Divorcing well? Divorcing peacefully? Is such a thing even possible? Let's face it, divorce often generates mutual recrimination and fury, which can lead to ugly, expensive court battles, particularly when children are involved. During a divorce, both partners can become their own evil twins, more intent on inflicting punishment on each other than on ending their tattered marriage.
As counselors and family therapists, we want to spare our clients all this pain by preserving and improving their marriages. But when the marriage obviously can't be saved, many therapists focus on helping the partners achieve what's widely called a "good divorce": a split as humane, rational, and nondamaging as possible.
Increasingly, therapists recognize that even after a marriage ends, most couples continue to be linked together. While the death of a marriage is undoubtedly painful, it doesn't have to be pathological. If handled well, it can even become a rich opportunity for emotional and spiritual growth.
Yet, to a couple neck deep in the kind of reciprocal fury that only two people who once loved each other deeply can feel, the idea that their divorce could be an opportunity for transformation is as crazy as it is undesirable.
Is there any way to stop the antagonism? Beyond helping these self-declared enemies shed their feelings of anger and vengeance, is it possible to encourage them to be more openhearted and kindly toward each other? I've drawn six…