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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Divorce Support Groups

Term Definition Divorce Support Groups - groups that help people with the pain and suffering of divorce.
Application in Divorce A divorce, even under the best of conditions, can be one of the most difficult experiences anyone ever endures. In most cases, shock, denial and isolation, anger, guilt and depression move like alternating current through the divorcing spouses, sometimes surprising and frightening them with its intensity and frequency and duration. In most cases, regardless of how the marriage unravels, regardless of who wants out and who does not, of who leaves and who is left, the sense of loss and grief hurts like the bloody stump of an amputated limb, and for a time, it seems it will never stop. After the divorce, the deep, dark well called failure feeds from many springs and depression is very common.

And this ignores the children of the marriage who so often are visible reminders and living proof of the high hopes the couple once had for a marriage that would last forever. Even though the parents are no longer spouses, they remain parents forever; and each must deal with the other in facing the responsibilities of parenthood.

There is not such animal as a painless divorce. In fact, for most people, even the spouse who initiates the divorce, the breakup of a marriage is very often filled with unexpected sadness and sorrow. Psychologists put the stress and suffering of a divorce up there with the death of a spouse (and some say it is even worse).

Moreover, divorce, even the end of a very bad marriage that must end, rarely makes a person happy. Whatever happiness ensues after the end of a marriage is apart from the divorce. In other words, a bad marriage with one of two unhappy spouses, plus a necessary divorce does not equal two people, now unencumbered of the experience and free to be happy. It does not work that way.

In addition, divorce touches more than the spouses and even their children. Like a hand grenade, the blast of a divorce radiates outward. Family, friends, relationships, identity, routines -- all are fractured and smashed when the storm surge of a divorce breaks a marriage. Expectations of future, finances, self-esteem, order and permanence -- all become so much debris washing on the shores where for a time the formerly married lives like Robinson Crusoe.

The dislocations associated with divorce are so profound that many people feel they are going crazy and, quite wisely, turn to divorce support groups. In her book The Divorce Recovery Sourcebook, Dawn Bradley Berry say that in 1991 fifteen million Americans meet in self-help support groups every day.

"People who have been through a particularly challenging phase of life can offer a special brand of empathy," writes Berry. These support groups take a variety of shapes and forms. Some deal with emotional issues; others with the complexities of solo parenting, self-esteem, anger, letting go.

A divorce is often a hard march across barren terrain, where a divorce support group is an oasis on a long and difficult journey.

Resources: Local Newspapers, Telephone Listings, and Internet.

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