Divorce can change everything in your life. When a marriage ends suddenly, or when divorce conflict is high, the emotional fallout from the process can keep you from moving on in a healthy way. Many men and women feel shame around getting divorced, but there is no reason to suffer alone. Using short-term therapy for divorce can help make the transition easier.
Post-Divorce Therapy Helps Both Men and Women
In Western culture, women are far more likely to work with a therapist than men. For many men, being “emotional” is seen as weakness. This can create a stigma against using tools like short-term therapy to overcome life’s obstacles.
But this doesn’t mean that husbands are any less likely to struggle with post-divorce emotions than their ex-wives. In fact, one study by the American Sociological Association shows that women initiate almost 70% of all divorces. That means men are more often faced with an unexpected end to their relationship, and that can lead to a harder emotional transition.
Whether you decide to file for divorce yourself, or your spouse serves you with divorce papers, the months, and sometimes years, it takes to go through the divorce process can be some of the hardest in your adult life. Having a therapist to support you during this period you can help you protect your mental health. This will make the transition from married to single easier for you, and your family.
How Short-Term Therapy Helps People Facing Divorce
For many people, divorce is a grieving process. You may mourn the loss of:
- A companion (even one you have not gotten along well with recently)
- A stable home
- Comfortable family relationships
- A familiar routine
Therapy can help you work through this period of mourning and allow you to define what life after divorce will look like. By working with your therapist to set goals and weigh options, you can take control, even when it seems like everything is waiting for a judge to make a decision.
You may also find that you blame yourself for the end of your relationship. Working with a therapist can help you objectively identify the causes of your divorce, make peace with anything outside of your control, and learn healthier choices for future relationships. If your spouse’s behavior was abusive or inappropriate, a divorce therapist can also help you separate your own mental health and self-worth from your spouse’s behaviors.
Could Therapy Make Your Divorce Easier?
You don’t have to wait until the divorce has begun to start working with a therapist. Couples counseling is traditionally used to avoid divorce. However, if you, your spouse, and your therapist agree that the healthiest choice is to end your marriage, continuing that counseling can help. As you work toward separation, your therapist can help you avoid villainizing your spouse or responding to requests while overcome with emotions. By continuing divorce therapy, you and your spouse may be able to resolve many of the issues that would otherwise go to court, saving you the time, expense, and aggravation of a lengthy court battle.
Post-divorce therapy is especially helpful if you and your ex-spouse have children together. Co-parenting is the process of working with a former spouse or partner to make decisions and raise your children. If you have not resolved the emotions caused by your divorce, co-parenting can be emotionally challenging and full of conflict. However, working with your therapist to unpack and resolve your emotional responses to your co-parent’s choices can help you treat that former spouse as a partner in the joint venture of raising healthy children.
When to Get Help from a Therapist
Not every person going through a divorce needs to work with a psychotherapist. However, you may benefit from reaching out if your divorce:
- Is high-conflict
- Leaves you feeling lonely, guilty, angry, or upset
- Involves ongoing contact with your ex-spouse (such as coparenting)
- Is preventing you from focusing on your work
- Triggers existing mental-health concerns
If you recognize that your mental health is suffering because of your divorce, a short period of therapy can help you right the ship and chart a course for a happier and healthier life as a single adult.
David Stanislaw is a psychotherapist with over 30 years of experience. He helps adults and couples with life changes like divorce and grief through short-term therapy or ongoing counseling. Contact David Stanislaw to get help today.