The Significance of Addressing Your Emotional Baggage
One’s parents’ divorce could potentially shape the future of their own marriages. This perspective was recently discussed in an article on The Huffington Post, and I’m eager to hear your viewpoints.
Shannon*, a middle-aged woman of 48 and a client of mine, recently shared her enlightening moment while discussing the reasons behind her impending divorce. She had married her husband under the assumption that he “completed” her, an action driven by her low self-esteem and an ingrained belief that she was unworthy of love.
After much therapy and introspection, Shannon realized she had inadvertently set a relationship trap: she was trying to fill the void of lost love created by her parents’ divorce and the severing of her relationship with her mother at a young age of just five.
Desperate for a Savior, Not a Relationship
Shannon had considered her husband a genuine catch, her knight in shining armor who showed interest in her every move. He guided her through life, handled financial matters, and left all parenting responsibilities to her.
Ironically, this “perfect” partner replicated the patterns and disillusionments Shannon had faced in her childhood. She found herself in an unhappy marriage, dealing with controlling behavior, emotional abuse, jealousy, and a spouse largely uninvolved in family matters. She believed this was tolerable, stemming from a fear of abandonment and a history of deflecting her stepmother’s anger rooted in her childhood.
When Shannon’s parents got divorced, her mother left seemingly without concern for her daughter. Shannon only discovered the truth many years later in adulthood when she reestablished a relationship with her mother. Her father remarried, but this new marriage did not offer her the emotional support and love she craved. These events from her childhood had significant implications on how she handles romantic relationships as an adult.
Even though many kids show resilience, growing up perceiving themselves as regular kids and not products of a divorce, some children are significantly affected in the long term. When a parent abandons a child, that child often internalizes a belief that there was something inherently wrong with them and carries this belief into adulthood.
The absence of a parent-child relationship can profoundly impact the child’s future romantic relationships, leading to unique challenges. This matter is subject to much debate among researchers. Some argue that these individuals are permanently affected, while others believe that, with effort and focus, individuals can come to terms with their past, heal, and build successful and fulfilling romantic partnerships.
According to Dr. Michelle Mitcham, a relationship therapist and divorce expert, an individual’s self-esteem suffers because they feel rejected. The loss of a parental relationship due to divorce often leads to a lack of trust.
“People possess varying beliefs or cognitions, and these generate specific behaviors. If your cognition is along the lines of ‘I’m a bad person,’ ‘I’m unworthy,’ or ‘I did something to deserve this,’ the lines become blurred. What messages are you subconsciously relaying to yourself?”
Dr. Mitcham helps her patients regain their self-esteem and trust, enabling them to foster a positive outlook and healthy romantic relationships. She guides them in coping with the loss of a parent or a fragmented parent-child relationship, and supports them in healing by focusing on these five crucial messages.
- Look to Your Family of Origin for Answers.
Resolving any unresolved issues that might be impacting your current relationship is crucial. For instance, many people enter relationships hoping to find the things they missed out on while growing up. If a relationship appears appealing, individuals might dive in, hoping to find love and nurturing without truly getting to know their partner. Take the time to understand your potential partners better.
- Break the Cycle of Repeating the Same Relationship Mistakes.
People often enter marriages or relationships for all the wrong reasons. They hope to feel complete because they haven’t dealt with their past. As a result, they find themselves in an unfulfilling relationship, unsure why they are committed to that relationship. Identify what you are seeking, and remember to love yourself — you are deserving of love, respect, and a healthy relationship.
- Being in a Good Relationship Doesn’t Require You to Compromise Yourself.
Envision your ideal relationship: Consider what you need in a compatible partner. You are on the right path towards a healthy relationship when you don’t have to compromise your true self. Achieve self-sufficiency and emotional completeness before you seek happiness in a relationship. Your partner should not serve as the answer to your unresolved issues.
*Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality.
As we navigate the unique challenges of middle age, many women and men alike find themselves in an unhappy marriage, contributing to the rising divorce rate. It’s important to remember that seeking help from a relationship therapist and spending time on self-reflection can be beneficial steps towards healing.
From a young age, we are taught to value the concept of being part of married couples, but decision making in life often leads us down different paths. Whether you find yourself as a single person after a long term relationship or have always been self-sufficient, remember that every journey is valid.
The world’s oldest woman once said that her secret to longevity was avoiding a bad marriage. While this might not be the key for everyone, it does highlight the importance of happiness in life. Whether you’re in a marriage, contemplating divorce, or enjoying the single life, the company of good friends and a sense of fulfillment in your age can make all the difference.
Divorce presents unique challenges, but it can also be a chance to get divorced from old patterns, to rediscover oneself, and to find happiness anew. Whether you’re on your first date after a divorce or building new relationships, remember that your family, your individual priorities, and your future are what truly matter.
Flying solo can be daunting, but it can also be liberating. Whether you’re a partner, a spouse, or a single person, remember that your worth is not defined by your relationship status. You are more than capable of deciding your own path.
In the end, whether we’re talking about women, men, marriages, or the many things in life that bring us joy, it all comes down to one thing: hope. The reality is, life is a journey filled with many ups and downs, but with support, focus, and a bit of effort, we can create a life that brings us happiness.
Remember, whether you’re a wife, a mom, or a single woman taking care of herself, you are not alone. There are resources available to help you navigate the complexities of divorce, and there is a world of people who understand what you’re going through.
In conclusion, whether you’re interested in dating again or simply exploring your own interests, remember that it’s okay to put yourself first. You have the freedom to create your own happiness, and that’s something worth celebrating.
At The Smart Divorce:
We understand that you may have arrived at this page because you’re facing a challenging time in your life. Divorce, especially in your 40s, can feel like a daunting mountain to climb. But remember, you are not alone on this journey. We recognize the emotional baggage you may be carrying, the fears you might be wrestling with, and the uncertainty that may be clouding your future.
Our team of professionals at The Smart Divorce is here to help you navigate this difficult period. We believe in the power of self-discovery and healing, and we’re committed to helping you break free from old patterns that no longer serve you. We want to empower you to rediscover yourself, to build healthier relationships, and to find happiness anew.
We encourage you to reach out to us. Let’s start a conversation about your unique situation and explore how we can support you. Remember, it’s okay to seek help. It’s okay to prioritize your well-being. You deserve love, respect, and a fulfilling life.
Take the first step towards your new beginning. Schedule a Get Acquainted Call with us today. Let’s embark on this journey together, towards a smarter, healthier, and happier future.
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