Sometimes the hardest conversations, the ones we dread the most, provide the greatest opportunity for growth and change in a relationship. I thought about this after chatting with a friend about a tough time with her husband.
For her, the “D” word changed everything.
That’s right. I’m talking about Divorce.
What a loaded word!
It is fraught with meanings and emotions. While considering if she wanted a divorce she was overcome with questions like:
Should I get a divorce? Do I want a divorce? If I bring up divorce will things get worse? How will he react?
The decision to have the first divorce talk is hard. My friend had confided in her closest friend and her counselor. But uttering the word to her partner for the first time?
Wham! A game-changer.
The BIG Question: Should I Get A Divorce?
When the “D” word is on the table the proverbial pink elephant in the room is front and center.
My friend feared that bringing up the dreaded “D” word signaled the beginning of the end. And often it is.
end. And often it is.
Talking about divorce is often followed by many other uncomfortable “D” words: defensiveness; dumbfounded; debate; debacle; desperation; dagger; destitute; dark; denial…and for many couples once those negative “D” words are stated or felt the marriage is doomed.
But does a talk about divorce have to lead to a path of despair and destruction?
What if the big bad “D” word was followed by a different set of “D” words?
What If I Am Not Sure If I Want A Divorce?
How could you know for sure if this is the first time ever broaching the subject (exceptions like domestic violence aside)?
Imagine if the divorce talk involved more positive “D” words like dialogue, deference; dignity; discourse; delicate; discussion…
Having a talk about divorce does not have to mean doom for a marriage.
In fact, it can serve as an opportunity – a defining moment.
So What Happened With My Friend’s Divorce Talk?
For some couples, parting ways is the best resolution.
To my friend’s great relief, however, the initial divorce conversation opened up the channels of communication for her and her husband. Her husband recognized that by raising the idea of divorce, his wife was really saying, “I am really hurting and feel hopeless about our relationship…”
Talking about the reasons for divorce served as a catalyst for repair and healing.
They realized they still had love for one another.
The repair work can be painfully difficult nevertheless — and was for my friend.
She found that healing her marriage required replacing the negative “D” words with ones that were more productive.
Defensiveness, for example, was replaced with dialogue. Denial replaced with deliberation and discussion.
How Can I Put Aside All Those Big Bad “D” Words When I Have All These Reasons For Divorce?
Some, like my friend and her husband, seek the assistance of a therapist to deal with unresolved personal issues that are contributing to the marital conflict.
Others are putting in more effort to listen to one another.
Some work with a professional marital mediator to help them communicate more effectively and solve problems. (To learn more about the differences between marital mediation and couples therapy click here.)
If the big “D” word is spoken in your marriage think carefully before reacting. Do you want the conversation dominated by big bad “D” words? Or, do you want to shift the focus to more hopeful “D” words?
Your decision might save your marriage from the big “D”!
Please REPLY below if there have been times in your life when a difficult conversation led to a positive opportunity for growth or opportunity?
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