The high-profile divorce announced yesterday of Rupert Murdoch and his third wife Wendi Deng Murdoch has apparently shocked those closest to the couple. The couple have been together for 14 years and have 2 young children together, Grace, 11, and Chloe, 9.
What’s also being reported is their close friends had no idea they were having any marital difficulties.
So how does a couple suddenly file for divorce and their closest friends have no idea that they are in trouble?
It’s a strange phenomenon, but sadly, not all that unusual.
Many couples are suffering in silence
Recent research has shown that the average couple waits 6 years after a problem shows up in their relationship before seeking help. So it’s no surprise that many couples are suffering in silence and struggle to reach out for help.
In the case of a celebrity couple, like Rupert and Wendi, the pressure to hold it all together and present a happy face to the cameras makes this all the more pertinent.
However, you don’t need to be a celebrity couple to suffer in silence. Many couples feel ashamed about having relationship problems and think ‘if we can’t work it out ourselves, we’re not going to work it out at all.’
I always find this a strange attitude really. I mean if you can’t work out your taxation, you don’t decide to not submit a tax return- you see a tax specialist or accountant. Same goes for most things in life- we seek the support of professionals who have the training in the very thing that we’re struggling with.
Couples therapists are much the same- we have specific training in the dynamics of relationships that give us the skills to assist couples who are having a difficult time. But I digress…so in the case of Rupert and Wendi, we don’t know if they reached out for help, but we do know they have decided to get divorced.
So if you are getting a divorce and there is no turning back for you (and hopefully you’ve exhausted all possibilities for working on the relationship before you throw the towel in) here are a few tips to help you divorce with dignity:
Work to separate in a way so you don’t injure each other or anyone else
I think the primary goal for any couple that is divorcing is to try and find a way that they can separate without causing injury to each other or anyone else who may be involved.
Divorce and separation are painful enough without making it even more painful by employing tactics such as revenge and retribution.
If you can separate or divorce with your dignity intact, you’re actually going to feel better about yourself and your ex in the long run.
When I see couples that are set on exacting revenge each other, they are often successful at destroying their partner to some degree, but sadly they end of destroying themselves in the long run. And then there are family and friends who get hit in the crossfire.
Hold your head high, do the grieving you need to do and get support from others as you move through this painful time.
Don’t use your children as pawns for your unfinished emotional business with your ex
One of the worst things a couple can do is to start to involve the children in the war that is unfolding between them.
Children are vulnerable and often don’t understand why their parents are divorcing. When you ask them to start to take sides, they will feel deeply conflicted and not know how to handle the conflict they experience inside.
Your children love both of you and to ask them to turn against your ex, or to start to poison them with cruel stories about your ex will only cause them pain and distress.
If you are in conflict with your ex-partner, the best thing you can do is completely remove the children from any situation where they may be witness to your disputes.
Remember, your children are incredibly open and aware of what’s going on around them and will often think the worst when they don’t understand what’s happening. It’s your responsibility to make sure you protect them from any negativity between you and your ex.
Take time out from your life to heal your wounds and regain your pride and confidence
There’s no doubt that a divorce is up there with one of the most painful events that a person can experience in a lifetime, aside from the death of a loved one.
If you’re going through a divorce or separation, you need to take time out to recover and heal.
It will not be a quick process and may take many months, if not years for you to get to a place where you feel confident and robust again.
The loss is enormous for most people, and you need to give yourself time to grieve. Some people say it’s worse than a death, because it’s not final- you know your ex is out there living their life and moving on- sometimes with someone else.
I think what this time in your life is calling for is to regroup. You need to take stock of your life and reassess where you’re going, what are your priorities, and what really matters to you in the long run.
This is probably not something you think about in the midst of your pain, but it’s true that most painful experiences in life are some of our biggest growing experiences.
Don’t rush into dating or seeing other people
I may be stating the obvious here, but it’s really important that you don’t leap straight into dating or starting a new relationship.
The reason for this is because you need time to regroup and heal. If you start seeing other people too soon, you won’t be in the headspace to be completely emotionally available to your new partner. And that’s just not fair to either of you.
Know that there will be plenty of time to ‘get back on the horse’. Your priority now is to create some space in your life so you can start to form your new identity- as a single person who has a lot of life in front of you.
The question is, what are you going to do with it?
Do you need relationship help?
Photo credit: AFP
Since 2003, Clinton Power has helped thousands of couples and individuals as a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney and online in Australia. Clinton regularly comments in the media on issues of relationships and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC Radio. Clinton’s eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship is available through his website or Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.