Knowing that divorce is just the symptom and not the cause can give great relief. Recognise how you got into this situation and what you can do about - either to get over it, make it flow more smoothly, or to stop it.
This is not something you will want to read if you want to keep blaming someone else - but ultimately, get this ... you are going to keep on hurting big style until you take a new approach.
Divorce is not a disease, it is not infectious, it is not contagious, it is not carried in the genes. What it actually is, is a symptom of difference – different stages of lives, different values, different needs, different wants, different perspectives, different expectations, different stress levels, different degrees of flexibility and adaptability. Napoleon Bonaparte cautioned his soldiers when marrying as 2nd Lieutenants that they must remember that one day they could be captains and generals and to marry accordingly – they were likely to progress up the ladder and as such it was imperative that their partner was capable of doing the same. Those with the greatest degree of flexibility and adaptability excel at changing circumstances. Those who are stuck in a rut believing something has always been a certain way, has worked up till now therefore why change it, get left behind.
I read an article recently highlighting the speed of change in society today. I remember black and white television, I remember old money, I remember when I was first introduced to computers, mobile phones, emails, women in the board room, automatic washing machines, etc. The speed of change, the availability of information, the shrinking world, the requirement to take individual responsibility and pay heed to global responsibility has made enormous and fundamental differences to the way we live. How do two people who are different in many ways, yet similar in others grow through the chaos of change? Whether someone is willing to change is the answer, whether someone is willing to take on a new perspective, to be understanding, to stop clinging to something which has rapidly become outdated. Do you still wear your 80’s clothing? Constant calibration is required when we work with shifting sands – some of which we impose upon ourselves, some dictated by society, some by the work we do, some that of the evolving family dynamics and we have a responsibility to ourselves and those around us to notice what is actually happening in our lives.
It is almost superfluous to say, though I will anyway because it is so crucial, that hiding one’s head in the sand ostrich style is futile. The need to change your thinking and the ability to communicate your feelings is key to getting through change and grow. Hiding behind fear of things being different is no good – either they are or they aren’t and it is just a fact and the quicker you get used to it and accept it the better. Holding onto an image or thought of the past, kind of puts you in no-man’s land - you can’t go forward to something else, and you can’t go back as it’s gone. If you order a cappuccino and the waitress comes along with a hot chocolate – what will you do? You can rant and rave and complain to the management – however it doesn’t actually change what’s in the cup does it? Change further affects the synergy between two people – synergy being where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts – that’s like when 1 + 1 doesn’t equal 2 it equals 3.
Many times couples find that the synergy they create is what they fall in love with. Over time with changes what happens is that one person’s 100% starts to reduce, by say 25% - so if he/she is working at 75% and the other is still at 100% then the level of synergy drops too. If both individuals stop working at 100%, or conversely start to work at 150%, then the synergy level starts to change dramatically and that’s what makes the relationship suddenly feel so different. It is often reported that someone has changed, they aren’t the same person I married – well no of course they aren’t! How could they be? What experiences have they been through, what trainings, what new jobs, what new friends, what new sports, what books have they been reading, what travelling have you done, how many years have passed.
My response to a client who tells me that someone has changed is to check whether they feel they have changed and if not, why not! If divorce is a symptom therefore, it means that there is an underlying cause which has created the effect. This is not a situation which a sticky plaster will heal – this is a situation which can only be sorted with ‘open heart surgery’ - if you both take the time to really explore what your differences are now – with an open mind, with the willingness to take on the other person’s point of view, with the understanding that just because you two were once one, either or both of you has changed – and you might find resistance to it, or you might find that there’s willingness and flexibility and adaptability.
You can accept that there are now differences and you can choose to take steps to make changes to yourself or your way of thinking – however you cannot and must not make someone else change to fit your way.
The Divorce Coach