Divorce Counselling [Part 1] – Looking out & Looking in
When 37-year-old Priya (not her real name) married her Singaporean husband and settled here as a Permanent Resident, she hardly expected having to consider a divorce. Cultural differences, financial conflicts and other tensions in marriage had escalated into domestic abuse by her husband on her and their two daughters. For the safety of her and her children, Priya eventually considered divorce.
Most couples consider divorce the last resort to end a marriage that has turned into a painful and difficult situation. But divorce is a life-changing event that can lead to high levels of stress. For Priya, the prospect of divorce placed her in a state of constant anxiety and worry over multiple issues. This included the fear of losing her Permanent Residency status sponsored by her husband, collecting sufficient evidence to file a Personal Protection Order against him, besides practical worries about finding stable employment to remain financially independent after divorce.
With such overwhelming demands confronting her all at once, Priya was left with little mental and emotional strength to carefully consider the impact of divorce on her children and to pay close attention to their well-being. Both Priya and her husband found themselves using various tactics to entice their daughters to love one parent more than the other.
With the help of a trained counsellor, Priya was able to make safety plans to protect herself and her children from abuse. Over time, Priya became aware of the need to consider her children’s interests above adult conflicts. She realised that using her children to pass messages to her husband, and pressuring them to choose her over her husband was causing them great distress. As a result, she learned to put her differences with her husband aside to focus on their children’s welfare.
During the immediate lead-up and aftermath of divorce, extreme stress and a mental state of being in “survival mode” can cause us to be closed off to alternative solutions or considerations. Counselling can provide that platform for individuals to process and explore possible alternatives on a host of issues relating to finances, lifestyle habits, co-parenting methods and parent-child relationship issues. Sound and thorough planning from the start of divorce can have a long-term impact on your quality of life as well as the well-being of their children.
Divorce counselling helps clients to look outwards, to consider his or her external circumstances and evaluate the consequences of different choices and actions.
In the next article, we revisit Priya’s journey and consider the role of counselling in helping her look inwards as she copes with her divorce.