You meet, you date, you fall in love.
You get engaged, you get married, you have kids, you separate.
You get divorced.
During this process you get to meet the many faces of the person you married and truly observe their emotional maturity as well as your own. Typically, it's ugly.
Why is this?
Why does the attraction and love that brought two people together turn into a vile and torturous departure?
How can people get so angry they will do anything to hurt or destroy the person they once vowed to love for a lifetime?
How can they put their children in the middle of this situation at times using the children to hurt or punish their ex?
From what I have observed in my practice, the problem usually stems from either one or both partners' lack of emotional maturity.
What is emotional maturity?
Simply put it is the ability to manage your emotions in a healthy and regulated manner; being able to think a situation through thoroughly before reacting to it. We could all use a dose of that these days. With instant communication methods such as texting, Twitter and Facebook to name just a few, there is little time for contemplation. Little time for calming yourself long enough to challenge the thoughts you might be having.
Often these thoughts are faulty, clouded by emotional pain and injury to the ego. Taking a minute to feel the pain you are experiencing, think about the thoughts causing the pain and challenge those thoughts brings about a more mature and evolved response. This process is called a thought triangle.
So often we assume how we feel starts with the emotion itself. Not so. How we feel starts with a thought, a thought about a situation or incident. Frequently that thought is wrong or incomplete, creating a false feeling. And it is that false feeling that guides our behavior – behavior we often regret.
I encourage my clients to think about their thoughts; correct them or complete them when necessary then feel the pain of the emotion that responded to the corrected thought.
Imagine you discovered your husband of 22 years has been having an affair for the last two. What will take away your pain?
Will calling the woman take it away, exposing her to her family or to her employer, slashing his tires or his suits, telling the kids what a slug he is, burning his baseball card collection? No, none of these things will take away your pain.
There is little alternative than to feel it. All of the behavior used with the intention of easing your pain, somehow evening the score, will only make the situation worse and delay the inevitable. You cannot escape feeling the pain.
So how do you feel this pain without trying to cause your ex equal pain, without falling apart yourself, or dragging your kids down with you?
The Top 3 things You Need To Know About Divorce and Emotional Maturity
Get support! You do not have to go through this alone. Of course you should not be reaching out to his mother for support, but sharing this with close friends or a professional will help keep you balanced and grounded.
Engage in self care! So often when a crisis hits we are the last ones on the list, yet in these situations you need to make yourself first. Not only will you become depleted, you won't have anything to give to the ones who depend on you. And this is a teachable moment in time for your children. Model for them how to successfully get through crisis and pain- It will be a lifelong lesson.
Move forward! Standing still is very tempting when pain grips us. But don't give in. If you have decided this pain is too deep to heal staying in the marriage then leave. If you have decided the marriage is worth working on then work on it. If you can't make a decision about the marriage then make one about yourself. Do some soul searching. This is your time to allow vulnerability and pain to crack off your shell and find your identity.
This time of crisis does not have to bring you down to your lowest emotional functioning level of all time. It can be an opportunity for you to flourish and grow in ways you never imagined. To meet your pain head on as well as the darts thrown at you from the pain of your ex.
If you or a loved one are experiencing this type of relationship crisis and would like support, please feel free to reach out to me for either questions or an appointment. Contact Deb here.
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