A divorce or separation doesn’t just happen; it takes years. In fact, the mean is seven years plus or minus two to create a divorce. Conflict resolution is always more effective when you deal with it right away. Many couples let things go, thinking they will resolve themselves, and sometimes they do. However, if the same problem keeps occurring, it is a good time to intervene. Faulty patterns established in order to resolve a situation make their way into the marriage without intervention. These faulty patterns bring a temporary solution, but they are usually not healthy or well thought out. Alcohol, drugs, eating, withdrawing, yelling, shopping and emotional affairs could be considered temporary solutions. It is the temporary solution rather than the marriage that is problematic. The temporary solution is also why the divorce is impending.
Couples may say the reason they don’t get help with their marriage is because their partner won’t go to therapy. The newest research is supporting that if one partner goes to marital therapy, the marriage will improve. The research is more positive if the woman goes by herself, and this may be for several reasons including that the majority of divorces are initiated by the woman. During therapy, the couple learns that it is not their partner who needs to change but themselves. Changing your reaction changes everything.
If you find yourself with an impending divorce date, and you both aren’t sure if you really want to go through with it, you do have options. Below are 5 suggestions you should consider prior to calling a therapist for help.
1. Talk to your spouse and tell them directly you do not want a divorce. Ask them if they are willing to work on the marriage. Be clear, don’t hint.
2. Postpone the court date that you have scheduled for your divorce.
3. Each of you should write down three weaknesses about yourself that makes it difficult for your partner to love you.
4. Each of you should write down five reasons you believe the marriage can make it.
5. Whichever one of you initiated the divorce should consider beginning therapy on your own first and then finding a couples counselor. This does not have to be the same counselor, and often is not since the couples counselor must be fair at all times and not show favoritism. If you have a relationship with a therapist, it may be difficult for the therapist to be objective with the two of you.
If you go to couples counseling with temporary solutions before the marriage becomes destructive, it is highly likely you will be successful at enhancing your marital communication. The worst time to begin therapy is with an impending divorce date; however, personally, I would rather have a couple seek help at any time rather than walk away from their marriage. –Mary Jo Rapini
*These suggestions are not meant for abusive marriages. In the case of abuse, leave the marriage; protect yourself and your children.
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