Thursday, October 6, 2016


This is a talk I gave in 1991, edited some. I’m retired now but will keep this in the present tense as it was written.

A Counselor’s View of Divorce
Couples on the brink of divorce are angry, hurt, unable to communicate and in a power struggle. Some times the power struggle is a cold war, some times there has been actual violence. Sometimes one partner has had an affair. Often by the time I see them one has decided to get a divorce but is coming to counseling to satisfy their partner. Often they have walls up from years of holding onto resentment, from years of abuse or from years of miscommunication. 

I have seen the most disastrous appearing marriages turned around. I've seen couples regain hope and love and work out lasting solutions to their problems within a matter of months. Naturally I've also seen many who have not done this. When both are committed to making the marriage work, I believe, with adequate counseling they can do so.

When I see couples I attempt to:
1. Give them hope that things can work out. I do this by getting them to focus on the times in their courtship or early marriage when they were in love, to remember those good times and the love they began with. I also focus on what they like about each other now and what each wants the other to do now or in the future that would show they care. If couples are actively hating each other I may comment on the fact that hate is a connection and that the opposite of love is indifference. Also, if they feel no love for the other - I may wonder if they can or do love the other person's soul.

2. I focus on the fact that they're both responsible for the problems but no one need be "blamed". They didn't intend for things to end up this way.

3. I educate them about the fact that virtually all marriages reach the power struggle stage and that marriage takes work and commitment. They work very hard on careers and on raising children but often coast regarding marriage.They need to put as much effort into the marriage as they do into careers or child rearing.

4. I work on helping them let go of resentments, forgive each other, improve communication and change their current relationship.

5. The root cause of dysfunctional marriages is often dysfunctional childhood development. Many couples need to work through issues from their families of origin. I do this in the context of marital therapy as I believe this helps them better understand each other and learn to nurture and accept each other - to accept even the childish parts.

Other guidelines:
1. Moving out of the home during the crisis is more apt to result in divorce than to reconciliation. Moving out may also lead to the continuation of an affair.

2. When one person has been involved in an affair the injured partner may become obsessed with the affair. The focus needs to shift off the affair to the meaning behind it and to solutions. The injured partner may want to know all the details. This will only feed the imagination and be difficult to forget. The injured party does have a right to know who, when, where, and in general what happened, how long it lasted and whether it has ended. They also have a right to know about a pregnancy or any sexually transmitted diseases.

3. I recommend couples tell as few people as possible about their problems. Family members mean well but they unwittingly take sides and this complicates forgiveness and reconciliation and encourages continued conflict.

4. It takes a year or more to fully recover from an affair if both partners actively work on it together in counseling.

My comments today: Divorce is devastating to the couple and to extended family members as well as to children, even adult children. The aftermath of divorce is as painful as most marital problems. They will go through a year or two of grieving the loss of the marriage. Divorce is not an easy way out.

If you decide to work on your marriage choose a Christian counselor experienced in marriage counseling who will share your determination to resolve the problems. Groups such as the Third Option, Marriage Encounter and A Weekend to Remember are very helpful and work well along with counseling. An active faith in God, praying and worshipping together will also help solidify your marriage.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in God through Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 NLT

Blessings, Dottie

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Dottie, for this information. I once heard that if a couple gets a divorce, that each one takes half the problems of the marriage with him or her.