Divorce can be presented as an "easy way out" at times to society or even to the couple in the relationship. When you feel disconnected, overwhelmed, and stuck, it can be normal to think about the relationship ending, having a different relationship or even desiring to be alone. In my experience as a couples therapist, I find that the divorce conversation is a complex one and does not feel like an easy way out at all.
My experience has shown many couples work incredibly hard to avoid divorce. They read books, listen to podcasts, go to therapy, consult with trusted support systems, and even not allow divorce to be an option for them. So when they come to the decision to divorce it typically involves an enormous amount of wrestling with their thoughts, feelings, and needs to get to that place.
In our practice, we do hold that divorce is a path that couples can pursue. We DO NOT force it, encourage it, or guide couples to that path. We DO explore it with couples, discuss the path as an option, and hold space for the wrestling that can occur as couples see it as one of the paths for relationships.
The reason we think this is important is because we know Divorce does not always mean it's a bad path to take. It is a path that has its own unique challenges and pain with it and we also know pain can lead to healing and purpose. We believe our goal is to help each partner and relationship discover the most empowered, respectful, honoring path for themselves. Whether that be continuing the relationship or separating from it.
Personally, it can feel hard to explore divorce or separation with couples. I often hold hope or experience the hope differently for couples as I am not experiencing the emotional pain or overwhelm they are feeling. I do feel it is still my purpose to hold space for couples exploring this because this is their life. What I may choose for myself, does not have to look the same and it is my place to help them explore what they need and want for their life.
I used to think Divorce only meant pain, but thanks to the trust the couple has placed in me, I have seen that Divorce is not only pain. Sometimes the pain experienced leads to purpose, healing, and repair. Sometimes it allows couples to become friends again, become better co-parents, and even unlock a new part of themselves they were not able to discover before.
Divorce is not always negative, it is not always an easy choice, and it is not always wrong. Divorce can be positive, it is often a difficult choice to make, and it can be the right path sometimes.
Rachel Elder is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor serving Washington and Florida State clients. She is passionate about helping couples grow old and grey together and supporting couples to have more connective relationships. She enjoys reflecting on her thoughts of couples' work as she says "it's an honor to be entrusted to walk alongside couples and help them heal, create, and grow." You can learn more about Rachel and the work she does here: Rachel Elder