How does one begin the healing process?
- Acknowledging that marriage brings together two imperfect people
Acknowledging and accepting one’s areas of inadequacies as a spouse is the beginning of healing. When a marriage does not work, it is not because of the issues of just one of the partner but both of them. It is okay to rewind then see where you made mistakes and what lessons you can learn from it.
Allow yourself to be human enough because no human being is perfect. Every human being makes mistakes. Instead of allowing the mistakes to bog you down and make you feel hopeless, appreciate your own humanity.
Forgive yourself of the mistakes made and begin to acknowledge that there are lessons you can learn and those lessons can help you moving forward or you can use them to help someone else. So instead of focusing on the mistakes made, acknowledging them and most importantly, draw lessons.
- Acknowledging your own hurt
Acknowledge the other partner’s wrong. Acknowledge that they hurt you deeply and that you are a wounded person. Acknowledge that separation has caused you wounds. Allow your wounded self to heal. How do you allow your wounded self to heal? By acknowledging the heartaches and the wounds caused.
Begin to look at your journey and the kind of person you have become. Look at yourself and acknowledge that you have constant feelings of bitterness, resentment for example, you have become very irritable, you dislike, mistrust or hate people of the opposite gender, etc.
Recognize that these are emotional wounds that have been caused by your spouse, not by all members of the opposite gender. Once you realize that what is happening has not been caused by all the men or all the women in the world. It is that one particular person that wronged you and did whatever they did and that the specific individual is not representative of the whole world.
When you get to that stage, you begin to realize that it is you that is wounded and that you are looking at the world through the world of your pain and not through facts. To heal wounds, talk about what happened to someone who can listen without judging you.
Most of the time it is very difficult to find such a person or let me put it this way, that very few people have such a person. This is where therapy comes in. If you realize that you have no one to talk to, then look for a therapist because you will talk as much as possible and they will allow you to.
If you cannot find someone to talk to, you can also write. You can write your feelings at the end of every day or at the beginning of every day so that you are able to allow the feelings flow and once the feelings flow, you become aware of what you feel each day.
If you do not have someone to talk to, and if writing does not work for you, then it is time to seek therapy. A therapist will give you non-judgmental attitude. Once you are in the healing process, become aware of the outcomes of separation. Separation can lead to divorce and it can also lead to reconciliation. What are the measures to take in reconciliation?
Number one, ensure that all the unresolved issues have been resolved. Let me say that I do not recommend reconciliation through family, elders, etc. This is because most of the time a human being’s behavior change is hardly influenced by the family that brought them up.
If the conflicts are between how a woman and how a man was brought up since both of them were brought up in two very distinct and unique families, it is very difficult for the woman’s family to see her mistakes especially if the mistakes are as a result of how they brought her up.
The same applies to the case of the man’s family. In most occasions, the families will not see the mistakes of their own. The same case applies to the issue of elders since the way someone is, has a lot to do with what is common within a community. The elders might not be in a position to see things from a different viewpoint.
I therefore would not recommend reconciliation through family. I would recommend professional services at this point so that the issues are competently solved. Why would I recommend professional services? Because a professional is neutral, understands the dynamics of health or lack of it in families as well as in individuals and can moderate so that the two people who are involved discuss and begin to promote health moving forward in their marital journey.
Now, let me talk about co-parenting especially if a marriage ends up in divorce. Co-parenting is a very tough dynamic on its own. Why? Because unless the two parents involved have totally healed from the wounds caused by separation, they are likely to have issues in co-parenting.
One of the things I have learned is that if one person heals or is able to manage their emotions that come with separation and the other is not, co-parenting becomes very difficult. So, parents have to be deliberate about dealing with their anger and resentment so that they are not passing their issues onto the children because children need both parents.
It is also true that in co-parenting, one parent especially the one who is away, may not be as committed as the parent who is living with the children. In many occasions the parent who is living away may promise to pick the children and not do it and most of the time the parent who is living with the children may feel compelled to cover up for the parent who has not kept their bit of commitment. This again does not need to happen.
If you are the parent that is living with the children, you need to understand that your responsibility is not to cover up for the errors of omission or committed by the other parent. Your responsibility also is not to make the other parent look irresponsible in the presence of the children.
What you need to do is to own up to your own issues and let the other parent own up to their own. Therefore, when children lament or ask; “why didn’t mummy or daddy pick us up?” you do not go into giving excuses on behalf of the other parent; “mummy was working, daddy was working,” etc., unless that is true. If that is not the case, they just failed on their pickup day then you need to be honest with the children and say; “I also don’t know why mummy or daddy did not pick you up.
When mummy or daddy comes to pick you up, then please ask them what happened the day they did not pick you up.” This way you will teach the children to be able to face the other parent as children, not to own up on the basis of the other parent and also learn not to cover up so that when the children are of age they will not begin to look at you differently because you were covering up for the parent that was not committed to their responsibility of parenting.
By Joan Kirera-family therapist. For more visit www.joankirera.com