Marriage is perhaps the oldest institution in human memory. It comes from an impulse to define who is close to us in life, so we can build trust and share our experiences in safety. A huge majority of cultures around the world recognize marriage as the strongest voluntary bond a person can form. But this history can help us unravel the emotional issues surrounding separation and divorce.
The age of the idea of marriage is the first important clue. The phrase “until death do us part” refers to a death that often came sooner than it would have in the 21st century, due to our great recent advances in agriculture and health care. We’re now living long enough to enjoy and struggle through phases of our lives that many of our ancestors simply did not make it.
Trust is an essential component of everything we do together, from love to economics. If a partner does something that breaks our trust, it’s natural to want distance. It may be temporary, but it may not be. It’s not your fault that you’re considering the end of a marriage if its basis is gone.
Emotional issues are always expected in divorce, especially if child support or custody must be worked out. Psychologists call these and similar problems “phase of life” issues, meaning they relate more to what you’re going through than who you are as a person. It’s important to remember that negative feelings are natural.
But it’s never a good idea to act on them alone. A lawyer’s help in your separation or divorce may give you space to deal with these feelings while someone else is handling the legal details.