Q My parents have told us that they’re going to get a divorce – they’re in their 50s! Me, my brother and sister are all in our mid to late 20s and have kids of our own and so this will upset a lot of people.
Mum and dad have always argued, bickered and even fought, and to be honest it would have been better in many ways of they’d spilt up earlier and we wouldn’t have had to witness it all as kids.
I can’t see the point of them divorcing now. All their kids are off their hands so they should be looking forward to a calmer happier retirement.
A I doubt they see themselves as on the cusp of retirement just yet 🙂
When we’re in our 20s then people in their 50s seem old. When we’re in our 50s then it’s people in their 70s who seem old.
The point is, assuming they’re both agreeable to this divorce, then they see themselves as young enough to start again if they want to, and to find a new partner. One of them may have already found someone else.
Perhaps they got together when they were too young and inexperienced – and they later found out that they weren’t particularly compatible, but their children kept them together.
Some things in a relationship can be worked on and improved, others can’t. If the love and respect is missing (or trust, kindness or deeper connection) then it can sometimes feel easier and preferable to start again elsewhere.
We all deserve happiness and to reach our mature years without domestic conflict and struggle. Life brings us many challenges quite aside from those we create for ourselves at home.
I hear that you think they’re making a mistake – and I have no doubt that they’ve thought the same about you and your siblings from time to time too. But you have to let them get on with their choice and decision.
Please try to see it from their point of view and give them the support they’ll need to keep the family bonds in tact with their children and grandchildren.
This will be a time of transition for you all – particularly if either of your parents has a new partner.
They are still your parents and you still have your own individual relationship with them.
It might be helpful for you to talk through what it was like for you growing up with all that conflict and the effect it’s had upon you and your own relationships since. Not as a way of blaming or shaming them but more as a way of sharing your inner child’s feelings about the effects of their relationship upon you.
It may be that your inner child feels angry that they’re ending their conflicted relationship now, and didn’t do so earlier before it had an impact upon you, and your siblings.
If they were too busy fighting they may have unintentionally neglected your emotional needs. It’s harder to identify what we didn’t get and what was missing in childhood, and easier to say what was wrong about what we did get.
Emotional neglect or abuse (whether intended or not) cast their own shadow upon the developing psyche, as do the more obvious forms of abuse and neglect.
Think about what was missing for you as you were growing up, and what you now realise you could have done with back then – and share this with your parents (together or alone).
This will help you to heal any leftover emotional wounds from your past as well as let them know how their fighting, arguing and bickering affected you.
Then you can all move on to the next phase of your relationship with a clean slate and a vow not to repeat history.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)
www.maxineharley.com Where you will find FREE e-booklets and resources designed to help and inform you on your journey of self-knowledge and development