Healing after a Marriage Ends—Counseling and Therapy for Divorce Recovery in Alexandria, VA
On a couple’s wedding day, there is only happiness and joy. No one walks down the aisle thinking theirs will be one of the 40 percent of first marriages that end in divorce. For second or third marriages, the odds are even worse—approximately 60 and 70 percent, respectively.
“And I’ll sign on
The line beneath my name
The road is gone
I can’t go back the way we came.”
—The Avett Brothers, “Divorce Separation Blues”
Divorce closes a road, and this diversion comes with many other losses. Anyone who is finalizing or has recently finalized a divorce understands. Just practically, people going through divorce face decisions about their housing, their finances, their children, and many legal matters. Adding to the challenge, they are often wrestling with significant emotional upheaval—anger, guilt, confusion, fear, loneliness, anxiety, and maybe even depression.
The process is difficult, but new roads can be forged. Closing the path of one relationship and opening a path to others often requires intentional time to heal and the guidance of a mental health professional.
Thriveworks Alexandria offers therapy for divorce recovery because we know that new beginnings are worth fighting for.
How Marriages Fall Apart
The particular circumstances that could drive a wedge between spouses is infinite: the in-laws, disagreements about parenting, addiction, irresponsible financial decisions, jobs, careers, health, accidents, injuries, and so much more. Some couples work through these difficulties while others do not. Why? In the couples who divorce, often toxic behavior lies underneath these surface challenges, and it is the real reason the marriage ends—not the issue itself.
Dr. John Gottman famously studied marriage and divorce. He identifies four toxic dynamics that are almost always present when a couple divorces:
- Criticism: Negativity, dissention, pessimism
- Defensiveness: An unwillingness to accept responsibility for one’s own actions.
- Stonewalling: Minimizing, avoiding, and/or denying problems.
- Contempt: Disrespect and superiority (this is possibly the most toxic dynamic within a marriage)
Even one of these dynamics can cause serious personal harm, and if you are coming out of a marriage, most likely, you experienced these first hand. Moving onto another relationship without first healing from a divorce may mean the pattern could be repeated. Taking the time for divorce recovery takes courage, but it often sets people up for a life-time of healthy relationships.
Healing and Recovery after a Divorce
Once a marriage ends, the process of forging a new path is unique to each person. A variety of factors influence what healing and recovery will entail:
- Whether new liaisons have formed.
- How long the marriage had lasted.
- If the divorce surprised one or both partners.
- Why the divorce occurred.
- An individual’s age, personality, mental health, and/or physical health.
- The condition of the couple’s finances.
- If the family had children—their ages and how many.
A skilled counselor can often help clients find a treatment plan that addresses their unique needs. While particulars will vary from person to person, divorce recovery almost always involves grieving well and processing the marriage.
1) Grieving Well:
Of course, a divorce ends the marriage relationship ends, but this loss is often only the initial cost. If a couple had children together, then they will be transitioning to single-parenting or joint-parenting. Their relationships with their own children will change. Similarly, relationships with extended family and friends often go through a transition during a divorce. Many times, people also have to change their housing situation, and the financial strain of a divorce can mean a lowered standard of living.
The many, many losses incurred during a divorce can be grieved and resolved. The key is allowing any emotion to arise. Grief is a strange process that often involves many feelings—shock, guilt, sadness, fear, denial, anger, and more.
2) Processing the Marriage:
Along with varied emotions that will arise, challenging memories or difficult experiences may emerge. Looking back at negative experiences or painful memories can hurt, but the key to escaping toxic patterns is often in the past. When people take a hard but honest look at what went wrong, they also may find how to make a better future.
Counseling after a Divorce with Thriveworks Alexandria
Are you finalizing a divorce? Are you rebuilding after your marriage has ended? If so, you are probably facing many losses. Know that you are not alone as you recover. Thriveworks Alexandria has helped many people heal after a divorce, and we are ready to help you.
Recovering from a divorce is hard; setting up therapy should not be. Thriveworks Alexandria offers weekend and evening appointments. Our providers work with most insurance companies and accept many insurance plans. We also have a no-waitlist policy, but instead, many new clients meet with their therapist within 24 hours of contacting us.
Are you ready to grieve and process the divorce? Thriveworks Alexandria is ready to help. Call today.