Divorce as the 'Good Enough' Option
13th February, 2008
The Dalai Lama said, "Generally speaking once your in a difficult situation, it is not possible to change your attitude simply by adopting a particular thought once or twice. Rather it's a thought process of learning, training, and getting used to new viewpoints that enables you to deal with difficulty."
People in the 1960s were trying to change attitudes by creating an atmosphere about peace, love, flower power, equality and hope. Following this 'me decade' the divorce rate increased resulting in the erosion of family values. Women were advised to stand up for themselves, perhaps at the expense of their parental rights. Men too were denied authority over their families and these trends continue today. The demise of the family unit was corroded to such an extent that the welfare state, schools, peer groups and the helping professionals, can and do, take over responsibility for child care, when in their eyes, parents fail to meet certain criteria.
Sociologists and psychoanalists studying the effects on individuals and society pacify us, by saying that every era develops its own habits regarding child care.
The impact of divorce and second marriages on people and their children is enormous. The experience is without doubt a crisis in life, but it can also present a window of opportunity that gives hope for future happiness and self-development. This is a stance commonly encouraged by today's fashion for self-help and development in the form of goal orientated life coaching gurus.
However, there are dangers in moving on too quickly. Important decisions made in haste and alone might not serve you as well as an informed decision made over time.
People are never quite the same following the loss of a spouse, no matter how many years elapse. The more emmotionally enmeshed the person remains, the greater the amount of bitterness ensues. A period of mourning is necessary, which will include abandoning hope for the relationship and an acceptance that life will be different. For example, homes might be split and lifestyles inevitably change for the whole family. If these losses and changes are not processed, disappointment may lead to despair and breakdown. I have experienced first hand how clients going through a divorce situation, seemed hooked on the idea of moving on, rather than working through the pain of separation.
Modern society has moved away from the idea that, once born into a family, sons and daughters will follow in their parents footsteps by carrying on the business and traditions. Our new world is always in a state of flux and change therefore we have to make decisions as a result of possible consequences, and not by looking back at historical certainties and expectations.
Acceptance of internal conflicts is a very necessary part of being human, Freud too famously talked of, 'normal human misery'. Some psychanalysts talk about resolving human conflict, perhaps they look for an ideal world consisting of ideal people. However people are not perfect nor are we in an ideal world and for some folk divorce might be the only option.
Donald Winnicot coined the phrase "Good Enough" and perhaps embracing a 'good enough' approach to life and divorce might be a realistic and achievable goal
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