The Best Friend Every Divorced Person Should Have

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5 Reasons Your Divorce Counselor Should Be Your New Best Friend
Heartbreak

Five ways seeking divorce counseling can improve your divorce.

Did you ever wish you had a fairy godmother? Someone who could just wave a magic wand and make all the ugliness of your divorce go away? Or, maybe you wish you had a superpower that would let you repair your relationship without a single harsh word?

While superpowers and fairy godmothers may be the stuff of comic books and fairy tales, a good divorce counselor or therapist can often work wonders in your divorce (and your life)!

Divorce counseling can help you transform your divorce experience from one of hell, into one of hope.

Here are 5 ways on how to make divorce easier by signing up for divorce counseling:

1. It saves you money. 

Divorce is expensive. Not surprisingly, when money gets tight, you start cutting corners wherever you can. Cutting out counseling may seem to make financial sense. What you may not realize though is that working with a divorce counselor can save you money in your divorce.

If you’re like most people, the thought of getting divorced without a lawyer is terrifying. Yet, the most expensive divorce professional you’ll hire is your divorce lawyer.

That’s not to say that you don’t need legal advice in your divorce. You do. But, using your divorce lawyer as a sounding board to rant about your ex is a total waste of time and money. Plus, your lawyer is probably not very good at helping you deal with your emotions.

Your lawyer is not a divorce therapist. Your lawyer has had little, if any, training in psychology. So, spending hours on the phone with your divorce lawyer complaining about your ex or having an emotional meltdown will cost you hundreds (or thousands) of dollars. It will also get you very little for your money.

Unless the information you tell your lawyer is legally significant, they are probably not going to do anything with it. So, while venting to your lawyer may make you feel better, venting to your therapist is a much better use of your resources.

2. It saves you from making major divorce mistakes.

Divorce, especially a high conflict divorce, can send your body into long term "fight or flight" mode. Your brain gets flooded with the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Your heart races. Your blood pressure soars. And your ability to think rationally takes a major hit.

Studies have shown that stress hormones suppress your concentration, short term memory, and capacity for critical thinking.  Stress also overworks the amygdala, the part of your brain that regulates emotion. As a result, the prefrontal cortex (the part of your brain that allows you to reason) is less able to engage in critical thinking. 

Stress negatively impacts your ability to make decisions and perform even basic tasks. In short, stress can reduce you to thinking like a small child.

Obviously, divorce is enormously stressful.  It ranks as number 2 on the list of major life stressors. (The only thing more stressful than divorce is the death of your spouse.)  

At the same time, while you are going through the stress of divorce, you will have to make major life decisions that will affect you and your family for years.

With the odds stacked against you, physically and emotionally, you need all the help you can get.

Divorce counseling can help you work through your stress. It can help you discover ways to process your emotions productively. It can also help you manage your stress so when you’re making important decisions, your brain can think clearly. In other words, when you manage your emotions you’re less likely to make mistakes.

3. It can save you from starting a war. 

If you’ve been married to your spouse for any length of time at all, you are probably both experts at pushing each other’s buttons. You know exactly what to say to send your spouse skyrocketing to Pluto. And your spouse knows exactly how to do the same to you.

The problem is that while you may understand what your emotional hot buttons are, you may also feel powerless to stop your spouse from pushing them. Plus, when you are getting a divorce, the tendency to poke at your spouse shoots into overdrive. When you poke, your spouse pokes back.

And so the war begins.

A good divorce therapist can help you manage your emotional triggers so that when your spouse pushes them, you don’t immediately fly into a frenzy. You learn coping mechanisms that will help you control your emotions, instead of being controlled by them.

Of course, all the coping mechanisms in the world won’t stop your spouse from doing stupid things. No amount of divorce counseling can turn your divorce from a complete nightmare into a walk in the park.

But, once you can control your own reactions, you will be able to seriously dial down the drama in your divorce. That, alone, can keep your divorce from turning into World War III.

4. It can save you from the Greek chorus.

When you’re getting a divorce, everyone you know is likely to have an opinion about what you should do. You "should" go to court. You "should" keep the house. You "should" do the same thing the person you are talking to did in his or her divorce. (Or, you should do what that person wishes they did in their divorce!)

The people who are so generously sharing their unprofessional advice with you mean well. Your family and friends love you. They want the best for you. But doing what is "best" does not necessarily mean doing the same thing that your bitter Aunt Emily did. (Sorry!)

Every divorce is different. Every family is unique. A divorce counselor has been specially trained in dealing with emotions, and in dealing with divorce. They have experience helping many people through divorce. They are not going to give you advice solely based on their own limited experience of divorce.

The divorce advice you get from a divorce therapist is, therefore, going to be qualitatively different from the divorce advice you get from your friends and family. It will also be much more reliable.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, your divorce counselor will also teach you how to manage your own emotions. They will teach you how to communicate with others more effectively. Not only will that help you deal with your spouse, but it will also help you handle your own "Greek chorus" of family and friends.

5. It can save you from feeling so alone.

Divorce is an inherently lonely pursuit. By definition, when you get a divorce, you split from your partner. But in divorce, you lose so much more than just your spouse.

You lose your primary relationship. You lose your safety net. When you divorce, you lose your social status. You lose a lot of your friends, and maybe even some of your family. You may lose your house, and possibly your kids. Worst of all, you lose your identity — your sense of who you are in the world.

What you may not realize (even though you may know it in your head) is that you’re not alone. You’re not the first person to go through a divorce and you won’t be the last.

A divorce counselor can help you put your life and your situation into perspective. They can hook you up with divorce support groups, where you can find other people who are going through the same tough time that you are.

Your divorce counselor will provide a place where you can vent your emotions freely, without worrying about how petty, angry, ugly, or pathetic you sound.

Just having someone to talk to who will listen without judgment and accept you for who you are can be an enormous relief. It can truly help you feel like you are human, that you are normal, and you will get through this tough time in your life.

Divorce therapy can make a gigantic difference in your divorce.

Getting counseling or therapy during divorce won’t magically transform your divorce into a Disney dream. No matter what you do, your divorce will still be painful and challenging. But having a divorce therapist by your side can make your divorce journey a little bit more bearable.

What’s even better is that, if you take the time and put in the effort to work through some of your own emotional stuff while you are going through your divorce, you will be that much more ready to create the life you want when your divorce is over.

You may not ever get the superpower or magic wand. But if you can get through your divorce without destroying your life, you just may be able to create a life that is even better. In the end, that may be the only superpower you need.

Karen Covy is a divorce adviser, attorney, coach, and mediator. To get more divorce advice, check out her divorce blog on her website.

This article was originally published at karencovy.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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