Why do some couples weather the divorce process relatively smoothly and simply, and others get caught in a violent cycle of emotional legal proceedings? Here are some of my thoughts on the never-ending divorce.
Divorce is an intimidating legal process. It can be a humbling religious process. It is also an emotionally devastating process, often leaving psychological scars that never heal. Studies have identified the three most traumatic experiences within a person's lifetime, the death of a child, the death of a spouse in an intact marriage, and a divorce. Divorces are traumatic, emotionally, economically, and spiritually.
The first situation is one where both spouses are ready to end the marriage, both legally and psychologically. In this case, it is just a matter of sitting down, filing some paperwork, and going through a very simple process with little or no court intervention.
The next is where one spouse has moved on and the other has not or is unwilling to let go emotionally. These situations will produce fireworks, name calling, often numerous court appearances and psychological damage to both spouses and their children. Once the other spouse is willing to let go, then the battles end and people move on with their lives.
The third and worst can lead to what I call the "never ending divorce." This is where one or both spouses cannot move on either because of emotional problems, addictions, bitterness, and anger which keep the divorce going on forever. Long after the divorce has been legally finalized, battles will continue for years. Issues involving child support, parenting time, custody, alimony, enforcement of the property settlement, allegations of fraud, and parental alienation will keep the battleground going forever. The never ending divorce is the one that attorneys and judges dread. The bitter conflict goes on and on, continuing to destroy lives, dreams and progress. The biggest victims, of course, are the children.
Refuse to participate in a never ending divorce. I urge anyone going through a divorce to build a life-sustaining support system. Engage in counseling with a therapist specializing in divorce. Therapy identifies whether the marriage can be saved, helps build and improve self-esteem, and identifies psychological weaknesses which may be sabotaging you where you make the same mistakes over and over again. Try to move forward, and always remember that no matter how painful your divorce is to you, it is that much more painful to your children. As we celebrate a new year and a new decade, try not to have your divorce be a never ending one. Do whatever you can to avoid it.