Editor’s Note: Dr. Paul Hokemeyer is a nationally recognized expert on Eastern philosophies, relationships, and emotional healing. He is also a part-time Telluride local. His column, Shrink Rap, appears from time to time on Telluride Inside… and Out. He is also a regular contributor to the Dr. Oz Show and blogs for Dr. Oz regularly.

Unless you live in a cave, I don’t need to tell you Tom and Katie divorced without the usual, and in the case of celebrities, very public angry words, marital indiscretions and tears. The details are very hush hush. But the fact is another marriage has bitten the dust.

For those of us who’ve lived through our own divorce – and given the unfortunate statistics, we are many – the one thing we know for certain is this: there will be tears and heartache. Divorces, no matter how “amicable,” are painful and traumatic. They force us to face painful truths about the people we promised to love for time eternal and ourselves. They upset the apple cart of our lives and make terrifying messes of them. They make us feel like failures, fill us with shame and doubt about ourselves as lovable human beings and throw us into a void of uncertainty. In short, they ravage our lives like an emotional hurricane.

If there are children involved, we struggle to know what’s in their best interest. Do we stay in a loveless and perhaps abusive relationship for the sake of the children or is it in everyone’s best interest that we dissolve the marriage?  Women are often paralyzed by fear and the economic uncertainly they may face through a divorce. Men are often terrified of being emotionally and physically alone.

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I help people navigate their way through this often paralyzing and seemingly devastating process. My role in this regard is not to hand my patients a prescription instructing them to stay together or call it quits, but rather to help them process the pain, disappointment and betrayal that exists in their marriage. The goal is to help them reach a clear understanding of what they want to do and why they want to do it.

To accomplish this, we need to get clarity on some basic concepts about the role and value of marriage as an institution and its place in our lives – and I say this as a man who went through his own traumatic divorce.

If you too are considering a divorce, I encourage you to engage in a similar process of assessment. By getting clear on a few basic principals and beliefs, you can anchor yourself during divorce’s emotional storm.

We must all live our lives by guiding principals. This is especially true when the winds of uncertainty gust and the rains of disappointment fall around us. Divorce is traumatic and life-changing. It stabs at our hearts and wreaks havoc with our souls. Know there is protection from the storm and a new life at its end. Trust yourself and your instincts. Honor yourself and your life. You deserve to be happy, healthy and to thrive in your relationships and in the world.

For further clarification about what basic concepts about the role and value of marriage means and specific questions you should be asking yourself if you are considering divorce, click the “play” button and listen to my conversation with Susan Viebrock.


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