No one plans on leaving a marriage when they get married Every partner has dreams and a heart full of love for the other as one walks down the aisle, promising eternal love.
And then life gets in the way.
- The shine comes off the marriage, as she doesn't shave her legs every day and gains a few pounds. He emits air in not-so-polite ways and she catches him staring at a beauty in the mall
- Pressures mount, as bills pile up, work demands more time, and children take the focus away from the marriage onto helpless, needy, adorable little beings (who spend their time stressing you out when you're not overwhelmed by love for'em)
- People say things that hurt.
- and someone responds back in anger with a retort that is designed to hurt even more
- One argument isn't even finished before another one starts
- Someone does something that sticks a knife into the heart
- and then does something else that feels like it twists the knife.
- Days go by without one speaking to the other for more than the most perfunctory purposes. Tension is high
...and you begin to know that this is not what you signed up for when you got married.
Leaving a marriage is a significant act. Nobody plans to leave their spouse on their wedding day, and yet statistically, a significant number do. When families with children blend their households, taking a second chance on love, the stresses are yet higher, and the failure rate higher than first marriages.
Isolation in our culture...people working to resolve issues on their own when the marriage isn't working, creates spouses who spin in dysfunctional cycles that over time spin deeper and uglier. Couples can separate and divorce without anyone else knowing before the end of the marriage that there was a problem in the relationship.
Evidence in research says that up to one third of couples who go through divorce reconsider their decision within six months of initiating the legal process...but, often by then, "bridges have been burned" and it's too late to reconsider.
The end of a marriage is significant. It is traumatic for the one who is being left behind, for the one leaving the marriage. When you leave the marriage, you take "you" with you...often people that leave a dysfunctional relationship find themselves quickly in another relationship, because they participate in creating the same nasty cycles (not because they want to, but because they don't realize their role in the cycle). The end of a marriage is difficult for the children of the marriage. Yes, children are resilient, and with much support can survive parental divorce, but it is far less than ideal for a child to have two parents who live in separate homes. (It is also destructive for children to live in a conflicted, tension-filled house with two parents who have the same mailing address but can't stand each other)
There are couples who come to see us to process the decision of separation. This is often referred to as "Discernment Counselling". That is, they are not coming to us because they know they want to repair the relationship and do traditional "marriage counselling". The couple comes because one or both of them are seriously considering ending the relationship, but are wanting to take a sober second look at what it is they would be losing in ending the relationship. It's important to examine the relationship to determine if something worthwhile and valuable could rise up out of the ashes of an old marriage that wasn't working. That happens by creating a new marriage that isn't caught up in ugly cycles of:
- blame and defensiveness
- guilt and shame
- pursuit and withdrawal
- loud fights followed by "silent treatment"
This work respects the couple's ambivalence. It explores in a respecting and kind way whether the marriage best continue in the direction of dissolution or allows a new, healthier one to emerge that will be respectful and loving. Sometimes, we explore a Marriage Come, a controlled separation with a couple as one creative and playful option to change it up to explore other ways of relating to each other. It would then look to repair some of the wounds that were created during the time of crisis.
This service does not provide legal advice, or make recommendations. It simply provides a neutral venue with a skilled facilitator to explore the issues in a way that reduces some of the hostility and tension...allowing for a more effective and well-thought out decision to be made. The therapist can help people explain what is underneath the anger and resentment to allow for more effective conversation.