If you have made the decision to separate or divorce, you might think it is too late to go for counselling. However, separation and divorce counselling can give individuals and couples the space they need to process what is happening. The end of a relationship can feel overwhelming. Talking things through with an impartial third party can help you to make sense of your experience, and feel better able to cope with it.
You might have difficult feelings about the separation or divorce, whether it was your decision or not. And you might be concerned about the impact on any children or other family members. Taking the space to think this through can benefit everyone involved, and help you to feel ready to move on.
What is Separation and Divorce Counselling?
If you are going through a separation or divorce, this could be a great time for you to come for therapy, either with your ex-partner or on your own. This can be a difficult time, and you don’t have to go through it alone. You will probably be facing a lot of change, which can present an opportunity for you to reflect on what you have been through and what you want next.
Your goals might include:
Minimising Harm to Everyone Involved
One reason that divorce can be so painful is because of how public it can feel. You might feel like you are being forced to make an announcement that your relationship is over when that is the last thing you want to do. The sense of disappointment, failure, and even shame, can be difficult to face.
Sometimes these emotions can be too strong to face on your own, and often this is when anger takes over. This anger can become destructive if the other feelings involved are not recognised and processed.
The more you can face your hurt and minimise any hostility now, the less bitter the future is likely to be for all involved.
Making Sense of What Has Happened
You might be considering separating or divorcing because you have been arguing a lot, or because of an affair, or sexual problems. Or your relationship might have broken down after a big life change like becoming parents, children leaving home, a bereavement, retirement, or redundancy.
Affairs and frequent arguments are usually symptoms of deeper problems that have been there for some time. It could be that you have had trouble with communication or trust.
You might be confused about what went wrong, and trying to understand why the relationship didn’t work out.
One or both of you might be hoping that you will get back together.
Usually when a couple separates or divorces, at least one of them feels that their needs have not been being met for some time. It can help to make sense of what changed; how your needs were met in the beginning, and when you started getting disappointed.
When you can see things clearly, you can make an informed decision about whether and how to end the relationship.
Gaining Perspective and Closure
Separation and divorce counselling can help you to make sense of what worked for you and what didn’t. If you feel it would be helpful, we can look at the history of the relationship, what drew you together, when it started to go wrong, what was good about it and what was not.
When a relationship ends, you are not under pressure to fix it any more. This can give you a new perspective on it. Coming for counselling together or separately now can help to give you closure, or the sense that the relationship has a clear ending.
Separations and divorces are some of the greatest losses we experience in life. It can be important to mourn both what you have lost, and the future you imagined together.
Finding a Way to Make Changes and Move On
You might have found yourselves in a cycle of blame and anger. Now that the relationship is over, you could take this opportunity to work at being more open and honest.
If you have children, your relationship will be changing rather than ending, as you go from partners to co-parents.
The better you can understand what happened between you, the more likely you are to move on, making the most of your life, rather than carrying the same issues into any new relationships.
It could be that you developed ways of coping with life or relating to others years ago that you brought into the relationship. We can see if we can make sense of these and how they impacted the partnership in both positive and negative ways.
We might discover some patterns that you want to think about changing before you consider starting another relationship.
Ending a long-term relationship or marriage might be one of the hardest things you ever do. It can be really tough to move on, but separation and divorce counselling can help.
Looking to the future, you will probably have new questions. What kind of life do you want to create for yourself now?
It could be that one of you isn’t ready to move on. Maybe one of you doesn’t want this at all. Maybe you just want to find a way to make things work and stay together.
This can be particularly difficult to deal with on your own.
In therapy you can have the space to think about what is happening and what it means to you. You might need to work through some really overwhelming feelings, like anger or guilt.
We can think about what resources you have to help you cope. You might be in shock, and it will probably take some time for you to recover. We can think together about how you will manage in the meantime.
Gradually we can reduce any bitterness between you and find a way forwards, whether that is together or separately.
What To Do Next
Separation and divorce counselling can reduce the stress you are both under. Now you are free from the pressure of trying to save the relationship, we can take an open and honest look together at what happened between you. This can be a rewarding and illuminating experience for both individuals and couples.
You can read more about what we might discuss in separation or divorce counselling, including practical decisions you might be facing, here.
I specialise in helping individuals and couples to understand and improve their relationships. If you are considering separation or divorce counselling and would like to discuss how I might be able to help, you can call me on on 07428 396671 or email me here. You can also join my mailing list here.