Depressing Divorce Process

My sole practice (specializing in worker’s compensation) has suffered greatly since my wife told me that she wants a divorce. I’ve known that our communication has been poor over the years, but her current stance completely took me by surprise. I’m in the process of moving to a friend’s apartment, and although I still see the kids, I am missing our daily routines together and am in a lot of emotional pain. My concentration is shot, I’m losing sleep, and I’m blowing up at people who don’t deserve it. Should I be taking antidepressants or something?

There is no medication that can or should take away the pain of a dissolving marriage and family. Separation and divorce, although more common these days, are among the most wrenching and stressful experiences, often triggering feelings of loss and failure, and shaking one’s sense of role and identity. Compounding the situation are the financial strains and the level of conflict, blame, and hurt that may accompany the process. The impact on children, mirrored in your own pain about your relationship with them, is very significant and sad.

Although there is no “right” way to handle your situation, we do have some general recommendations:

Support — This is a time to stay close with family and friends. A therapist or support group can also help you express how you feel;

Structure — At a time of great flux in your thoughts, feelings and domestic life, try to institute daily routines and activity, including in your work;

Children — Give your kids plenty of attention, preferably at predictable times, and adapt your rituals with them to the new situation. Avoid putting them in the middle by burdening them with your feelings about your wife, or by trying to communicate with her through them. Remind them often that they did not cause the breakup and that both parents will always love them;
War is Hell — While you must acknowledge your anger (though not necessarily vent it at your wife), it will be best in the long run to reduce conflict and unforgivable hurts. You and your spouse will remain co-parents and should minimize the scars and bitterness of an all-out war. For many couples, professional mediation services by an appropriately trained attorney or therapist is an approach that can save money, aggravation and unnecessary polarization.

If you find yourself seriously depressed for an extended time despite getting the kinds of support noted above, you may want to consider antidepressants. In any case, LCL is available to help you think through the situation and identify supportive resources. Just call for an appointment.

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