Restructuring the Family after the Divorce
By Dana Greco,LCSW and Don Desroches
When people get divorced there are often strong emotional feelings from the ending of their relationship. There are various reasons for this and it is extremely important for each of them to get past those feelings, forgive the other person and move on. They need to do this to becoming mentally healthy themselves and if children are involved, it becomes even more imperative for them. Children are extremely good at keeping their feelings about this hidden.
Many times in our practice, we have supported individuals and couples acknowledging the reality and sadness their relationship is over. Both or maybe just one spouse comes to the conclusion that happiness lies beyond their couple-hood and it is in the best interest of all involved to sever the relationship. It can be the bravest and healthiest thing they can do. Therefore the process of dissolve and restructuring the relationship begins.
If your marriage involves children the dissolve can become very complicated. There is hurt, confusion, sadness and sometimes depression and anxiety. Although these feelings are normal, while challenged with loss and separation, there is a solution to what may be one of the most profound experiences of a family’s life. This experience impacts the legacy of a family for generations to come.
In our practice, we emphasize compassion and empathy while offering practical tools to restructure the members of the family into a custom designed functional union. Divorce does not have to look like a division of property and assets, visitation on the weekends with the children, alternate holidays, and awkward run-ins on the soccer field.
Despite irreconcilable differences, a divorce can also be an opportunity for personal growth and awareness. This represents the belief that even though the old version of the family ends, a new version of the family starts. It’s a fact the two of you at one time communicated, and believed the relationship had staying power and longevity and there was something to gain by being together. These beliefs may no longer be the case due to a myriad of reasons, but for the sake of the children and your own piece of mind, a new belief system must be formed in order to reorganize what could be a long lasting healthy existence for all.
It is the formation of a belief system that builds the foundation for new renovation. Take a house that exists already but needs to be up-dated with new appliances, electricity, remodeling. It can be costly and challenging but in the end worth it. We remodel our home because of the increase in value of the property while creatively enhancing its aesthetics.
This is the same thinking we use to remodel the members of the family. Imagine that an extension has been put on the house. It is this new addition that takes time getting use to, but in the end, you can’t remember what it felt like when it wasn’t there. This is the feeling of the new restructured relationship among divorced parents living apart but together, and feeling content, relaxed and accepted in the heart we call the place where we live.
If you have ever renovated your home you know that bringing in a contractor and workers can cause much angst and apprehension. You need to trust the contractor and he has to be reliable, skilled and trustworthy. You also know the restructuring can be messy, with demolition and rubble to sweep up. In family restructuring there is demolition and rubble of old marital promises, hopes and expectations and these must be swept up and placed in the dumpster in order to bring in new materials, realistic hopes, clarity and understanding.
Renovation is a risk because its process is unpredictable no matter how carefully planned. Yet, the project must be done. When the home or family is in disrepair we must face our discomforts for comfort and longer lasting appliances. It may take time to learn how to use them or get accustomed to new surroundings but in the end it will bring happiness, appreciation and well-being. For the future, having your children witness their parents’ development and newly designed communication will also give them tools serving them throughout their lives.