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Dear Dr. Yael,

I am recently divorced and living in my childhood home with my parents. I am writing to you in the hopes that my story will make people think and consider every option before getting a divorce.

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Marriage is work – and when you don’t work at it, it can explode all around you. That’s what happened to me. And then one day I was back in my parents’ home – living with the same rules I lived with as a child, only as an adult.

Marriage is hard – divorce is lonely. At times, its like I lost my best friend, even though at the end we were barely speaking to each other. The sympathy ended months ago. People don’t understand how hard it is to be alone and feel rejected – even if you were the one who wanted out.

On top of the loneliness, sadness, fear of what will be, I am back at home and living with my parents who treat me like a child.

Can you share some pointers for parents whose adult children move back home after a divorce, with or without grandchildren? Can you explain how important it is to have boundaries? Please help me cope with this challenging situation?

Hurting From My Divorce

 

Dear Hurting,

People often struggle in long-term marriages, thinking that somehow things will work out. When they finally divorce, there are many difficulties that both husband and wife face.

You are correct, being a woman in a divorced situation is very challenging. It is generally she who remains the primary caregiver to the children who may be traumatized by everything that has happened.

I do not know your parents, however, I am sure that this whole situation is difficult for them as well. It is challenging to answer your questions since boundaries are difficult when there are many people living in small quarters. It appears that everyone is suffering: Your parents no longer have their privacy. You feel infantilized by this entire situation.

You feel lonely, hurt, misunderstood and crave love and attention. Even though your marriage was difficult, I am sure that at times you miss the feeling of belonging and being in a marriage. People often treat single and divorced people inappropriately and forget to be sensitive to people in your situation. The hurts are not little hurts. They are deep piercing wounds that affect a person’s self-esteem.

I want to share two quotes that will help you.

“Strength does not come from lifting weights. Strength comes from lifting yourself up when you are knocked down.”

“In life people will give up on you. Just make sure that you don’t give up on yourself.”

All you can do is work on being the best and happiest person that you can be, so that you can continue to function as a healthy and loving mother to your children. Don’t speak negatively about your ex-husband, especially around your children. Research has proven that the more amicable parents are to each other in the process of divorce the more advantageous it is to their children. You want your children to have a positive relationship with both their parents.

In terms of your parents, I would suggest sitting down with them when everyone is calm and happy and having an open and honest conversation with them. It could make a difference.

Please seek professional help so that your family can heal and function as a complete unit.

Hatzlacha!

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to deardryael@aol.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.