Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Surviving Emotionally

In most divorces, one partner wants to leave and goes through the effort to move out and file for divorce, while the other partner does not want and resist the divorce. Regardless of what the person who instigated the divorce wants, how does the person left alone cope with the sudden, and often unexpected, loss of the companion to whom
she or he still feels committed?

Not having a partner to “check in with” at the end of each day can be devastating to the partner who is left behind. Although the quality or quantity of personal interactions may have deteriorated in the months or even years leading up to the divorce, the partner who is left may have prized them over having no interaction with any significant other at all.

Married people of both genders are often used to venting their emotions about bad days at work, problems with the children, and other issues to their spouses. But when one partner leaves the other, the “left behind” individual finds that the person who used to listen to their problems is the cause and focus of them. To make matters worse, they no longer have a helpmate for coping with divorce.

Starting over during a separation and after a divorce is not just about setting up separate households; it is about finding a new person to fill the gap left by the partner who exited the marriage. Frequently, people rush into relationships in an effort to fill this empty hole in their lives. But this role doesn’t have to be filled with a romantic partner, and often that is not the best course of action. Family and friends, while they may have to take turns if contact is needed on a daily basis, can be a better source of companionship for the newly separated and divorced than a new significant other selected for the sake of convenience.

For those who still feel an emptiness in their lives or whose family and friends don’t rise to the occasion, regular sessions with a professional divorce counselor can help recently separated and divorced individuals solve short-term problems, as well as develop long-term plans for securing a healthy future. Divorce counseling also offers an objective perspective that can be invaluable to individuals struggling with very personal feelings of rejection over being left.

Whatever the outlet, newly divorced and separated people who did not want their marriages to end should seek healthy emotional support during divorce. The struggle to cope with daily existence when the support of a significant other has been withdrawn cannot be overestimated and should not be ignored.

By Dr. Deborah Hecker

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