Divorce produces a wide range of emotions. Although some people experience relief and a newfound feeling of freedom, anger, grief and guilt are more common reactions to a failed marriage. A divorce can also leave you without your old support group. Old friends who built their relationship with you and your spouse may feel uncomfortable dealing with you as an individual or take sides with your spouse and blame you for the break-up.
Dealing with the emotional trauma of divorce by yourself can be overwhelming. Divorce recovery support groups offer a chance to meet people who share your experiences.
Advantages of a Support Group
While some people can deal with emotional trauma alone, most people heal faster with support. Members of a divorce recovery support group share your experience. They understand your pain and the conflicted feelings arising from divorce. After months of working with divorce lawyers, it’s comforting to met people who can relate.
Support groups allow you to express your feelings, including anger and pain, in a safe environment. Group members can offer suggestions to help you move on after divorce. As your involvement in the group grows, you may find yourself offering advice to other members, which can be an empowering experience.
Choosing a Support Group
Some divorce support groups are small, informal meetings run by volunteers or group members. Such groups may be free and often have open attendance policies. Others are therapy groups moderated by a professional therapist. Therapy groups usually charge fees and have mandatory attendance requirements.
If you’re looking for an informal, “drop-in” environment where you can chat and connect with other divorcees, community recovery groups may be right for you. Therapy groups have the advantage of a trained professional leading the group, guiding discussion and actively developing the skills and emotional state needed for recovery.
Look for a group that meets your needs. Some groups have a religious foundation, while others model themselves on 12-step programs. Some groups are for men or women only, while others include both sexes. All have their strengths and weaknesses.
Sometimes support group meetings leave people feeling drained and upset. This is a natural part of the healing process. If you discover you end meetings with negative feelings on a regular basis, however, consider looking for a group with a more uplifting atmosphere.
Children and Divorce
Children, especially young children, often blame themselves for their parent’s divorce. They too feel guilt, anger and anxiety. In cases where one parent gains sole custody, children may blame him or her for denying them access to the other parent or feel anger towards parents who no longer live with them.
Children’s divorce recovery support groups help children express these emotions. A good children’s support group teaches appropriate outlets for emotions and offers coping skills for dealing with divorce.
Same Sex Divorce Support
Same sex divorce in New York and other locations is a natural result of increased same sex marriage. As with straight relationships, a certain percent of same sex marriages will fail. Gays dealing with divorce may be uncomfortable sharing their experiences in “straight” support groups.
Same-sex divorce recovery groups aren’t common, but they are becoming easier to find, especially in large urban centers. Contact local gay and lesbian community services to ask about support groups in your area.
People in isolated rural areas or small towns may not have access to local support groups. In such cases, online divorce recovery groups are available. If you opt for an online support group, research the group’s reputation and choose one with a moderator who prevents trolling or offensive comments.