In this article, we will discuss how we adjust to divorce. Greff & Van Der Merwe (2004) developed a 7-factor Resiliency Model that helps predict how well one will react to divorce. One should ensure that these areas help contribute to individual and family stability. The better you each do throughout the process, the easier the family will stabilize through the process.
Divorce and Gender Facts
Women turn to their family and friends for support during and after the divorce process.
Men often turn to women for support. Men remarry sooner after a divorce than women do.
Forgiveness (letting go of the hurt is imperative.) This does not mean that you have to forget.
Taking responsibility improves resiliency and improves relationships with friends and family.
Managing Emotions and Conflict
Each parent will experience grief differently, which can lead to conflict.
Becoming “emotionally” disengaged from the other parent is your goal.
Reduce conflict by changing your approach and engaging less.
Separation is difficult regardless of who initiated it.
In this next section, Dr. D’Arienzo tells us about Mike and Joan. This is a made-up relationship but reflects many couples that Dr. D’Arienzo has encountered as a Divorce Expert. The figure above demonstrates the cycle of what occurs between two people when they break up. This cycle leads to perpetual conflict.
Here is the situation:
Joan has contemplated divorce for a long time. She often thinks about how divorce might impact Mike and her children. Over time, Joan has an affair with a close friend, Peter. Mike found out about the affair soon after finding suspicious texts on Joan’s phone. Joan experiences intense guilt and regrets her affair. She now feels unsure if she should end the marriage. Mike cannot forgive Joan and blames her for the affair. Joan gets angry that Mike will not acknowledge that their marriage had significant issues. Mike is constantly upset that Joan did not tell him that she was happy. Joan does not want to reconcile things in therapy. She wants to end it. Joan does not understand why Mike will not just end it. Mike is still devastated and enters individual therapy. Mike soon realizes that there were issues, but he never imagined that she would have an affair. Mike felt so betrayed and angry after the affair. Now he wants to maintain the family unit. He does not think that the children deserve a ‘broken’ family. Mike believes that Joan will consider reconciling the marriage if she thinks about how hard it will be on everyone involved. Mike is angry because he never asked for this. He feels that this is not fair. He is now losing his dreams and his family structure. They both have similar emotions about the divorce, but they are dealing with them differently. The cycle has now begun. Both individuals are both trying to change the other person. This dynamic is common in divorce processes. Now they both cannot stand each other.
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