Choices: A Story of Marriage and Divorce

 

As a person who is involved in the family law area of mental health, I see people every day who are faced with very difficult choices. A few months, I had a couple call to make and appointment to see me. They wanted to come in so they could get help preparing their preteen child for their divorce.

The couple’s marriage had been unstable for years and the father wanted to end the marriage. They only have one child and he felt as if the child were being put in the middle of their conflict too much of the time.

As the couple began to talk about their marriage and their history, it became evident to me that the marriage could potentially be saved. I, as a therapist, had a choice to make. Do I reflect back my observation that the marriage could potentially be saved or do I adhere to the goals with which they had presented?

I chose to have the “what if” conversation. What if you tried to work on the marriage? What if you worked on the things that have brought you to where you are today? What if another reality could be imagined?

The father was surprised. He said to me, “This is not what I came here to discuss.”

“I realize that. I understand why this could be confusing. It was not my plan to talk with you about working on your marriage either. However, I see a lot of couples and with the two of you I see potential.”

We have since had several sessions of marital therapy and last night we had a session with the child. We discussed how family life could be improved and what family life meant for the three of them. I explored with the child his emotions around his family life. We worked together to repair.

At the same time, I made it clear to the child that no one can predict the future and, yes, the thought of divorce is scary. At the same time that I was providing hope to this young child, I was also careful not to make any promises that I, or his parents, couldn’t keep.

I chose to help this family try to get back on its feet and the family chose to follow that path as well.

I hope they continue to make the right choices for themselves as individuals as well for their family. The end result may be divorce or it may be a healthier and better relationship and family life. Either way it will be continue to be my job to help them through this process and to offer alternative choices and realities along the way.

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In May and June of 2014 the Chain Reaction Theatre Project will be performing a production called “Choices” in Bloomington and Minneapolis. For more information go to http://chainreactiontp.com/performances/

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