Can You Be Grateful For A Divorce? Should You Be Grateful For A Divorce?
Every November, social media blooms with posts about gratitude and how beneficial it is to be grateful. Families in the throes of a breakup may feel like a divorce is the last thing anyone could or should be grateful for. And yet, divorce can be a radical act of love, especially if the divorce is a collaborative divorce.
Some people believe that divorce is a terrible thing, particularly when children are involved. Divorce is shameful, traumatic, and bad for the kids. Parents whose marriages break apart are sometimes made to feel they have failed. But what if divorce was an act of love that leaves the whole family better off?
“We stayed together for the kids” is a common refrain reflecting an ingrained belief that anything is better than a “broken family.” But we who work with divorcing couples know that this is not true and that children can thrive in two homes so long as they feel that their “family” is intact. Whether or not parents are living in the same home, children know on an intuitive level what their parents are thinking and feeling. Long frosty silences, screaming matches, and unrelenting tension between parents damages children.
Divorce is painful and heartbreaking. But it can also be liberating, leading to a different life that leaves everyone better off, including the children. When I am counseling clients who express reservations about the divorce, I ask them: “Doesn’t everyone deserve to be loved in the ways that feel like love to them?” “Are you able to love your spouse in that way? Are they able to love you in the way that feels like love to you?” My guess is that the answer to one or both of those questions is no or that client would not be in my office in the first place. It can be an enormous gift to your spouse to free them to find someone who can love them in the way that feels like love to them. And, of course, you deserve to be loved in the way that feels like love to you.
Divorce can leave one or both former partners financially or emotionally broken. But for unhappily married women who are able to support themselves and their children, breaking free can be the best option. Children benefit because happier mothers are better parents.
As noted by law professor Lara Bazelon: “There are many ways a family can be broken. Sometimes, the healthiest decision is to remove the cracking shell of the nuclear family before the shards embed themselves in the precious little people nestled inside.”
She is so right about that. The key to all of this, of course, is a post-divorce co-parenting relationship that is collaborative and cooperative. And the chance of that happening skyrockets when couples choose collaborative divorce.