Divorce: how to decide whether to stay or go

October 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Expert advice for a marriage in crisis. Licensed therapist Susan Pease Gadoua, founder and executive director of the "Transition Institute of Marin" and author of "Contemplating Divorce," has some helpful advice for couples dealing with divorce.

You discuss in your book the five needs that happy marriages satisfy. What are those needs?

I make an analogy that a marriage is a living entity just as a person is and it needs to be fed, watered and nurtured in order to survive and thrive.

Abraham Maslow developed what he calls the Hierarchy of Needs in which he outlines the needs we all have as humans: survival needs, safety needs, love needs, esteem needs and self-actualization needs. Maslow states that you cannot move to getting safety needs met until your survival needs are met and you can't have love needs met if you don't feel safe, etc. I apply that concept to how well a marriage functions. If your marriage doesn't have a sense of safety, you are less concerned about whether love is present, for example.

What are some signs of a marriage in crisis?

Signs that a marriage are in crisis include when there is no communication between spouses, when there is no effort on the part of one or perhaps even both spouses to repair the problem in the relationship, when there is abuse and/or when there is an affair. Often, couples wait far too long to get some type of help and, more times than not, when they finally do reach out for professional support, it is too late - too much damage has been done by one or both spouses.

I'd like to mention that I have had a few couples on the brink of divorce read my book and decide to stay together and work on their issues/problems. I say that because I think the book does offer a great deal of hope that the marriage can work. I also believe that those who come to terms with the fact that their marriage may be over will also find hope as well as ways to cope with the tremendous challenge of such a major life-changing event.

What are the first steps to take to save a marriage in crisis?

When someone is serious about saving the marriage she acts differently from someone who doesn't really want to stay married. For example, someone who is committed to saving the marriage will get into couples or individual therapy to work on herself, she will end an affair, return to the bedroom, be more honest about what she needs, spend more time with her spouse.

Contemplating Divorce Workshop
Saturday, October 11 from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm in San Rafael. The fee is $125 and includes a copy of the book.

Women's Divorce Workshop
Wednesday evenings on October 15 and October 22 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm in Corte Madera. It covers the legal, financial and emotional aspects of divorce.

For more information on the Transition Institute of Marin and workshops, visit www.transitioninstituteofmarin.com.

Buy the book on Amazon: Contemplating Divorce

About the book:
Just as there are right and wrong reasons to marry, there are good and bad reasons to divorce. Some couples are quick to split because they are unwilling to devote the necessary effort to fixing their relationships or to understanding their partners, while others miss out on personal fulfillment by staying too long in unhealthy marriages.

The idea for the book was born as a result of witnessing hundreds of people experience tremendous turmoil in considering whether or not their marriage was salvageable. Through her work in the marital dissolution arena, Susan was able to identify certain patterns and similarities that most divorcing people experienced. An example of this is what Susan calls the, "Marital Indecision Cycle," which describes the merry-go-round effects that most husbands and wives experience as they consider ending their marriage.

Because people tend to become more isolated when their marriage is in trouble, they don't realize that much of what they experience is normal. They often question and judge themselves harshly during this time and this only makes the process harder. This book offers people freedom from the bondage of self-judgment and helps them find their truth.

For more information, visit www.contemplatingdivorce.com

About Susan Pease Gadoua:
Susan Pease Gadoua is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience as a therapist. She has specialized in divorce-related issues for close to a decade and has counseled hundreds of people who were at some stage of the divorce continuum (pre, mid or post). She is the founder and executive director of the Transition Institute of Marin, an agency that provides coaching, therpay, and workshops to people who are at some stage of marital dissolution. While her private practice is based in Northern California, she has coached and counseled people from all over the U.S. and Canada. In addition to being a licensed therapist, Susan is a Collaborative Divorce Coach and a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. She is also a Certified Drug and Alcohol Abuse Counselor, and was trained as a Life Coach.


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