Divorce—A Healing Process? Sometimes, Yes.

There are dozens of books and web pages about how to heal from a divorce. What few people talk about is how a divorce can itself be a healing process. Here are a few circumstances where that might be true — situations where a married couple might actually begin a healing process by splitting up:

  • Your lives are going in radically different directions. Marriage, at its finest, is a journey two people take together through life. But what happens when your individual paths go in different directions? It starts a push–pull dynamic where each member of the marriage partnership tries — vainly — to drag the other in the direction he or she wants to go. Even couples who communicate well can find themselves at odds if each spouse stands to find significant personal, financial, or lifestyle rewards by sticking to their own direction. And it’s especially tough to maintain a marriage if one or both partners’ attempts to “follow their bliss” might mean long separations from their spouse (this is a commonly cited issue in celebrity divorces.) For such couples, divorce is the end of a long struggle to deny the fact that their journey together has reached the farthest point possible, and it’s the right moment in life to say farewell. But once they’ve finally begun the process, the realization brings closure — and allows them to stay lifelong friends.
  • You and your spouse are emotionally divorced already. You could be two strangers living in the same house. You haven’t had sex in eons—in fact, your skin crawls when he touches you. Sometimes, you feel dead inside. But this is no way to live life! If you want more — and most people do — you owe it to yourself to decide on either counseling, or divorce. If counseling isn’t an option (it only works if both people are invested), then filing for divorce could give you both a new lease on life, freeing each of you to find the joy and fulfillment you’re missing.
  • You’re in a dysfunctional relationship.  You were once happy newlyweds, but 15 years later, your spouse is belittling everything you do and exploding in anger over little things. You think your spouse may have a substance abuse problem. And you’ve heard rumors there’s “someone else” — yet your spouse gets mad when a friend mentions your childhood sweetheart. You suggested marital counseling, only to get a flat refusal. You’re having trouble sleeping, and you constantly feel stressed and tense, even frightened. But, you think, I promised to be here for better or for worse… True enough. But you did not promise to tolerate emotional or physical abuse — and this scenario could easily devolve into domestic abuse. If your spouse is unwilling to work to improve the marriage, seeking a divorce before you become trapped in a dangerous situation is your wisest and most personally healing decision.