Guest blogger, Taryn Kelley is an expert of her own experiences and the daughter of divorced parents who split up in her early adulthood. Divorce and separation is complicated at every stage, and Taryn brings new perspective to the conversation.
One night my parents sat me down and told me that my mother was moving out. I was 19, and let me tell you, it was a punch in the gut. I was in college and living on my own with a full life, but in that moment I felt as though I was five again. My parents had always been an unshakeable unit, a united team of nearly perfect parenting that I thought would never change. But that night I felt my world crash around me. As an adult child of divorced parents I understood the implications and emotional distress that we were all going through, and it was a pain more acute than can be described. But, I’m not here to make anyone feel worse, I’m here to tell you that everything will be OK.
In many situations the options are black or white – should you stay with your current partner, or is it time to end the relationship? However, humans operate in a world of finely nuanced grays, and the answer to hard questions is often more complex than a single “yes” or “no”.
Other resources have always existed to help a single partner or a couple resolve these difficult questions. These alternatives include individual therapy, couples counseling or pastoral counseling. But each of these resources have a particular goal. For example; the individual therapist hopes to help you be comfortable with your own identity and, in order to do that, has to create a therapeutic alliance with you, necessarily excluding your partner’s interests. Similarly, couples counseling usually has the goal of a helping couple to communicate better in order to preserve their existing relationship.
But what, if like many of us, one or both of the parties is not even sure she or he wants to preserve the relationship? What if both parties are unsure whether it is worth investing the significant time, energy and openness that couples counseling needs to succeed? Often one party is “leaning in” to the relationship, while the other is “leaning out”, but both are uncertain.