Divorce – Great Expectations!
In this blog, FLiP’s in house therapist and divorce consultant, Andrew Pearce, discusses how to manage feelings of uncertainty when going through a divorce or separation.
We live in a society where it is increasingly difficult to avoid the incessant beat of the media drum (in all its forms). It can be quite seductive and even compelling to keep scrolling, keep up to date, not miss out etc. It’s the modern equivalent perhaps of looking over the garden fence to see what the neighbours are up to or maybe feeling the need to “keep up with the Joneses.”
For many people this builds anxiety over time which starts to feel normal and probably manageable, just keep pedalling the bike a bit faster! If faced with a stressful situation it can quite quickly develop into feeling overwhelmed and struggling to cope. A prime example is relationship breakdown, divorce and separation, and the uncertainty associated with it.
The feelings are often intensely uncomfortable and frightening. In order to manage the uncertainty we create expectations of ourselves, our partner, our family and friends and professionals. The more we raise our expectations the more brittle and less resilient we become.
Some examples include:
- Self; be strong, stick to my guns, I know what is right/fair, I must win, personal agenda/timescales, predetermined idea of outcome, I should be able to cope, I won’t let it affect me.
- Partner; to be fair, balanced & reasonable, to take our views into account, to back down, to treat us with respect, they should act/behave/respond in a certain way etc.
- Family and friends; to be in our corner/take sides, to speak truth/to NOT speak truth, to have endless patience.
- Professionals; to “fix” it, get us our outcome, for there to be justice (according to us!), to do our bidding, after all we’re paying!
The work (and it IS work!) is acceptance of the situation as it is and work to focus on changing that which is directly in our control rather than get caught up in what belongs to others, which is SO tempting! The “other” is having their own experience of the situation which is unlikely to correlate directly with our own. We are likely to feel let down, disappointed and resentful if our expectation is for things to run to our own agenda & ideas.
In short, focus on what is happening in your garden rather than looking over the garden fence, prioritise self care and let a bit more water flow. Oh, and avoid the urge to retaliate or escalate.
If you recognise yourself being caught up in the above during your divorce or separation, it may well help to talk it through with a specialist, like Jo Harrison (FLiP’s other in house therapist and divorce consultant), or me. Neither of us has a magic wand but we do have a lot of experience with supporting people navigating the choppy waters and stormy seas of divorce and separation.
Andrew Pearce is one of our in-house therapists. He is a UKCP Registered Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor. At FLiP Andrew’s practice includes supporting individuals and couples across a wide range of family issues including divorce and separation.
For further information and advice, please look at our dedicated therapy and divorce consultancy page, or contact a member of our expert team on email@example.com or T: 020 7420 5000.