Divorce-and-Breakups: How Do I Get Through It?

In this divorce-and-breakups section, the term DIVORCE is used interchangeably with the word BREAKUP.

It is within our committed relationship that we learn the most about ourselves. Marriages and other unions provide us the opportunity to work through our personal issues in a trusting, loving environment. That is one of the reasons that a breakup can be so devastating. When you picked out your partner, you were attracted to her/him for a number of reasons you could describe; these were the conscious considerations you made in selecting someone to share your life with.

On an entirely different AND UNCONCIOUS level, you also were drawn to your partner because he/she embodied many or at least some of the characteristics of your childhood caregivers. Many professionals believe that this unconscious attraction draws you to the positive qualities of your potential partner, but also can draw you to the negative qualities. For example, a person who was neglected as a child may be drawn to a potential partner who is unavailable in some way. The underlying work here would be....if I can get this person to love me, I will have mastered the pain of feeling unloved as a child.

Self knowledge is certainly the key to making a healthy choice in a partner. As problems arise in a relationship, when to stay and when to go can be an excruciatingly difficulty decision.

An important rule of thumb is that a relationship should be able to accommodate the authentic you. If you find you have changed in a relationship and you are no longer the person you want to be, this should be your focus....your own self growth. If the relationship supports the authentic YOU, then it is life-enhancing, if the relationship begins to falter, this is the signal that it may unhealthy for you. As you focus on yourself and strive for true authenticity, your decision for divorce will become clearer. Let's assume the decision to separate or divorce has already been made and now it's time to get through it.

Stress, Crisis and Adaptation

Stress, crisis, and adaptation are three psychological processes that allow people to cope with any number of bad things. Stress occurs when there is an imbalance between what is happening,the stressors, and what a person feels capable of managing. When too many stressors hit us all at once, system overload creates crisis. The resolution of system overload is adaptation. Adaptation refers to a change -- restructuring or redefining, or reinventing some part of one's life. Divorce is ranked at the top of the list of stressful events.

A process as complex as a divorce does not lend itself well to a list of "how to's". More importantly, each situation is uniquely particular to the individual and to that individual's relationship with another unique individual. However, let's take a look at how divorce challenges certain beliefs. In order to successfully survive a divorce or breakup, it is imperative that you challenge your basic beliefs about marriage and commitment and "til death do us part". In fact,

Endings are an inherent part of life.

Anything that has a beginning also must have an ending.

Change is inevitable.

If you have children, the clear goals when you have a breakup are:

Keeping your family a family.
Accepting that all-out war is not inevitable and is in fact destructive.
Recognize that compromise is absolutely necessary.
Stay in charge of your divorce or breakup.
Develop a vision of your new family constellation.
Make new rules for how the two households will be linked.

Minimizing the negative effects on your children.
Slow down the process -- children need time to adjust.
Accept that your child needs--and has a right to--both parents.
Cooperate with your ex if only for the sake of the children.
Establish a limited partnership agreement with clear rules.
Accept that your child's familly will expand to include nonbiological kin. Divorce-and-Breakups: What About the Kids?

Integrating your breakup in your life in a healthy way.
Remember the good -- as well as the bad -- parts of your relationship.
Accept the inevitable ambiguities.
Face your losses, grieve, and don't drown in the pain.
Forgive yourself -- and your ex.
Let go of the anger.
Find your part -- your personal shortcomings -- and learn from them.


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