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Divorce

Friendship After Divorce

Collaborate and build a new structure that works for both of you.

Key points

  • Many people who have had terrible marriages do create wonderful divorces.
  • Collaborate and build a new structure that works for both of you, without the expectations and demands of marriage.
  • The only other person in the world who feels about your child the way you do is your ex-mate.

Whether you’re divorced or not, if you have children, it is really “until death do you part.” The only other person in the world who feels about your child the way you do is your ex-mate. On the other hand, when your relationship is discordant, and you’re in opposition to one another, you may burden your child with feelings of anger, separation anxiety, pain, and suffering. And, because your child is the sum total of you and your ex-spouse, he may feel conflicted in his own identity when either of his parents are attacked. This puts him in a double bind, as he struggles with loyalty issues, guilt, and the hurt of being left behind. However, if you and your ex-partner can make peace, you will both gift your child with the chance for a happy and healthy childhood.

The great thing about divorce is that you and your formal spouse can create your own space for happiness, without having expectations for one another. As a result, you can achieve friendship by understanding your wants and needs and recognizing that sometimes what you need, is just not what you want. Because you are no longer married, the things that bothered you about your relationship and your partner, no longer exist. And while ending a relationship can be filled with negatives, creating a new friendship can be positive.

Many therapists believe that when the anger settles, something new can be born out of the seed of love that once existed. After all, everyone who stood in front of that priest, minister, rabbi or judge and pledged to love one another forevermore, still exists, and divorce gives you the opportunity to reclaim some of that commitment in a new form. By following my Empathic Process, you can listen to each other without defense. This creates a safe environment in which you can both be invested. Thus, together you can collaborate and build a new structure that works for both of you, without the expectations and demands of marriage. This will keep you out of trouble, and may even allow you to find a small place back in each other’s hearts.

The empathic process creates a safe space for not only anger and resentment, but also for grieving, healing, and acceptance, investing both partners in the outcome. By recognizing and acknowledging where you are in your own healing process, you can take back your projections of hurt and injury by integrating them into yourself. Then you can choose consciously and deliberately what you want your relationship to be, without any projection. Many people who have had terrible marriages do create wonderful divorces.

Remember that your children are a combination of both you and your spouse, so what you think of each other can be taken personally by them.

References

Dr. Gail M. Gross (2015). How to Use the Empathic Process. http://drgailgross.com/use-empathic-process/

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