Two people don’t get married expecting the relationship to fail, but statistics show some marriages face this harsh reality.
Separation and divorce are not easy choices, even if you know it’s right thing to do. However, the possibility of a healthy divorce can be realistic, according to Tisha Bayless, a licensed clinical professional counselor and a therapist with Memorial Behavioral Health, an affiliate of Memorial Health System.
Some people may think a healthy divorce means communicating effectively and productively with their ex, while others maintain very separate lives and speak only when necessary.
“A healthy divorce is a goal you should continually work toward for many years,” Bayless said.
While getting along with your former spouse is possible after a divorce, it won't happen overnight, Bayless warned.
"It's rare for a couple to separate, terminate a marriage and instantly have a wonderful friendship," she said. "Couples will grieve; they will go through anger, depression, blame, guilt and fear. As people heal, a friendship may or may not be possible in the years to come."
Bayless encourages couples contemplating separation to set healthy goals.
“Your life is about to become very different. Everything from your finances and daily routine, to your family dynamic will change. Most people don’t realize all aspects, so the more prepared you are, the better,” Bayless said. “Allow yourself time to heal, be patient with the process and focus on what is in your control.”
Bayless urges couples to evaluate their circumstances. Weighing the pros and cons for the sake of their children is very important. Couples need to realize divorce affects all children – at any age.
“When it comes time to sit your children down for the discussion, make sure you share age-appropriate content, reassure them that things will be OK, and the divorce is not their fault,” Bayless said. “Be aware that kids will remember what is said.”
She also recommends couples inform their children’s teachers about the divorce since they spend the majority of their day at school.
“When moving ahead with your divorce, focus on your relationship with your child – and not your exes,” Bayless said.
It will take work to create a healthy relationship with your ex, but it is possible. If you find yourself struggling to move on after the divorce, it may be time to reach out to a professional. A therapist can help you dig deeper and provide guidance while rebuilding your life, Bayless said.