Where do therapists learn about divorce? Not in school!
As I was preparing to speak at a National Association of Social Workers California Chapter conference, it occurred to me that nowhere in my education had I ever taken — or even seen — a course on divorce offered.
I took classes on death and dying, bereavement, issues impacting children (one of which was divorce), marriage, and relationships, but I had never formally learned about marital dissolution from the adult’s perspective.
Curious about it, I asked my class of several dozen counselors if they had ever taken or seen a class on divorce and all shook their heads no.
I went on line to research whether there might be any colleges or universities offering psychology classes on divorce. Other than some brief references to the topic, I could not find any classes devoted solely to this topic.
Given how prevalent (and often devastating) an occurrence divorce is, I am astounded that there is not more education about it offered in psychology or social work programs both undergrad and graduate.
In the three hours I had to talk about the divorce continuum (from contemplation through post-divorce issues) I felt that I barely scratched the surface. There was so much more I could have said and much more I’m sure the students wanted to know and/or discuss.
Law school students have classes specifically about Family Law (which is an entire branch of the law) and Contracts. They learn about the legal contract of marriage, about pre and post nuptial agreements, community property versus equitable distribution, fault and no-fault laws, paternity, palimony, child custody, child support, and on and on.
Financial professionals also receive a good amount of education on divorce matters given that a predictable part of their job will be to assist divorcing clients with tax issues, division of assets and debts, financial planning, and budgeting.
Therapists, on the other hand, receive relatively little schooling on
Where do therapists learn about divorce? Not in school!
Whether it begins with a trial separation, or moves directly to divorce, the break-up of a marriage is a difficult and painful experience for everyone involved, especially for children, even under the most amicable of circumstances.
While mom and dad may find themselves deeply questioning their own life choices, their child may be quietly questioning how they may have contributed to their parents’ parting. Their reactions may include anger, depression, anxiety, sleep-loss, as well as a fear of being separated from mom or dad.
Some kids seem to have an almost infinite capacity to take the cares and responsibilities of their parents’ relationship onto their own shoulders, all too readily blaming themselves for whatever difficulties their mother or father may be facing, especially when it comes to marital disagreements or difficulties.
Their behaviors, sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle, can often change. A child who once may have enjoyed sleepovers with friends or going away to camp may suddenly become a reclusive homebody, refusing opportunities and invitations to engage with the world.
Others react by seeking to spend as much time as possible away from their familiar surroundings and parents, associating them with pain and
When my daughter announced to my granddaughter, “Grandpa and Doug are getting married,” my granddaughter asked, “Oh? Who are they marrying?” My daughter responded that we were marrying each other. After a beat, my granddaughter said, “That’s weird.” Then, after another pause, she asked, “Will there be cake?”
I can’t fault my granddaughter for thinking same-sex marriage is weird; when I first heard several years ago that same-sex marriage was being proposed in Massachusetts, even though I had been “out” for many years, I thought it was pretty weird, too. No reference point existed for this significant social change.
All that my granddaughter needed was reassurance that our marriage was about a public statement of love and commitment — and about cake — and that her world wouldn’t
Divorce used to be a lot easier. Oh, not because of changes in divorce laws or family courts, but because the worst that could happen is that you’d cause a scandal in your neighborhood. Outside of maybe your mom, your close friends and your shrink, few knew all your dirty details.
Only the rich and famous had their breakup dramas exposed on the front page or turned into best-sellers, like Nora Ephron’s Heartburn, a fictionalized account of how her husband, Watergate legend Carl Bernstein, dumped
As she stood at the mailbox, Suzanne’s face went pale when she saw the return address: Department of the United States Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Official Business. A chill traveled down her spine, a feeling that reminded her of the day she stood in front of the judge as he finalized her divorce. That was 18 months ago, yet it felt like yesterday. Trying not to panic, Suzanne nervously tucked the letter behind her bundle of junk mail as she walked back into the
If you’ve been left by your husband for another woman, you may have wondered why the pain is so excruciating. Women tend describe the experience in extreme terms. A sixty two year old woman I interviewed for my book, whose husband left her for someone else after thirty-three years of marriage, was typical:
“I cried every day for two months. I still cry two years
As a divorce lawyer and divorce mediator, my divorce clients describe problems that led to the failure of their marriages. These problems seem to be universal. There might be anger and frustration about sharing household duties and creating income for the family that finally caused a breakdown. Some marital failures were a result of concrete problems relating to livelihoods and financial
News flash: My daughters have a new baby brother! No, don’t congratulate me–I wasn’t the one who gave birth (I’m happy to report). My ex-husband and his wife had a baby, which makes him my…umm…stepson once removed?
I’m pretty sure there isn’t a name for that relationship. It’s complicated. Anyone who is involved in a blended family knows how complicated it can get; if you’re not involved in one, just imagine how complicated it might be, then multiply that by
It seems the public can’t get enough of Charlie Sheen these days. Every day seems to be another media interview, re-publication of alleged text messages, or re-publication of tweets that Charlie has supposedly sent out. It is almost as though Charlie, having attacked CBS and those associated with his long running and highly successful sitcom “Two and a Half Men”, has used the dispute to promote himself, and his “lifestyle” in a rather odd way. While one could speculate that there are any number of causes to Sheen’s latest public ramblings, the problems now seem to have become more personal in
My son, now 23 years old, sleeps across the room as I write. I’m visiting him in Jamaica, where he’s spending three months as part of his Thomas J. Watson postgraduate fellowship. He spent last night on a boat with a friend he’d met a few weeks ago in
I was married for seventeen years to the only man I had ever really dated and together we had two children. As the years went by we fell into the stereotypical dilemma of putting on the pounds, lots of them. I guess after years of marriage and raising our kids we didn’t have a lot to talk about, so eating dinner in front of the television was easier then sitting at a table in complete silence. We finally ended our mutual silence by a very loud divorce two years
Last summer, former Governor Paterson signed a bill making New York the 50th and final state to enact no-fault divorce. Sponsors said a complaint for no-fault divorce would be irrefutable and thus obviate the need for any trial whatsoever with respect to grounds. I was heartbroken when I heard about the bill; to me, standing up for marriage and family in America now was truly an impossible dream.
Under the new statute, parties no longer need prove fault or that they’ve lived apart under a separation agreement for one year in order to obtain a
One of the greatest challenges of divorce is money. As a newly single parent, you might be overwhelmed, as I was, with more bills than you can afford. I can remember skimping on afterschool snacks and being generally in a very rotten mood (but trying to slap a smile and happy-go-lucky demeanor on my face for the kids) toward the end of every month. That is until I discovered the solution.
Cutting out cafe lattes and afterschool cupcakes will not improve circumstances at all, and the fact that you are trying to get things under control by eliminating all the fun just makes life
The word forgiveness hauls me back to when I was a young Catholic girl. I remember being taught how to recite Hail Mary Full of Grace and those confession boxes with a raspy voiced priest on the other side of a screen who told me he was God’s gatekeeper. Before I could receive forgiveness for my collection of human sins — swearing, swiping a cookie or thinking a mean thought about my brother — I had to say, “Bless me Father for I have sinned.”
To forgive was to be divine and as a child, among my spanking clean brethren, I did forgive all those who had trespassed against me. As time passed though, the trespasses seemed to add up faster than my ability to forgive and pretty soon I was buried in what had gone
In 2007 the AARP noted a new trend. Divorce among those in long-term marriages was on the rise. The media picked it up, called it an exploding phenomenon and gave it a name: Gray Divorces. Now, we even have poster children for it, Al and Tipper
Three and a half years ago I left my husband. We divorced amicably and have a collaborative and supportive co-parenting relationship. There was no affair but I met someone while married, whom I started dating after my separation but before my divorce.
In the wake of the separation, I lost my best friend, Maya, of seven years. We had been friends since college and bonded over both being teachers and both having difficult
How many pieces of paper did you sign when you got married? My husband and I signed two. Now ask yourself how many documents people sign in a divorce? Even if it isn’t actually two hundred, it certainly feels that way for the average person who has to slog through the morass of legalese.
Divorce is hard — emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, financially and socially. For many people, divorce is a traumatic event that impacts not only the nuclear family being divided, but the extended family and friends as well.
My husband, Michael, has an interesting idea for potentially reducing the fallout dissolutions
There’s no easy way to tell your kids you’re getting a divorce. You can consult friends, read self-help books, seek professional advice — it won’t make any difference. Even if you do everything right, it’ll still feel like you did everything wrong.
Which is why I decided to do everything
See if you can identify your attorney (the one you have or the one you want) in one of these descriptions and most important of all, assess whether that type is best for you and where you stand on the control front:
The Warrior: These divorce lawyers plow full speed ahead, usually winding up in a courtroom on a regular and repeated basis in each case. The Warrior thrives on competition and does everything to win, at all costs. A Warrior may be the answer when your last resort is a bona fide Legal War, but often times this species can create more havoc and chaos than good. I believe every good divorce attorney should have a Warrior “within” (I certainly do); but to behave bellicose 24/7 is not necessarily the answer.
The Parent: This type is the “father/mother figure.” They are known to “caretake” throughout the divorce-law process; but just like Mom and Dad, they may have a tendency to tell you what is best for you and insist on your following their lead.
The Wimp: This type of family lawyer backs off from any confrontation, whether it is coming from you, opposing counsel, or the
As has been documented again and again, divorce crashes a child’s world. That truth stated, an essential question must be asked: If you are in a marriage that feels like a death sentence (and maybe is), if you have tried and tried to make things more endurable but cannot — what is the worst damage to children: to stay or leave?
I believe with every fiber in me that it is better to leave, and show your children that you are capable of a better life, and so are they. This leads to other questions about the wisest way to accomplish this. Please read on, as I would welcome your feedback.
My former husband fought our divorce tooth and
It’s the mornings that get you. You avert your eyes as you walk past his bedroom door- walking briskly to the kitchen it is the longest walk in the world and the emptiness that fills you makes the apartment feel like a cavernous warehouse bereft of warmth. For parents, the most devastating aspect of divorce is the idea that you can’t see your child whenever you please. To wake up and not be able to walk over to your child’s room and peer in to check on them is an emotional trauma that really can’t be
If you have kids, you know the car is where all great conversations happen. Once upon a time, my husband’s mistress unexpectedly showed up at our doorstep with a toddler in the car. As you might guess, a slightly emotional scene occurred.
The next day, as my daughters and I were heading out for ice cream, my 6 year-old asked:
Mommy, is Connie’s son Daddy’s too?
My heart stopped. I’d been dreading the day that question was