Divorce counselling and mediation
I provide divorce counselling and mediation. I also provide counselling for young people, individuals, couples and families who are going through divorce and separation.
I met with a person who was recently divorced. She told me felt she was worried she was not doing the right thing by her family and her children. This is her story which she is pleased for me to anonymously relate.
She and her ex-husband had met when they were both young. They had settled down together quickly and had had three beautiful children before either of them were in their thirties.
As time passed they found that what they had wanted when they were young was not what they each, as individuals, wanted in their middle age. Over the course of five years long standing disagreements and arguments had taken hold and a distance had subtly but definitely come between her and her husband.
In spite of numerous attempts at reconciliation they found that they were unable to come together on how to stay together. It had also come to their attention that their three children had been pulled into their discontentment and splits and divisions within their family unit of five were seen by them and other family members.
Divorce was not a course of action either her or her husband ever thought they would peruse but gradually, reluctantly, the truth dawned on them they had to separate in order for all of them to be free of the difficult relationship her and her ex-husband were experiencing. She related that the hardest part of this journey was telling their teenage children that their mum and dad had decided to permanently.
These events had happened eighteen months before we met. She was now divorced. They sold the family house and each of them had bought a smaller home. They had been careful not to live too far away from each other so the children would still be able to move between each of them easily and they had been careful to each buy a house that their children would be comfortable in.
After an initial settling in period she was pleased to find that she got on better now with her ex-husband than she had done for a long time. Neither of them wanted to rekindle their old relationship, indeed there was relief on both sides that they had separated, however she found that she was able to co-parent her children with her ex-husband in a far more satisfactorily way than she had been able to in recent years when they had been living together.
And now we arrive at her dilemma.
Her family and friends had clear expectations of how she should behave with the father of her children and she was not living up to these rules which included not being friendly with him, having strict contact arrangements, being suspicious of who he introduced to the children and otherwise generally taking a mildly oppositional tack with him at every opportunity.
We saw that her children were settling into their new arrangements as well as could be expected. We saw that she and her ex-husband were able to tell the other when matters arose that needed clarification from the other and we saw that each of them was able to challenge decisions about the children that the other had made, if they needed to, in a sensible and robust fashion without either resorting to the kind of arguments and disagreements that had caused them to separate.
As we spoke it became clear that their divorce had been as successful as it could be in terms of how each now related to the other and that inventing the terms of their separation was their right and privilege.
At the end of our time together we agreed that the only rule that applies in divorce where children are concerned is that each parent takes full responsibility for their behaviour and role in helping their children through this difficult time.
If you have found this blog useful and would like to discuss the matter further, why not get in contact with me and we can speak about how counselling can help you.