The sister also estimates that it took her father a bit longer – around 10 years – to get over the divorce and mused that it was, “probably because he was bitter about it.”
While co-parenting is to be encouraged in cases of amicable divorce, in much greater proportion are the marriages that end due to harm, abuse, or neglect. In these cases, it’s best for the custodial parent to go no-contact with the abusive parent as much as possible.
Make sure that all communication and court ordered exchanges of the children go through email, the courts, and/or third parties.
Maintaining connections after divorce
It’s normal for family and friend relations to shift and change as a couple divorces.
As a result of her parent’s divorce, one sister shared that she ended up being closer to her mother than her father. “I did not have a close relationship with my dad because I stayed at his house less and he didn’t seem to know how to deal with teenage girls on his own.” However, she added, “It made me very close with my siblings since we went through it together.”
Another sister shared that all of their mutual friends stayed loyal to her when they divorced. “After my divorce all of his friends become my friends. The divorce affected him.”
In many cases, individuals shared that they spent a good amount of time alone after their divorces. This was as a result of many converging reasons including; not being allowed to have friends (in the case of abusive and controlling marriages), lack of time to maintain relationships as they started work, school, and/or managed as a single parent, relocation after divorce, and even community ostracization.
One woman shares, “I didn’t have any friends to be honest. My ex didn’t allow it, didn’t let me talk to anyone and I had lost all contact with past friends. So after divorce, I slowly found the ability to start talking to people and making friends with other mums at school, and so on.”
Rebuilding healthier relationships as a family
Healing from divorce is generally no different from healing from any other unhealthy relationship or trauma. Counseling can help address individual issues that are holding divorcees back from becoming their most whole and complete self.
As Life Strategist and Leadership Coach, Henrietta Szovati adds that there are two common types of challenges that individuals face in their marriage and life in general. The first is a difficult childhood (which can include damage from emotional, physical, or sexual abuse). The second is inadequate parenting which didn’t empower the individuals to learn healthy husband and wife roles.
It’s important to seek counseling, therapy, and self-introspection to heal these old wounds in addition to the trauma from a divorce.
Taken in this way, divorce can be seen as a learning experience for both parents and children.
One sister recalls that her parents’ divorce taught her, “What you should and should not tolerate in a relationship – for example, not tolerating certain forms of abuse.”
Divorce has the potential to both hurt us and help us change our conditions. It can absolutely be a necessary step to progress as a Muslim.
Not all couples are meant to stay together forever.
Sometimes we need to get in, learn what we are meant to learn, and then get out again. Allah is ultimately the best of planners – bringing people into our lives and removing them for His reasons.
If marriage and divorce can be seen from this perspective – as a challenge and opportunity for growth and learning – both parents and children can make the most of a very difficult situation.
First published: March 2018
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