At the beginning of this week, the writing for the post ran freely, but I couldn’t think of a suitable title (Insert Title Here), and today I am so clear about title (Marriage Mentality: Child of Divorce), but I don’t know what to write… where to start?!
Here’s the reason… This is such a big, important issue, I have discovered I know very little about. The more I explored this topic, the more I realized the multitude of research that is out there – how could I possibly synthesize a useful summary for readers?
Now that you know you are not going to get that, I feel freer to share my own limited anecdotal insights.
These insights come from the couple therapy work, we have been doing over the last couple months. After only 2 sessions, the therapist perceptively noted that much of our tension/misunderstandings stem from an absence of a ‘marriage mentality’ between us. My wife is a child of divorce – a very hostile and divisive separation, with conflict/tension that never fully resolved i.e. far from the ideal amicable divorce.
If, as a child, you watched your parents fighting every day, and later divorcing, you’re going to be affected by their behavior whether you acknowledge it or not. Dr Carmen Harra
Besides such a divorce being a factor for potential emotional or psychological troubles, without the modelling of a healthy marriage, it makes total sense that my wife would have difficulty relating to ‘marriage mentality’. It’s not that we hadn’t thought about this over the years, especially during other periods of couple counselling, but the absence of this perspective combined with other current challenges, made it’s importance more clear. For example, it likely plays a large role in wife’s default thoughts that I am not happy with her, that I’m criticizing or controlling when in my communication, or thinking that we don’t need to discuss many issues that she assumes apparently only affects her.
Explaining ‘marriage mentality’ to someone who has never experienced it, seemed quite a challenge. So we resorted to trying to find a bunch of synonym phrases: thinking as a couple, unity focussed, “same team” perspective, ‘us’ mentality, perceiving a unit (distinct entity separate from either me or you), and like 2 halves of a single soul! But there’s a difference from intellectually hearing it, to actually feeling ‘us’. Thinking ‘us’. Being ‘us’.
That was our homework 2 weeks ago and thankfully it’s helping, gradually. We shared a few really cool marriage tips blog posts and made time to talk nearly every evening. Actually, this has likely played a big part in our increased closeness and intimacy, like I described at the beginning of this week.
My wife recently reflected on how she felt similar to when we first started ‘going out’ – how we lay in each others arms all day & night, not wanting to sleep, eat or go to university. (Lovesick)
There is much more I’d like to share, especially after this week’s therapy session, but I try to keep my posts under 500 words 🙂 and it’s probably best to ‘process it’ more first.
As I was writing this, I just had an interesting final thought. With the background of a conflict-filled childhood divorce, it’s common that: Conflict breeds more conflict AND Intimacy breeds more intimacy. The mechanism… marital conflict triggers subconscious memories of childhood parental conflict, which leads to emotional defensive reflexes, weakening the “same team” mentality, which leads to more conflict… 😦 … something to explore next time.
Once again, I have my theme for tomorrow’s Funny Friday post: Divorce is NOT Funny, which happens to be closely related to a suggestion I received from Gary… “Family court and money hungry lawyers is not funny” – hoping it gets smoother for him and his daughter!