It is sometimes said that divorces take too long to conclude. That opinion has been fuelled by a succession of high-profile splits involving many court hearings across a number of years before settlement is achieved.
Of course, there are occasions when it is impractical for couples whose marriages are effectively at an end to bring them legally to a close. For example, the last recession meant that a considerable number of spouses remained in the marital home, living more or less separate lives under the same roof.
At that time, job insecurity, depressed house values and a shortage of cash meant that they felt unable to go their own way. There are, though, circumstances when formally dissolving a relationship over a relatively long period of time can actually be a good thing. Take the actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin as an example.
A year ago, they famously announced that they were “consciously uncoupling” because their 11-year marriage had run out of steam. In the months since, they have regularly seen each other, spent time with their two children together and are reported to have been dating other people too. This week, it was revealed that they have now divorced.
I don’t think that I’m alone in thinking that although the amicable process might have prompted a lot of questions amongst entertainment media, it probably answered quite a few questions of the couple’s own about the nature of their relationship and their prospects.
Many husbands and wives find the realisation – whether sudden or gradual - that their marriage is failing to be difficult to take, generating very real and very raw emotions. Occasionally, those feelings lead to combustible situations which can be extremely hurtful for the adults involved and their families too.
Removing oneself from the potential for conflict provides the time to think more calmly about the future – something which is especially important if the marriage has been a long one – rather than the stressful ‘here and now’.
It might seem like a mere platitude but time can really be a healer in such a scenario. While distance and reflection might not reverse the decline of a partnership, it makes it possible to handle the necessary administration without anywhere near as much rancour. For those living with the fall-out of divorce, reasoned discussion is always better than dispute.
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