Divorce Is Not Necessarily Failure

by Peter Magee on February 28, 2014

Peter Magee

In an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 15 June 2013 titled “Here’s Reason to Celebrate: Divorce Doesn’t Equal Failure” Wendy Squires states that:

“In the past three years, three couples I know have decided to divorce and, from the continuing complaints I am hearing from both parties of another, it is likely they won’t make Christmas either.

Squires goes on to say:

“The reasons for their splits were varied but, having now spoken to all parties, they can be summed up by saying they grew apart: that they are different people than they were when they married, and so are their partners. …  But there is another factor they all shared: they described their marriage as a failure. 

Squires goes on to explain that she does not view “ended marriages as being failures”, especially ones that have successfully raised children:

“To me their end is better considered a natural attrition, a part of the life cycle.  One door closing and another opening, allowing in fresh air and scope to breath.  A painful decision, yes – always – but unreasonably so when loaded with the unnecessary guilt of unreasonable and outdated expectations such as ‘till death do us part’.

Squires then shares her view that couples should not stay together simply for the sake of the children.  She recalls that her parents did not get on and implies that perhaps greater damage would have been inflicted on her and her brother if they had continued to argue for a further ten years rather than separate.

She goes on to say that now, as an adult, she would “Hate to think my mother could have been denied the deep love and happiness she found with my beloved stepfather, or we his incredible support and nurturing.”

She goes on to state that, in her view, it is important for children to see role models of “mutual respect and love, not dysfunction and hostility”.

She also explains more recent research by, for example, Melbourne psychologist Sabina Read states that whilst divorce is difficult for children and can certainly affect them deeply, this may in part be because parents “do not explain the situation adequately”.

Read states that:

“Kids need to know that they are still loved, wanted, cherished and that new partners are not going to be loved more than they are… they also need to be told – a lot – that it is not their fault”. 

Read also goes on to say: “There absolutely can be a wonderful and positive outcome down the line.” 

When I see clients I must say they are not usually so celebratory about the fact that they have separated from their partner.

However, I do think the article makes a good point in saying that, just because a relationship has ended it does not mean it is, so to speak “a failure”.  Just because it is right to end something it does not mean that it was wrong to be in it while it lasted.  Also, it is hard to say that you regret a relationship which, as Squires says, has produced children which you love and cherish.

The article also makes a point that, as time goes on; it is possible that “down the line” there can be “wonderful and positive outcomes”.

The difficult part is getting through the separation which can be an extremely stressful and unhappy time and eventually reaching a point where you can look back and feel positive about where your life is going again.

Part of a Family lawyer’s role is to help a client navigate the legal landscape during the difficult period when they are separating so that one day they are able to move on from the separation to a point where they can look back and are in a better place.

As lawyers, of course, there are limits to what we can assist you with and in terms of life lessons learnt and emotional healing; this is something that a solicitor probably does not have the expertise to really guide you through. I do often recommend that client’s seek the help of a therapist such as a counsellor to assist them with this.

However, in terms of guiding you through at times a fairly complicated and confusing legal process, we are more than qualified to do this.

If you would like to book in with a Family lawyer at Armstrong Legal please contact us (02) 9261 4555 for an obligation free initial consultation.

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