You and your partner have been arguing for years. The same challenges and issues recur repeatedly without resolution. When you try to talk about these, you interrupt and blame each other which only makes matters worse.
There are many challenges, inclusive of:
- Differences around saving money and spending money: You want to save more for the future and establish financial security while your partner enjoys spending money and wants to enjoy the money in the present.
- Sexual differences: You need emotional intimacy in order to have sex yet as you feel withdrawn, unsupported, unheard, and uncared. You don’t have had any interest in sex for years but your partner wants to have sex much more often than you do and attempts to use sex as a way to be close to you.
- Issues with parenting: Your parenting styles are also quite different, with you being much more liberal, patient, and understanding. Your partner is more inclined to use strict discipline, re-creating the environment that they were raised in.
- Issues of trust, or more accurately, mistrust: You both came into the relationship with trust issues having been raised in environments where there were numerous betrayals and violations of boundaries.
What you’ve done so far…
You have read books on how to improve your relationship and have gone to relationship seminars. You’ve invited your partner to the seminars and to read the books with them but they are always offering a firm response that they are not interested in these. And in some of their angrier and disparaging moments, they’ve characterized your interests and endeavors as a bunch of hokey, New Age crap. Other times they’ve belittled you for your interest in self-exploration, self-growth, and spirituality. You have tried marital therapy a couple of times. Both times this was short-lived with each of you withdrawing soon after you began the process.
You both cited time constraints, financial concerns, and dislike of the therapist as reasons to cease the process.
Why it didn’t work
In actuality, it was likely due to fear of you needing to look at your weaknesses, at your part in the marital problems and conflicts, at your fears of intimacy and at the chasm of your wants and needs.
I’ve seen many people drop out of counseling citing the reasons that you two have used it believing it was really due to their fears. This is understandable as counseling, in order for it to be of value, takes work and commitment, and can be uncomfortable.
As painful as things have been through the years they have gotten progressively worse and now are at a level where they are just about intolerable. The arguing has increased in both frequency and volatility. There is more cursing and name-calling. There’ve been some incidents where things have been thrown, where you’ve shoved one another and threatened one another.
Your two children are becoming increasingly affected by the arguing, the volatility, and the overall enmity that pervades the home. Your son is acting out more in school bullying the other students while your daughter has become more anxious, uncommunicative, and withdrawn. Her grades have been falling as well.
One thing that you and your partner agree upon is that you are truly hurting one another along with hurting your children. You want the intense pain to stop, both for yourselves and your children. You are in agreement that you want the marriage to end and that you want to get a divorce.
What you’re asking yourself
You’re wondering how to end the marriage and with some semblance of respect, self-esteem, and amicability.
You’re wondering whether a therapist might help you to do so, even as previous efforts at counseling have not served you well.
You’re wondering whether there is even such a thing as divorce counseling.
Yes, there is.
Role of a divorce counselor
- Help you to divide your belongings and assets
- Help you to discuss child custody and sharing of parental responsibilities
- Guide and support you with how to share your decision with your children
- Offer you the opportunity to bring your children in for some sessions so that you can all discuss your pain and fears regarding the break-up of your family and the uncertainty of what lies ahead
- Discuss your regrets and remorse about hopes, plans and longings being unfulfilled and coming to an end
- Lay a foundation for future interactions being done with respect and cooperation, given that you are linked together for life by your two children
- Make the divorce process much more affordable than paying more expensive lawyers over a lengthy, drawn-out and acrimonious process
- Model for your children that help is available
- Lay a foundation for cooperative co-parenting
- Provide assurance for your kids that you are attempting to work together and that you have their safety in mind
No matter how you experience it and even if it is for the best, divorcing is a painful process. Your marriage, once filled with love, support, hope, certainty, and dreams, is coming to an end.
As noted above divorce counseling has many benefits and can make a very painful process easier. It will also increase the probability that you keep your problems between the two of you and that your children will not be asked to choose sides or be caught in a crossfire of your conflict. This is extremely important for their well-being.