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Collateral Damage

I talk about blind spots in relationships because I feel so many relationships can be salvaged.

It is so easy to look at the other person and see their mistakes but is very difficult to truly own our culpability.

Have you ever thought of the price we pay for relationships that don't work or work minimally?

With broken family relationships, when parents divorce, the collateral damage ripples throughout the family and friends.

One of the things that I see that is most disturbing is the children’s worries and fears.

A few of the things I hear are, “Where will we live; will there be enough money; I don't want to be without the other parent; this is very embarrassing; why don't you guys try to work this out?”

Many tears are shed that are obvious and seen by many others yet so many tears are shed alone. Some talk about the divorce as if it is their fault. I hear stories like: “If I hadn't caused trouble, if I would have kept my room clean, if I would have made my grades, maybe they wouldn't be getting a divorce.”

Oh, what a tragedy.

Extended family members who love both parties feel split loyalties. Their pain is not as great but is certainly not easy to ignore. Then there are the friends who enjoyed the company of both, the visits, the travel, the laughter, and the meals that will no longer be shared.

The holidays and other celebrations can be split which causes a loss of family connection and difficulty for family members, especially the children, to find their new place in the new relationships.

Now looking at the financial side of a broken relationship, the attorneys will get their fair share. Separating finances is generally a very difficult situation for both parties. Fear and greed can overcome the logic of the law and what is best for the children. Establishing new budgets, and new ways of spending, at least early on, is difficult. Not having the same available resources can be difficult, awkward, and unsettling.

Ill feelings usually go hand in hand with the division of financial property. This keeps the door open for more arguments. Custody battles can last until the children are adults. Not taking the children’s points of view and not considering the children's needs can cause them collateral damage for days or years on end.

Leaving the adult children, the responsibility for caring for the other parent during illness or difficulties in old age is also overlooked.

Something that is not considered is what I call “emotional divorce.” That can be more difficult than a legal divorce. The “emotional divorce” continues if the couple blames and complains causing suffering that doesn’t end and it is important to not allow the ex’s emotions to steer your life.

Being able to disengage quickly is the key.

Emotional maturation is essential here. It is being able to recognize and manage your own emotions and recognize the emotional state of the other then acting in a way that calms not escalates the situation.

These are only a few of the difficulties with “emotional divorce.”

And there are so many hidden issues that spring up along the way that perhaps you can see my logic in working on keeping the relationships together.

I don’t get a vote on whether relationships dissolve or remain together.

Neither do I know if some couples should stay attached. I certainly have seen relationships that are not good for either party or for the children.

I've witnessed numerous relationships that sought assistance for issues that seemed irreconcilable, resolve their differences, and find harmony.

Watch for the blind spots.

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Blind Spots in Relationships

What I don't know I don't know about myself

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