Considering Separation or Divorce?
- Many couples attend marriage counselling to try and repair their marriage before turning to divorce.
- A marriage counsellor can also help you to decide whether or not divorce is the answer to your problems, or, once you have decided on divorce, make the process of divorce more amicable.
- A marriage counsellor can help you work through both the emotional and practical effects of your decision to divorce.
Prolonged fighting, unresolved conflict, ethical or cultural differences, infidelity or lost love: there are many reasons why married couples think about ending a marriage in divorce. However, divorce is almost always a drastic step of last resort for an unhappy couple, and one which has a long-lasting impact on your children (if you have any), your extended family, your financial and residential circumstances, and often your faith in relationships. For example, research indicates that by the time they reach young adulthood, children from divorced families frequently report more subclinical emotional distress than their peers from married families (1). Additionally, divorced Australians are much more likely to experience material hardships and to report having a lower level of prosperity than the married and never-divorced (2).
Due to the significant impact of divorce, many couples turn to marriage counselling before making the final decision whether to stay together or call it quits. Marriage counselling can help repair a marriage by improving communication, reducing arguments, restoring intimacy, increasing trust, resolving impasses and reminding a couple what they love about each other and why they decided to get married in the first place. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Relationship & Counsellors Sydney)
Marriage counselling can be an excellent way in which to mediate discussions so that you can talk about those difficult and sensitive issues that are causing difficulty in your marriage and might be leading you to think about divorce.
A marriage counsellor or psychologist can also help you assess whether divorce is the appropriate response to your marital problems, and ultimately help you decide whether to stay married or get a divorce. Aside from the emotional reasons why you might want a divorce, divorce also comes with a lot of practical side effects which also need to be given proper consideration. These include:
- How will divorce affect your financial situation?
- Where will I live? Will we sell the family home?
- How will our divorce affect our children?
- Who will the children live with?
- How will our divorce affect our extended family and friendship groups?
If you have been married less than two years and want to apply for a divorce, you must either:
- attend counselling with a family counsellor or nominated counsellor to discuss the possibility of reconciliation with your spouse, – we do not provide this service, or
- if you have not attended counselling, seek the permission of the Family Court of Australia to apply for a divorce.
Please note that our service does not provide separation counselling as required by the Family Court of Australia.
A marriage counsellor or psychologist can help you and your spouse work through these issues calmly and intelligently, by acting as a kind of mediator in the discussions and by encouraging active listening and patience. In this way, a marriage counsellor can be an invaluable resource in ensuring that your divorce is as amicable as possible if divorce is the decision you end up making.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics records that approximately 40% of Australian marriages end in divorce. Clearly, this is a pertinent issue in Australian society and one which affects many marital relationships.
If you are considering divorce and you want help with your decision, or you wish to make one last effort to save your marriage, talking to a qualified marriage or relationship counsellor can help. Even if your spouse is not interested in attending, you can still see a counsellor or psychologist on your own to help you resolve your own feelings, and come to terms with your or your partner’s decision. Many people also benefit from attending counselling after a divorce to better understand what went wrong and how they contributed to the problem, so that they can avoid similar outcomes in future relationships. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Relationship & Marriage Counsellors Sydney)
If you wish to make an appointment with a qualified marriage counsellor or psychologist, or for more information, please contact Associated Relationship & Marriage Counsellors Sydney.
Divorce Research Citations
Amato, P. R. (1993). Children’s adjustment to divorce: Theories, hypotheses, and empirical support. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 55, 23-38.
Amato, P. R. (1999). Children of divorce parents as young adults. In E. M. Hetherington (Ed.), Coping with divorce, single parenting, and remarriage (pp. 147-164). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Amato, P. R. (2001). Children and divorce in the 1990s: An update of the Amato and Keith (1991) meta-analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 15, 355-370.
Amato, P.R. (1994). Life-span adjustment of children to their parents’ divorce. The Future of Children, 4, 143-164. Available from: http://www.futureofchildren.org/information2826/information_show.htm?doc_id=75582
Amato, P. R.., & Gilbreth, J. (1999). Nonresident fathers and children’s well-being: A meta-analysis. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61, 557-573.
Amato, P. R., & Keith, B. (1991). Parental divorce and the well-being of children: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 110, 26-46.
Crowder, K., & Teachman, J. (2004). Do residential conditions explain the relationship between living arrangements and adolescent behavior? Journal of Marriage and Family, 66, 721-738.
Dunn, J., Davies, L. C., O’Connor, T. G., & Sturgess, W. (2001). Family lives and friendships: The perspectives of children in step-, single-parent, and nonstep families. Journal of Family Psychology, 15, 272-287.
Hetherington, E. M. (1993). An overview of the Virginia Longitudinal Study of Divorce and Remarriage with a focus on the early adolescent. Journal of Family Psychology, 7, 39-56.
Hetherington, E. M., & Kelly, J. (2002). For better or worse. New York: Norton.
Kelly, J. B., & Emery, R. E. (2003). Children’s adjustment following divorce: Risk and resiliency perspectives. Family Relations, 52, 352-362.
Laumann-Billings, L., & Emery, R. E. (2000). Distress among young adults in divorced families. Journal of Family Psychology, 14, 671-687.
Shanholtz, Caroline & Brown, Sacha & Davidson, Ryan & Beck, Connie. (2018). Distress in Emerging Adults: Further Evaluation of the Painful Feelings About Divorce Scale. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 60(2), 1-11.
de Vaus, Greay, Qu & Stanton (2003). The consequences of divorce for financial living standards in later life. Australian Institute of Family Studies 2007.