I’ve been in and around divorce all of my life. My parents divorced. I, myself, have been through a divorce. And my brother and his wife have come close a few times (thankfully they did work things out).
Roughly 50% of all marriages end in divorce, so I know I’m not alone. My brother, a social worker, once explained to me, “Please don’t try to relate your divorce to mine. Even though they’re similar, the feelings you feel while going through it are different.”
How Divorce Affected Me
When I was divorced, I went down a negative spiral. I started drinking heavily. I cursed god. I was extremely depressed. I saw it as the ultimate rejection.
Little did I know that I had undiagnosed bipolar disorder at the time, which may have contributed to my wife separating from me. She told me I needed to “fix” myself. I was appalled. I didn’t think I was “broken.”
We went into marriage counseling before the separation, but it was just a shouting match for both of us to vent our frustrations.
I should’ve seen it coming, perhaps. Before the separation, she insisted on me getting my own car. I used our savings to put a down-payment on a car. It was shortly after that that she cleaned out the savings account and opened up a new account in her own name. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was saving for the separation. I robbed her of that.
Do You Need Couple’s Counseling?
It depends. Who’s initiating it? Who is going to benefit? Are you going to end up like Marty and Wendy in Ozark bribing the therapist so he/she can side with you?
I’m not saying marriage counseling doesn’t work, but usually, by that time, minds are already made up.
It’s now a matter of who gets what, how much you are to pay in alimony, and each of you now need to get your own lawyers. This is where things get heated and very, very expensive.
Something I wished I knew at the time is that mediation costs significantly less and is a less emotional toll than divorce.
We could’ve worked things out mutually and agreed on a settlement rather than having each lawyer come up with their best “solution” for each party.
It also takes a long time to get a divorce. For myself, the separation was for 9 months, and it took another 9 months before the divorce was settled by the lawyers.
At least with Mediation, we could have both come to a conclusion that benefited both parties.
Is Mediation Right For you?
I would argue, in most circumstances, yes. And I was surprised at the types of mediation available.
For example, Rob Keiter (the owner of this site and Keiter Mediation), offers couple’s mediation, divorce mediation, and a host of other services.
So you may have sticker shock when you see the costs of mediation, but you’ll at least reach a compromise together and part ways mutually, rather than getting those nasty lawyers involved.
Divorce sucks. It’s the ultimate rejection. But it’s a necessary part of life for 50% of us who get married.
Mediation helps reduce costs, allows both parties to come to a mutually agreed-upon decision, and (I imagine) will take a less emotional toll on all those involved.
Thank you for reading.