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How Can Counseling Help You?

Oct. 15, 2020

Some people don't have a choice about a divorce -- their spouse took the lead and filed.

Other people do have a choice and can take their time deciding if divorce is the right move.

If you have the opportunity to carefully consider your past and future, you should do so with a counselor.

For any divorce, I believe counseling can be beneficial. If you are willing to give it a try, here are a some topics you should think about and discuss with a counselor.

1. Before you file, you should be certain it is the right decision. You should also be comfortable with the decision. Meeting with a counselor would allow you the opportunity to explore your options and make sure the decision and the timing are right. You should expect second thoughts and doubts about your decision. Divorces rarely start out with both parties fully and irrevocably committed to divorce. Work with any professionals necessary until you reach your comfort point.

2. Figure out how to tell the people in your life. Your decision will affect them and they will need to know about the divorce at some point.

  • Your spouse. There's no single approach that always works. Sometimes the issues have been brewing for a long time and it is no surprise. For other spouses, they may not be surprised you want a divorce, but the timing could be a surprise. Others appreciate a calm discussion as adults. Finally, some others will blow up no matter when or how you tell them. You should discuss your concerns and expectations with your counselor to come up with a safe plan. It could involve a face-to-face discussion, a phone call, text or a note. Or you can serve papers on them, which is bound to get the worst reaction. In any event, an experienced counselor can be invaluable in figuring this out.

  • Your kids. Coordinate with your spouse if you can. You should talk to a counselor about this before you have the discussion with your children. Make it age appropriate. Don't give more information than the kids need. Reassure the kids that they will be loved and cared for. Make it clear that the divorce is not the kids' fault. Don't take this as an opportunity to trash the kids' other parent. That won't help the kids or you in the long run.

  • Your family and friends. Decide on the timing and the message. Usually, the less information that is passed around, the better. You can clue in the especially important people with more information, but don't assume that you can “win” the divorce by convincing your friends by giving them one-sided information. On the other hand, you may be pleasantly surprised by the support you receive from people who didn't previously express their opinions to you.

3. What if your spouse files first? Still go see a counselor! If your spouse is committed to getting a divorce, your lawyer will probably tell you that the divorce is inevitable unless the spouse changes his/her mind. In that case, you may need to take steps to protect yourself even if you really don't want a divorce. That happens all the time, by the way.

There will be some other things you need to do to get ready for a divorce, but please help yourself and go see a counselor.. Good luck.