Separation and Divorce are rarely what Moms or Dads expect.
Some separations are functional, but dysfunction can ensue, particularly if you make this one fundamental mistake. You fail to communicate.
If people don’t communicate well when they’re married, it’s unlikely that they will when they are apart. But the good news is that communication is a skill that can be taught and learned, but it is hard work.
Most people learn to communicate as children, from their parents. Some people recognize that their communication skills need considerable improvement and work at it.
Most people don’t.
A divorce case study
Every week, we are going to feature a different family, and through their experiences, we will take you through the journey of separation, divorce, mental health and medical health.
This week, we feature the Smiths, who made an all too common and fundamental mistake.
Bill and Linda met in high school, dated in university and were married at 23. Growing up, both of Linda’s parents worked, came home late, and never helped her with homework. Dad would drink his beer while Mom spent her time on the phone, talking to all her friends.
Linda often overheard her mom talk about how angry she was with her husband. But Linda never told a soul.
Conversely, Bill came from a warm and loving home. Linda loved Bill’s parents but anger about her own Mom and Dad consumed her.
She would show her parents.
Skipping ahead 12 years, Bill and Linda separated, with 2 children. Bill works full time and Linda works part-time. Both are quite angry and never fail to let their children know their feelings about each other.
They yell at the children quite a bit, and their friends avoid them.
Many years ago, Bill and Linda simply stopped communicating with each other. Bill knew how to share his feelings, but didn’t. Linda kept her hurt feelings inside because she didn’t know how to let them out.
Now they live on their own, share the children and with the help of a skilled social worker, they are starting to understand how to communicate. Linda is also seeing a therapist to help heal the wounds from her childhood which she repeated in her marriage.
It’s never too late to learn or improve your communication skills, whether you’re separated, divorced or want to preserve your marriage. There are local parenting courses, family courses, programs for parents / children and separation courses. Here are some great resources:
Family Service Toronto www.familyservicetoronto.org
Jewish Family and Child Services www.jfandcs.com
Ontario Society of Psychotherapists www.psychotherapyontario.org
Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers www.ocswssw.org
Parent Education Network www.parenteducationnetwork.ca
Yorktown Family Services www.yorktownfamilyservices.com
Make sure to check back soon to learn more from families like the Smiths!