Therapy Before A Divorce: Beyond Saving The Marriage

therapy before a divorce beyond saving the marriageDivorce is never an easy path, but working with an experienced therapist can certainly ease the way forward into a healthy and more sustainable relational life. 

The combination of family therapy before and during a divorce, along with the skilled facilitation of a divorce mediator, can truly transform the way both parties move through the divorce proceedings.

5 Reasons To Seek Therapy Before A Divorce

People often assume that seeing a therapist before a divorce is about saving the marriage. While this may—and can—be true from time to time, most individuals or couples are sure about their decision by the time they file for divorce.

Even so, I always recommend that they visit a therapist of some kind before, during, and immediately after the proceedings. Here’s why:

Facilitate the smoothest way forward

Nobody benefits from a contentious divorce. In addition to being incredibly expensive, drawn-out divorces, which are often more about ego than they are about finding the fairest way to separate and begin a new life, are hard on everyone.

Your therapist can help you both process individual emotions – including anger, stress, betrayal, stress, etc. – while also helping you both learn to communicate respectfully and decide the best way forward with the least amount of time, energy, and money wasted.

Ensure your children have the support they need

Children are innocent bystanders in a divorce. The statistics are very clear that children whose parents are divorced are at higher risk for depression, anxiety, lack of self-esteem, and trouble in the classroom

Most therapists will tell you that it takes at least four sessions for most clients (of any age) to be comfortable sharing the good, the bad, and the embarrassing with them. One or two sessions are not enough to determine how your child is faring, especially if your child is more introverted by nature or is in the tween/teen phase. By continuing to see a therapist week after week, you allow your child to slowly build trust and rapport with the therapist. Over time, children will feel more comfortable sharing how they are genuinely doing, which can provide invaluable insight into how to continue moving forward as a co-parenting family (more on that next).

The ramifications of divorce last for years. While this doesn’t mean your child needs to be in therapy for years, longer is better than shorter when it comes to children feeling comfortable expressing their feelings and finding the personalized tools that help them process intense emotions as they come up.

Parents benefit from therapy too

I recommend seeing the same therapist individually and with your child (from time to time). The better the therapist gets a feel for each family member and hears their story, the better they can help your family in the long run when it comes to problem-solving and co-parenting agreements – as well as how to handle big family issues when they come up.

Establish healthy co-parenting from the start with therapy before a divorce

Even if you live in the same house during the divorce, co-parenting begins as soon as the divorce is officially in motion. Cooperative co-parenting and communication are essential to your children’s resilience and well-being. 

The research is clear that children thrive faster and with greater confidence when their divorced parents:

  • Never badmouth one another to the children.
  • Resist the urge to be “the better parent” and encourage their child’s relationship with the other parent.
  • Adhere to the co-parenting and family agreements.
  • Accept that parenting styles may be different and focus on the shared agreements instead.
  • Be flexible within reason; your child custody/visitation agreement is a guide, but important and unexpected events are part of life. 
  • Do your best to support your ex’s future partners so your children can feel more at home in their presence. This is not a competition.

I could go on and on, but these, as well as other tenets of good parenting and co-parenting, are all part of what your family therapist will help you iron out and uphold.

Remember, co-parenting agreements are living documents that evolve and change with the situation. Your therapist will be there for you as needed through the coming years of raising children and young adults together.

Your personal well-being 

You know the adage about “putting your oxygen mask on first” before helping someone else. The more depleted, drained, stressed, or angry you are, the harder it will be for you to take the high road during the divorce and afterward. 

Keep in mind that although “your divorce may be over,” there is far more to it than that. There is plenty to do after a divorce is finalized in terms of separating the accounts, rebuilding a home and routine, and honoring all of the things stated in the divorce agreement. In the meantime, you’ll be working through the grief associated with the end of the marriage and the family unit you’ve built together. 

By taking care of yourself and working with a trusted therapist, you’ll learn how to work through the powerful emotions that are guaranteed to arise from time to time in a functional way that doesn’t harm your children. 

The Law Offices of Gerard A. Falzone Support Mediated & Collaborative Divorce

Divorces don’t have to be the dark, contentious, and dramatic horror shows modeled for us by television and the modern media. Using divorce mediation and collaborative divorce models, the Law Offices of Gerard A. Falzone have provided safe and comfortable spaces for both parties to review the facts and where legal disputes can be discussed – and hopefully resolved – to both parties’ satisfaction. 

I can also provide referrals to some of the area’s most admired family therapists, who can partner with you further to keep everyone as emotionally whole as possible through this challenging time. Contact my office to schedule a consultation and learn more about how I can help with therapy before a divorce.