Wedding plans almost always include the dress, the cake, the food, the party, and the happy ending. No one begins a marriage planning for a divorce, but after the wedding, many marriages never find their happily ever after. Anyone who is going through or has gone through a divorce knows that plans change.
Writing about the end of her marriage, Amy Poehler described divorce, saying, “Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air. The process of divorce is about loading that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin, and worrying what stuff will break when it lands.”
Divorce, indeed, is like having your life thrown into the air. Often, people need have to navigate new realities—custody decisions, legal battles, financial problems, and housing scenarios. At the same time, they often face anger, depression, fear, loneliness, confusion, anxiety, and guilt.
When life is spinning, it may feel like it will never settle, but it will. Divorce is the end of a particular relationship, but it is not the end of a fulfilling, joyful life. Recovering from a divorce is often a painful and difficult process, but many who embrace the challenge find that a new, beautiful life emerges. And no one has to navigate divorce recovery alone. Skilled therapists understand the road to divorce recovery and can provide invaluable guidance at critical times.
That is why Thriveworks Birmingham offers therapy for divorce recovery in Oakland County: we understand the ups and downs of ending a marriage. We also understand that healing is possible.
Undercurrents of Divorce
The surface issues within a marriage that can lead to divorce are infinite—adultery, lying, addiction, money problems, laziness, and on, and on. When people look below the surface, however, there are generally four dynamics that drive couples apart. Psychologist John Gottman has famously studied divorce and marriage, and he calls these undercurrents “the four horsemen.” These fuel disconnection and often lead to divorce.
- Criticism: Negative comments, put-downs, and nit-picking stifle intimacy and connection, especially if these outweigh positive, healthy, and kind interactions.
- Stonewalling: Almost all problems can be addressed and resolved, but if they are denied, avoided, or minimized, then these issues grow and can overwhelm a couple. The root problem is not the issue itself, but the avoidance of the issue.
- Defensiveness: Instead of accepting responsibility and accountability for one’s own choices, defensiveness assumes an air of superiority. Blaming and shifting consequences away from oneself and onto others is a toxic behavior.
- Contempt: Respect for another’s individuality, thoughts, and feelings is the foundation to any healthy relationship. Contempt undercuts respect and shames others.
Coming out of a marriage that had one or more of these undercurrents often means people need an intentional time of recovery where they can pursue healing and assess any adjustments they need to make for their future.
Divorce Recovery: Working through Pain, Finding Healing
Many losses are incurred at the end of a marriage, and healing often means making peace with grief. It is obvious to see that the marriage relationship ends, but this loss is often the tip of the iceberg. Divorce brings too many losses to list here, but just a few may include…
- Shifting relationships with extended family/in-laws
- A lowered standard of living
- Adjusting to co-parenting or single parenting
- Losing one’s home
- Changes in friendships
As people recognize their losses, it is normal for a host of varied emotions to hit them. Grief, at various times, may feel like guilt, denial, bargaining, shock, fear, anger, and sadness. These feelings may rise and fall at unexpected times and in unexpected ways. It is important to allow oneself to feel them. They are often clues into wounds that need healing.
Recovery and healing are rarely easy processes. There is no magic formula, silver bullet, or straight line to a fulfilling future. Missteps will happen. Falling and getting up again are normal parts of the recovery process. So is asking for help.
Recovering from a divorce takes a lot of support—from friends, family, and often a mental health professional. An experienced therapist can be an invaluable source of guidance and support when it is needed most.
Recovering from a Divorce with Thriveworks Birmingham in Oakland County
Is your marriage coming to an end or have you recently finalized a divorce? Thriveworks Birmingham in Oakland County, MI understands the rollercoaster you are riding. We have helped many people navigate the ups and downs of ending a marriage and rebuild a fulfilling, happy life.
If you want to meet with a Thriveworks Birmingham therapist, know that we have done our best to make the process as easy as possible. Going through a divorce is hard. Scheduling therapy should not be. When you call our office, a person will answer. You may be able to meet with your therapist the following day, and we probably take your insurance. We also offer weekend and evening appointments.
Call Thriveworks today. We are ready to help.