parents arguing in front of childrenMarriage and divorce are common experiences in Western culture. According to the American Psychological Association, 90 percent of the people living in the United States marry by the age of 50. Children will often experience more problems when parents remain in high-conflict marriages instead of splitting up. No one expects a marriage to end in failure. However, according to data from the government’s National Survey of Family Growth, 20 percent of first marriages end in divorce within 5-years and 48 percent of marriages dissolve by the 20-year mark.

Healthy marriages are good for couples' mental and physical health. In addition, a healthy marriage is also good for children, growing up in a happy home protects children from mental, physical, educational and social problems. The same circumstances apply to a healthy divorce. A healthy separation or divorce is good not only for the couple but also for the children involved. Even though separation and divorce are difficult events, it is possible to have a healthy breakup.

This is Not a Battle

One of the first steps to a healthy breakup is to try and not think of it as a battle. Remember your part of a family team and more often teams need a coach to mediate. It is often believed that the couple must work things out alone, which can become tiring, self-defeating and frustrating. However, research shows that mediation, instead of lawyers fighting, can be beneficial for emotional satisfaction, spousal-relationships and meeting the children’s needs.

Additionally, the use of a mediator who is trained in mediation can help to stop ongoing parental conflicts that may cause psychological and social problems developing in children and for the couple. Mediation can be flexible, more cost-effective, and allows for the couple to settle disagreements together. The divorce mediator is neutral and doesn’t work for either parent.

Consider Therapy

The reality of divorce in the United States brings up the need for people to deal with anger, grief, anxiety, and fear. These feelings are certainly not always predictable. The ending of a marriage may spark feelings that catch you off guard, that is normal. However, open dialogue with a mental health professional can help to deal with unpredictable emotions, improve communication and assist with the adjustment to the changes in the family.

Divorce is difficult for the entire family. It has been proven that divorcing spouses and their children can greatly benefit from speaking with a mental health professional. A trained psychotherapist can help the couple to see what went wrong in the marriage and resolve negative feelings so there can be better co-parenting. The children benefit from having open and honest conversations about the changes taking place in the family.

Divorce can be traumatic, but research suggests that most children adjust well within two years following the divorce with good support. Parents can do more to ease a child’s transition during a divorce. Parents can role model. positive behavior, have greater empathy and be greatly supportive. And of course, a mental health professional can help to keep the lines of communication open in the family as well.

Have a Plan

Divorcing parents need to develop a plan and then share it with their children. In many cases, sudden changes can be hard on children. The couple should seriously consider giving their children a few weeks’ notice before anyone moves into a new home or out of the family home. The family should discuss the living arrangements in detail, the financial changes, how the holidays will be spent, and if parents will start dating. All discussions should be age-appropriate of course but everyone knowing the plan makes for a better transition.

Self-Care is Super Important

The final consideration would be great self-care. The couple needs to take care of their individual emotional and physical needs. The unique challenges bought about during a separation and divorce can become overwhelming. It is essential for the couple to tap into their support network and even get assistance from a formal support group in their community. It is vitally important for the couple to take care of their individual needs for mental and physical well-being. Staying positive and getting involved in activities that you enjoy are key.

Maintaining healthy eating habits and getting regular physical exercise help support a healthy breakup. Remember, a healthy divorce is possible if it is not thought of as war. It is possible to create a well thought out plan that supports the foundation of a healthy divorce.

Nicole Daniels
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