Divorce isn’t a failure, say therapists — in fact, it could mean the marriage was a success

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A marriage can still be considered successful even if it ends in divorce.
Couples therapists say marriage is designed to help people grow — and sometimes, they grow out of the relationship.
It’s important to embrace change in your relationship, instead of fearing it.

“Your marriage has one goal,” said Hal Runkel. “Marriage has evolved into a people-growing machine.”

Runkel is a marriage and family therapist based in Atlanta, Georgia, and he was explaining to me why he’s never attached to any one particular outcome in couples therapy. If the couple chooses to divorce after working with him, so be it — to him, that’s not a failure on his part or on the clients’.

Marriage, he told me, “is perfectly designed to help you grow up. It challenges your blind spots. Marriage will expose your selfishness. It’ll expose your immaturity. And that’s a good thing. It will continually ask you to grow in ways you couldn’t have anticipated.”

What sometimes happens is that one or both partners change so drastically that they come to the realization that their marriage isn’t helping them live the life they want. “Making a mature decision in that direction may be the best [therapeutic] outcome of all,” Runkel said.

This is a hard pill to swallow, if for no other reason than that it’s completely impractical: It can seem like there’s no point in getting married if you anticipate growing so much that you may one day grow out of your spousal identity.

Yet based on the many conversations I had with couples therapists for this story, I got the sense that it’s the resistance to the possibility of growth that makes a marriage (and life in general) even more difficult.

As Laura Markham, a psychologist in New York and the founder of Aha! Parenting, put it when I interviewed her for another story, about parents with different child-rearing styles, every clash is an opportunity to “grow yourself.” Markham added, “We don’t get married so we can grow, but honestly, it’s one of the best laboratories to do that.”

Put another way, if you’re so afraid of your marriage changing and then ending, you may wind up creating what you fear.

Rachel Zamore, a marriage and family therapist and the founder of InnerWell Integrative Counseling and Couples Therapy in Vermont, told me that people who accept the inevitability of change tend to do the best in relationships.

“Being able to embrace circumstances and experiences of our lives as an opportunity for growth and development as opposed to something that’s either making us unhappy or making us happy,” she said, is a key to relationship satisfaction. “We can have more agency than maybe we realize.”

A marriage that ends in divorce can still teach you about yourself and how you act in relationships

The internet is rife with treatises on how getting divorced doesn’t indicate that you failed at love or at life.

On CafeMom, Mary Hawkins likens leaving an unfulfilling marriage to leaving a dead-end job: “It means you had the presence …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Life


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