The divorce, the break up and the grief

valerie-grumelin-halimi-psychotherapeute-psychologue- relation-divorce- separation-problemes- conjugaux- deuil- -divorce- séparation--problemes- conjugaux-probleme-de-couples-1The divorce

After a divorce the chances of another marriage succeeding diminishes. And it is all the more true in the case of women than men. Mourning is difficult to do! You must not see any sign of destiny in this but only a lesson for life is what they say to themselves. Following an unhappy experience, the individual subjects in the broken marriage, are more careful, they take lesser risks in their relationships and thus obtain lesser results.

To be more precise, you observe that the most reluctant people in a new stable relation are those who were already married or those who already have children. The desire for the other is always present but often, in this case, you prefer a relation outside of marriage and sometimes even outside of the house.

Divorcees have a tendency to meet other divorcees more easily than people who had never lived in a marriage. This preference fades away as age advances. In view of the results, the best solution for divorcees to be successful in a new relation is to favor a simple cohabitation.

Perhaps, the most difficult thing to manage in a new couple constituted of partners from separated or divorced previous relations is the situation of the children. Generally, in majority of the cases, the mother is given custody of the children while fathers are given secondary roles as visitors and hosts for a limited period. Worse still is when visiting rights are given for meetings at a specified location! These imbalances in relations do not favor good understanding between “reconstituted” couples. Family mediation here is vital and can help in soothing and balancing parental situations. There are still a large number of children who do not see their fathers as flexibly as they should. Behavioral therapy helps each one to organize themselves in their proper place, role and functions as parents and ex-partners. Many women look for a “second father” for their children, and that seems to be relatively well accepted. But do you know of too many women who would like to take up the role of a second mother? It will be better if society returns to defending the original family which is perhaps simpler to live and manage as long as we don’t ask of it something it can’t give. The search for perfect happiness works on you many times over than you think, and to find yourself with broken families, couples that crisscross and mix, is perhaps the start of a vicious circle which is all the more bigger when you take into account the distress of the many children who do not have too many benchmarks.

Each year in France, more than 100,000 couples separate. How do they live after that? Men and women, are they equal when faced with the “single again” status?

valerie-grumelin-halimi-psychologue-psychotherapeute-mediation-familiale-harmonie du-coupleToday, they are less equal than yesterday and without doubt more equal than tomorrow. Contrary to the adage, the loves of our times are fickle and light, and marriages, ephemeral. In the 90s, divorces happened four times more than 30 years previously, and a third of the couples married in the 80s were divorced already or going to divorce. Each year, there are more than 100,000 who go to face the judge, to increase the ranks of a growing cohort: that of the “single again” brigade who are going to have to reconstruct an existence. This was a major phenomenon in those years which revealed a profound change in mentality: divorce was made banal, guilt deserted it. The interest of children is no more an obsession: better for them to face the trauma of a separation than the spectacle of parents tearing at each other. The family as a primitive unit has literally exploded. It has become evolutionary. Therefore, one must learn to live after a separation. But how? Is there a life after divorce? In fact, there are many lives, sociologists say so. More or less young, more or less wealthy, more or less sociable, the singles again group follow unequal paths, always influenced by a sum of sociological, cultural and financial factors. “Divorce is as much a financial catastrophe as it is a psychological experience”, explains Patrick Festy, research director at INED who conducted a microscopically detailed study, of the fate of 2300 divorced women. All of them, without exception, invoked the fall in their standard of living. “I started from zero”, “I could not do it, I did not have enough means to go out or receive people at my place”. The cost of separation is as important as the fact that the couple finds itself at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Men are twice as less likely to undergo a notable drop in their standard of living. Often, it is because the women are not working, or their ex-partner does not pay them their alimony, or because most frequently they are asked to leave the family home.

“For divorced women, work is the first lever to re-integration”: relation networks are also determining factors. “It was my hope of salvation”, said Frédérique, 43 years old, a bank executive and mother of two girls. “Thankfully, I had close friends and a good psychologist too, so, I could talk about it and be supported and helped to overcome it”, said Chantal. But “friends are hard to come by in less advantaged background social groups. A marriage break-up could also work in tightening familial bonds”. But there too, it is the least well-equipped who get the least financial or psychological help.

In fact, the fate of these single again people, plays out in four principal ways. In the solitary category, the “isolated” sink slowly into loneliness or even exclusion; on the other hand, the “independents” discover between happiness and anxiety, a new autonomy. The “reconstructed”, a species which came into being in the 80s and now growing, invent unusual families, constructed with patch-work pieces. Finally, the “related” category, which is a mutant one and a minority, stands on the fence between free union and celibacy, considering themselves as couples but living separately.

valerie-grumelin-halimi-psychotherapeute-psychologue- relation-divorce- separation-problemes- conjugaux- deuil- -divorce- séparation--problemes- conjugaux-probleme-de-couples-4The isolated

Pierre was this sort of person: 50 years old, with a calm voice and dark eyes, hurt very deeply when in 1992, his wife left him suddenly, after more than 20 years of marriage, with the responsibility of looking after their son. “She broke up the family”, he kept repeating in sessions. After successive depressions, he just folded into himself and became maniacal. He neglected his work and forgot his friends.

In 46% of the cases, separation results in break-up of the social network. The women feel very keenly, a feeling of confinement, solitude, even when they often visit their own family. Therapeutic help here is of prime importance as an accompaniment to this new life in order to avoid grief and grudges transmitting to the children… why? Generally, men are able to form another new relationship more easily with women much younger and attain the status of a couple faster, women often suffer more from a divorce, for the most part, women are given custody of the children and they are hesitant to get into cohabitation mode too quickly. A lot of anger, feelings of injustice and disagreeable feelings that are felt during this period get eliminated during sessions with the psychologist.

Free womanThe independents

Laurence understood these feelings very well. When her husband left her in 1988 for a woman of 28, after 21 years of marriage, leaving her with two children aged 17 and 9 years, she knew she had no time to lose. After many months of depression and therapy, she regained control, took up many dance courses, registered in a leisure club and soon, re-created a circle of girlfriends. These “independents” appreciated being – finally! Masters of their destiny, and of their daily choices.Even if the divorce impoverishes them, they feel richer, because they are able to better control their emotions. Of course, they do talk of their fears for the future of their children, of growing old alone, but also of the surprising quality of life that being independent gives them.

The reconstructed families

valerie-grumelin-halimi-psychotherapeute-psychologue- relation-divorce- separation-problemes- conjugaux- mediation-familiale-3Such families are sometimes reconstituted with a mistress or a lover who was there before the divorce, sometimes after years of being a “monoparental” family. These assorted constellations of parents, step-parents, and children who move from one home to another, disorienting statisticians and plunging jurists into bewilderment, multiply continuously; today we have more than 700,000 homes like this in France, in which live more than 1.5 million children less than 25 years of age.

This situation which we have a tendency to present as idyllic, is often difficult to live. The creation of a new couple evokes as much disarray in children, who view the arrival of an undesirable person (and sometimes even their children) with whom they have to compromise, as it does in the “ex” who inevitably feels threatened in his role of a biological parent. Especially since there is no standard, the law remains hopelessly mute and incapable of fixing any benchmark. It was necessary to invent the term “quasi-brother” or half brother to designate the son – with whom the child cohabits – of the partner of the father or the mother. What to say of the ambiguity of the term “belle-mère” in French, which designates for the child, the partner of his father (step-mother) and for his father, the mother of his wife or ex-wife?

The recomposed family thus lives in a completely improvised manner, which gives free reign to all excesses. There is confusion and precariousness in these pieced families where traditional symbolic benchmarks are no longer valid, and the role of the fathers gets more and more confusing. And I will add, “A man who divorces his wife divorces always a bit of his children too”. We always try to reconcile the desire to be with the person we love and that to stay free, independent, as the times impose. With children in the mix…reconciling the irreconcilable is today, more than yesterday, the uphill struggle of a couple.

Thus, I am there to accompany two beings who think that they cannot hear anymore because they have stopped listening.

What is to be lost before deciding to destroy everything?? Just try, through the services of an external mediator to understand that “between us” does not have the same meaning as two sides and listening to the point of view of each other only enlarges the vision and does not shrink and explode it.

Couple therapy takes place as a couple and in a few sessions, you can see clearly whether you don’t hear anymore or whether you don’t listen anymore.

9 couples out of 10 after about 10 sessions realize that their love was still intact and was hidden behind the illusions of one and the disillusions of the other.


valerie-grumelin-halimi-psychotherapeute-psychologue- relation-divorce- separation-problemes- conjugaux- deuil- -divorce- séparation--problemes- conjugaux-probleme-de-couples-deuil-5The loss of dear ones/Grief

How to help those who are in mourning?

• Stages of mourning: shock, adaptation, creative stage

• Mourning experience: How to help mourning people?

Mourning following the death of a loved one or after a separation, is one of the big experiences of life which one day or the other, will befall each one of us. The source of big suffering, genuine grief, profound hopelessness, anxiety, depression and different functional manifestations, mourning is a factor of transient imbalance, a trauma with prolonged effects. In the majority of cases, even though it is painful in the extreme, grief takes its course and comes to an end. For a few, it might give rise to complications at the physical, mental health levels, psychological balance and social relations.

What is mourning?

Mourning or grief is the collection of the physical, psychological, affective and behavioral reactions when faced with the loss of a loved one, but also that of an animal, an object or a value to which you are strongly attached. It is exactly determined by the necessity to modify this attachment to the fact of the loss. Since early times, mourning has necessarily meant social reactions driven by the death of a person, that is, the collection of uses, customs, rituals and restrictions imposed in these circumstances. The intent in this is still conserved today in the expression “to be in mourning”. Today, grief means more and more, the psychological, subjective, personal or familial reaction, to the single loss of someone or something important, and the expression “mourning”, in the sense of having to accept a loss, is used so indiscriminately, that Mourning has a tendency today to distance itself from the death which it shares with social rejection. But death always remains at the heart of mourning because of its universality, its ruthlessness, its radicalism and its irreversibility. It constitutes loss and limit through excellence and the death of the loved one foreshadows our own one.

How does mourning run its course?

Every mourning is different because of the unique relation which unified the mourner and the lost person, but all mourning follows the same course through three stages: First, it is shock of the body at all levels: emotional, physical, relational. It is especially clear in the case of an accident or sudden or unexpected death, but it is also there in fatal illnesses which have a poor prognosis. A state of reaction depression follows soon. It is an authentic depressive state with its effect generally modifying general state in the form of appetite troubles, sexual and sleep troubles, intense fatigue, and profound suffering with a general disinterest towards the surrounding world, functioning difficulties and intense inhibitions. It is not until much later that consolation sets in, initially in the form of dreams. Termination of mourning manifests itself in the development of new activities and the formation of new attachments.