Your Relationship During The Divorce
Your Relationship During The Divorce
Stan Katz (Clinical and forensic psychologist) gives expert video advice on: Is it okay to live together while we're divorcing?; Is it okay to continue having sex after we've agreed to divorce? and more...
What is a "transitional relationship"?
Transitional relationships are often people who you got involved with before the end of your marriage. Often it could be someone you are having an affair with who you have used to help you separate and give you strength to actually confront your marriage and to leave. Often people need somebody out there to go to. They don't want to be alone or they want a shoulder to cry on - someone to be there for them to support them. Thus, a transitional relationship is often the only way that people can actually leave a bad marriage, because they don't feel strong enough independently. For some people their transitional partners actually end up being their subsequent marital partners, and for some people it can work. But, for many people, that transitional person is there to help them get out of their marriage more than to satisfy their basic needs.
Are transitional relationships helpful after my divorce?
Transitional relationships are often helpful temporarily, making a person feel better who feels badly about themselves. They are often very seductive because someone's rejected you and now someone is pursuing you. In the long run, they really don't solve any problems; they are just there as a transition. You still have to work on yourself, even though you may be feeling better because someone is giving you what you haven't gotten in a long time.
Is it okay to live together while we're divorcing?
Once you've made a decision to end your marriage, it's very difficult for many people to cohabitate. It brings up too much pain, too much suffering, particularly when there's children involved. For people who remain in the house together, children often see fighting, and yelling, and crying -- and they don't know what to make of it. If there are no children involved, and people can do it in a civil way -- without feeling that they're being observed, watched, scrutinized, intimidated -- it may work out fine. But, for most people the pain is so intense, that they really need a physical separation.
Is it okay to continue having sex after we've agreed to divorce?
It's not unusual to actually find your partner more attractive once you've separated from them. Time seems to heal some wounds, absence does make the heart grow fonder and so what happens is you may find yourself becoming more sexually attracted to that person and you may even have some separation sex. Usually people feel lousy afterwards and it doesn't solve any problem and they decide not to do it ever again. But for some people they actually have to go through it to decide not to do it. It's nothing I recommend, but I think it's something developmentally that happens in the circumstances and it never solves the problem. In fact what it brings up is that there's some attraction left but the attraction may be something to be worked on, or something that can't be worked on because there's no emotional, intellectual attraction but just a physical attraction.
What do I do if the spouse I'm divorcing is hostile?
I always tell my clients that no matter how hostile the other person is acting during a divorce, you have to be true to yourself. You can still be the best divorcing spouse you can be, the best parent you can be, regardless of the jerk the other person is being. In fact, often if you disengage, you will find that the divorce conflict will go down just by function of disengagement. Even though they are still really angry, they will have no one to fight with. You don't have to be involved. Disengagement is really important if your spouse is thriving on the hostility and anger.