Okay, I didn’t actually facilitate the survey, but if I did the statistics would probably be higher. Every mental health professional I have ever spoken to about this topic agrees: If you are going to get divorced, do it in a way that isn’t going to destroy who you are, and who your kids are.
People choose to litigate because they can’t fathom the idea of coming together to come apart . . . or because they don’t know their options.
Sometimes people will call my office and say, “Well, I don’t know if my spouse will be willing to mediate.”
Well, why wouldn’t they find out if mediation or Collaborative Divorce is an option for them?
One reason may be because it’s an idea the other spouse suggested. If two people are getting divorced and one says, “Let’s get divorced, but let’s use mediation or collaborative law,” the other might say, “No, I don’t want to do anything you say. Why would I do that? You’re not going to control me.” It’s a human response and a natural one.
Mental health professionals understand the value of parting in a way that makes sense, valuing emotional and psychological well-being above all else. They recommend finding a way to have a coming-apart conversation in a healthy way, rather than in a threatening, competitive, forced method that will likely damage both the participants and their children and possibly leave them feeling bitter and resentful for years to come.
Even when couples divorce amicably, it is still painful, sad, difficult and challenging. Sometimes one spouse has had it, but the other wants to work on the marriage rather than divorce. It can feel unfair if that person’s life was torn apart through no choice of their own.
The person wanting to work on the marriage – believing the marriage was still okay – can get really angry.
- “I have to leave my home.”
- “I have to go back to work.”
- “I have to move or downsize.”
- “I have to drive a Chevy instead of a Land Rover.”
Sometimes it can feel like defining elements of their lives are being whisked away through no choice of their own. Everyone knows that divorce can bring up the most primitive of emotions.
And yet, it is much better for people to try to find the place in themselves that can be called the high road – some sort of place of centeredness from which to make decisions – rather than just act out of these harsh emotions. Why? Because, perhaps ironically, it is much better for their own sense of control and ultimate happiness if they do.