By Jerald Young, Ph.D.
This article answers the question, “What do I do if I can’t make this recovery from divorce alone?”
Who do you select to help you through the divorce recovery process? Find out why the typical first choices will not be helpful. Find out who can actually help walk you through your recovery.
Recovery from divorce requires us to confront the emotional reality of lost hopes and dashed dreams. We also have to confront our fears of an unknown future. When we are immersed in this emotional process, often we can’t see our options or understand the reality of the situation as clearly as when the pressure is off. We need someone whom we trust to help us handle this life transition effectively.
The Value of a Good “Change Buddy”
When effective, this person can significantly reduce the pressures and stress of change facing us. They can help you sort out the reality of the situation from our perceptions that are notoriously “squirrelly” during this time in our life. This person can clarify the “right-headedness” of our decisions and “right-size” the effects of our emotional reactions. I call such a person a “change buddy.” However, not just anybody will do.
Two Necessary Qualifications for Your “Change Buddy”
Change Buddy’s should have two critical qualifications.
(1) First, they should have NO PERSONAL AGENDA. Their only concern is your happiness and success – regardless of what the ultimate form or final arrangement may be. In addition,
(2) they should be able to tell you the TRUTH, even when it is not what you want to hear. That means you have to trust this person enough to give them permission to be honest with you, without endangering your relationship and friendship.
Ironically, this usually rules out spouses, family members, and bosses. Those people almost always have a preferred solution they would like us to accept.
An Example of The Pitfalls of Choosing a Change Buddy
A young acquaintance of mine had been married for four years. She realized the marriage was not going to work. They had no children and she knew divorce was the right thing to do. She needed someone to assist her through her transition. She chose her mother. Bad choice.
Her mother, having been through the pain of two divorces, had her own personal agenda for her daughter, which was to “protect her daughter from that pain and financial loss at all costs.” She pressured her daughter non-stop to reconcile with her financially stable ex, even though that was the last thing her daughter needed or wanted. After a few heart-rending weeks, the daughter “fired” her mother from the change buddy role, recruited an old college friend, and made a very successful recovery from divorce.
Having someone we trust to have only our own happiness at heart will make things much easier and saner while we march down the path of our personal recovery from divorce.