Divorce or breakup is one of the most stressful situations in a person’s life. In fact, it is about a duel or a rupture with the couple, with a way of life, which gives rise to many implications on the personal, family, social and professional level.
A divorce involves leaving behind feelings, possessions, common projects or, at the very least, putting them back in your life, and facing a new situation, uncertain and unknown. And of course … The most recent scares us and scares us!
If there are no children, divorce may be a smoother transition by affecting fewer people and facilitating reorganization. Either way, it had a profound effect on your own emotions and on the tangible and intangible assets you have in common with your ex-partner.
As an example of a tangible asset, we would have the decisions to make regarding the house (whether to sell it or who will keep it) which would involve considering a change of residence and readjustment to work with a single inflow of money. We also cannot forget such intangible aspects such as the need to clarify and redefine family and friendships (especially if they are common).
The psychological implications of divorce with children
Divorce with children involves a more complex situation than before, affecting more people. In these cases, when a rupture is contemplated, a number of issues arise and should be considered in advance.
1. What will be the impact of our decision on the children?
Here we are referring to the concern of whether our breakup will affect our children and if there is a possibility that they will have future sequelae and what it could be.
2. How to communicate it to children
Another key aspect that we question in the pre-separation stage is how we communicate it to children.
What we tell them and if they will understand is a common question that arises among parents.. This often involves overcoming the fear in our own emotions (not being able to speak, not being able to stop crying, or not knowing how to contain our children’s emotions as we incorporate them into our decision).
The optimal timing for communicating it to children is also essential. However, before you communicate it to the children, you need to think about the changes that will take place in family life and what the future organization will be like, as your children will ask you to.
3. The need to develop a new way of living together
The parental plan is the document that would bring together this new conception of post-rupture coexistence. It should reflect who will have custody of the children (it will be exclusive, shared), the time the children will spend in each of the homes (during the week, weekends and holidays), as well as communication between parents ( important issues, what is the ideal way to communicate it – WhatsApp, phone, mail …) and how the relationship of the children with the parent with whom they are not currently will be articulated.
The challenge of adapting to the new situation
Today, we find more and more cases in which it is the parents themselves who conclude agreements on shared custody or it is the judge who grants it. Thus, the 2019 data published in the INE survey reveal that shared custody is the custody system that governs 37.5% of divorce and separation cases of couples with children.
As we expected, the decision to break up is not at all easy. The more children you have, the more complicated the decision can be, although other factors such as the age of the children are obviously influenced, if any of them are in a particular situation or have a degree of vulnerability (sensory, physical or emotional difficulties)).).
Another factor that can complicate and delay the emotional and legal process of separation (with or without children) occurs when common spaces are shared between the two protagonists of the rupture.
An example would be that one has a working relationship with the other. In these cases, whether you continue to work with your ex-partner or quit work and look for a new job, it is an additional source of stress. In the first case, you will find yourself in the workplace and the boundaries have to be redefined; in the second case, a change of post involves a search process and subsequent adaptation to the new organization and the new post.
Having the same network of friends could also complicate the breakup and post-breakup period., Because either there is a maturity between the same people who separate and friendships, in the sense that they do not position themselves with one or the other, or, if not, one of the two people must cease to be in touch with them and must build a new network of contacts; and that means time and excessive effort.
87% of separations and 79% of divorces in 2019 were by mutual agreement, without differentiating whether they were children or childless. This percentage is encouraging and indicates that most people are entering a new chapter in their life after having accepted in a “civilized” way to break up. In fact, this question makes it possible to “close this chapter of his life”, the past, with a certain maturity, and to concentrate on all the questions which arise in the present and in the future.
What to do?
In case you are planning to separate, and especially if there are children, it is important to consider these issues.:
- Try to find viability in the relationship. It will help you to be calm in the future as you have done everything in your power to make things run smoothly.
- In the event that this is not possible and you decide to continue the breakup, ask yourself the questions we have mentioned: repercussions on the children, new organization (Parenting Plan), changes of residence, work, friendships.
- Agree and agree with your partner as many assumptions as possible. It is you who know perfectly your life, your children and the emotional issues and the peculiarities of each of them.
- If you need to resolve any emotional or child-related questions, you can ask them to an expert psychologist in family and in separations and break-ups (forensic psychologist). If the questions relate to legal proceedings, ask your lawyer.
After the physical separation is complete, try not only to be mindful of your emotional, financial, social, but also you must be attentive to the emotional development of your children.
Some of their behaviors can be misinterpreted if the post-breakup period is contextualized and they could be adaptive. However, if after a while you continue to see the attitude and behavior showing signs of discomfort and unadjusting, it is time to seek the help of a professional expert in the field, for your detection and subsequent solution.
In conclusion, a break doesn’t always have to be a negative thing, as it is often the only viable solution. If this alternative is chosen jointly by both spouses and is carried out in a mature perspective, surely your children will go through a process of functional change.
And remember: the adjustment of children to a break-up process is proportional to the adjustment of adults. If you agree, so will they.
Fr PSYCHOTOOLS we offer psychological counseling, mediation and parental coordination services by professionals who are experts in the field. Contact our Center and request a free, non-binding orientation visit.
Author: Marisol Ramoneda, psychologist.