Dealing with the Fear in a Divorce

Fear in Divorce
Fear in Divorce

By Bart Carey | Originally posted on

All of the emotions that we see during the course of the breakdown of a marriage and the divorce process boil down to fear. I do not say that from my own expertise but from what I have heard over and over again from my colleagues in the mental health profession.

The first victim of any marriage that is going south is communication. As communication breaks down, people cannot solve problems together anymore. So, what they do is out of frustration and they start taking unilateral action.  However, because we are in a relationship, what you do affects me.  This is when the fear sets in. You lose control and you do not know what’s going to happen next and you don’t understand why your spouse is doing this to you.

This is when the fears arise and what it leads to is a tit for tat situation. It leads doing something that will make me feel like I am back in control of the situation. This back and forth starts to happen and it evolves. All of this happens before the client comes to us in the family law arena. This goes on because of their fear of loss of control, their fear that they can get along, or protect themselves for what is going on. They do not know what is going to happen next.  Their trusted advisors tell them, “You need to talk to an attorney. You need to protect yourself.”  A lot of them use words like you need to attorney up.

Out of fear they hire an attorney.  The process that they choose can make all the difference.  The Collaborative Divorce process offers is a safe space, a structure where they can rely on the supportive professionals that they can trust.  It gives clients a sense of gaining some control back in their lives. That is huge for allaying their fears. It provides a way to reestablish communication that has been lost, which allows them to start making agreements about their divorce. Something they haven’t been able to do for a long time is to agree and solve the problem together.

Suddenly they can start doing that with the structure and the safety of the process and the support that they get from the collaborative team. They start to get a little more assurance and a little less fear and start working more from the problem-solving part of their mind instead of the fight, flight, or freeze part of their mind.  Plus, then the kids start to see them doing this. The kids have seen them fall apart. Now they see their parents working together to create a safe space for the kids and structure in the parenting and the co-parenting that kids depend on.

There is a legacy in this.  You enter into a process that teaches you the skills and tools to be able to solve your own problems to co-parent together, to make agreements about what to do, even when you’re not on the same page about why to do it but what to do. The parents have a competency that allows them to have a more successful future. As parents, the kids see the parents solving one of the biggest life crises that they will ever face and they start to believe that there is no problem too big that you cannot solve it. Collaborative Divorce builds resiliency for both the parents and the kids to deal with future challenges. A future that is not overwhelmed by fear.

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