By J. Bailey Molineux, Ph.D.
Whether we like it or not, divorce is a fact of our modern
life. Millions of Americans experience the pain of divorce each year. But it
may be possible for many of them to emerge from the pain as happier, stronger
Or so Mel Krantzler thinks. And he should know since he
was divorced in 1970 and is now happy and successful counseling divorced people.
He has written a book about his experiences and those of his clients entitled
Creative Divorce (Signet, 1973).
According to Krantzler, creative divorce is a process in
which an individual learns to give up his (or her) old life in order to find
greater satisfaction and meaning in a new life. It should not be a punishment
for wrongdoing or failure.
There are three stages in the creative divorce process.
The first involves the recognition that a relationship has died, that the
marriage no longer meets the needs of its partners. This is not always easy
to do. No matter how painful or intolerable it may have been, a marital union
provided a certain amount of security and certainty, even if only by regularity
of bitter fights. Recently divorced persons may find themselves longing for
the old relationship, and tend to forget or deny its capacity to give pain.
This is what Krantzler calls the "pull of the past." People who divorce
do so in the hope that they will be happier. Sadly in their initial confusion
and loneliness, they may find themselves to be even less happy.
A process of mourning occupies the second stage. Like the
death of a loved one, the death of a relationship involves a painful loss, and
must be mourned if the divorced person is ever to let go of the past and build
a new life for himself. And the mourning involved in a divorce may set off the
same emotional reactions that usually accompany mourning for the deceased -
grief; anger for having been abandoned; guilt for things said or done, or not
said or done; and a temporary emotional withdrawal.
The third stage involves the gradual, painful adjustment
to single life. In a creative divorce, the person eventually comes to the realization
that he can live a contented, independent life without his ex-spouse. The
"pull of the past" is over and the present is here to be lived to
the fullest. He learns that he is not half a person because single, and that
he need not be involved in another relationship in order to be whole.
In short, the greatest benefits of a creative divorce -
especially if the marriage has been psychologically damaging - is that the divorced
person comes to view himself in more positive terms and to gain a greater sense
of confidence and inner emotional security.
Two common mistakes that divorced people make is either
to rush quickly into another marriage for fear of being alone, or to shun marriage
altogether for fear of being hurt again. In a creative divorce, the individual
first establishes himself as an independent, self-loving and self-sustaining
person. Secure in the knowledge that he can make it on his own, he will then
be in a better position to carefully and unhurriedly seek after another relationship
in which he can find genuine love and acceptance. And the fact that three of
four divorced persons eventually remarry indicates that this is probably what
most people want.
About the Author: J. Bailey Molineux, a psychologist with
Adult and Child Counseling, has incorporated many of his articles in a book,
Loving Isn't Easy, Isbn 1587410419, sold through bookstores everywhere or available
directly from Selfhelpbooks.com. Copyright 2002, J. Bailey Molineux and Selfhelpbooks.com,
all rights reserved. This article may be reprinted but must include authors
copyright and website hyperlinks.