Couples’ counselling… for endings?
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2020 alone, 103,592 divorces were granted in England and Wales. That equates to around a third of marriages. Add to this the separations from other partnerships, it makes for a big number.
I recently read a BBC article* about the negative impact on children of divorce court cases. In this, Sir Andrew McFarlane says that many cases are ending up in court unnecessarily “because couples saw their issue as a legal issue, rather than a relationship issue”. He explains that “the law provides a structure… to resolve the dispute” but “in the end, it is not a legal issue, it’s a relationship problem that they have”. He suggests that around 20% of families would be better off dealing with these kinds of problems outside of the court room.
Couples often seek counselling for relationship concerns when they are experiencing difficult times and wanting to solve problems or better understand and grow their relationship. But couple sessions can also be very helpful in working through the emotional and often difficult and acrimonious matter of separation, particularly the what/how/who and when questions when children, beloved pets and other sensitivities are involved.
The courts should ideally be used to “rubber stamp” what you have already agreed. Court proceedings bring additional time, huge expense and trauma to all concerned. Especially the children.
While counselling doesn’t provide a legal service or seek to advise, it does provide a safe space where the negotiation of sticking points can be worked through with someone impartial. It will help to navigate the challenging conversations around the (inevitable) emotional energy that may become toxic and damaging if not resolved.
Counselling can support you in negotiating a way forward during the separation process and, if you have them, how your children can be considered fully and properly when communicating the new arrangements and decisions. Sharing this often painful and life changing information together and showing unity in this process means that they can be kept feeling safe and loved, ask questions and be reassured.
It is a fact of life that relationships and partnerships end. How we end them can make a huge difference to all those involved. As well as supporting children, it also can help provide insight into what did not work so well in your relationship so that, for example, any patterns can be prevented from re-occurring in the future.