How many suicides, murder/suicides, beatings and mysterious disappearances will it take to recognize that individuals whose marriages are failing and who are facing separation/divorce desperately need emotional support?
After being on vacation for a week only to return home to lose power for a week as a result of Hurricane Irene, I was saddened to hear about the recent suicide of Russell Armstrong when I eventually turned back on the TV and news.
My laundry folding routine consists of turning on the latest Real Housewives episodes to make the time fly while doing my most dreaded household task. I watched last year as Taylor Armstrong, of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills", struggled in her unhappy marriage; turning to her untrained and highly opinionated best friends for guidance and advice as to how to manage the demise of her relationship. It was clear that both she, and her husband, desperately needed professional support but whether they did or did not get support and how that support guided their separation was never aired.
While the Armstrongs did not represent what is "real" for most Americans, their situation is not uncommon. Whether the latest Housewife, the mysterious disappearance of a child or yet another murder suicide, it appears to me as though ending a marriage is now viewed as "no big deal". A few conversations with girlfriends, a choice to leave and then, I don't want to be in this marriage anymore so let's just deal with it and move on.
This time, however, it all played out on national TV, exacerbating an already painful experience. And while Taylor and her husband may have been on a highly rated reality show, many men and women are putting their personal, intimate relationship struggles on facebook or blogs where the world can watch as they, and their children, suffer through the pain of this loss.
Not only do most marriages end without a decent, respectful, honest and "strategic" conversation, but the transition from "we" to "me" is often unplanned, abrupt and initiated by one person, leaving no time for both spouses to process and regroup.
The result is that lawyers are hired, decisions made, and agreements signed before either person really understands or acknowledges the significance of the transition. By the time the dust settles, heartbreak, loss, pain and suffering explode all over the place, the consequences of which hurt friends, families, children, job performance and many times, each other.
The emotional toll of a marriage/relationship deteriorating, the decision to separate and the process and negotiation of divorce is tremendous. Having been there myself, I know that it is impossible to go through it alone.
While friends and family are "there" for you and love you, they are not skilled or trained in how to support someone going through divorce. And while a lawyer is well educated and experienced in the legal process of separation and divorce, they are most often also untrained and unskilled at managing the emotional journey of divorce.
Not only are individuals going through divorce managing one of the three most stressful and significant transitions in life, but they are being asked to make decisions that will impact their future while in their most emotionally depleted state.
It is during this time that getting professional support is most crucial.
Are you or someone you know separated or divorced and in need of emotional support? What do you think it would take to get them the help?