again after seventeen years together, I shall hold on to the letters and the memories as a reminder of our past love. He has forgotten and moved on to someone new, told her that he had an unhappy marriage, that he was not understood but we both know the truth.
I eagerly look forward to the next phase of my life. I am open to love and trust in the future.