4 Myths about Divorce
A common experience for many young people in this current day and age is living
through a separation or divorce between their parents. For a long time divorce and separation
have been framed as a negative consequence of relational distress, however as our society
grows in its maturity so does our understanding of how separation and divorce though difficult
can be beneficial for the family system. Often there are many myths and opinions about
separation and divorce that are vestiges of the past that obscure the very real potential for
effective coparenting and cohesion between two homes. Author Isolina Ricci, Ph.D addresses
this in her work “Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making Two Home for your Child.” Today we will
be discussing 4 myths about divorce illustrated in this book .
1. “It Can’t Work”
- Ricci identifies that we are sent many messages within pop culture and the
media we consume that divorce is a messy destructive process that will not end
- There is often an attitude or expectation that separation or divorce will inevitably lead to battles for custody as well as inabilities to communicate and co-parent.
- Ricci asserts that there exists an alternative narrative outside the dominant discourse that divorce can be done in a cooperatively and with the best interest of the family.
2. “You didn’t try”
- Ricci describes a common theme typically surrounding divorce that the
relationship did not try to solve their problems.
- Ricci indicates that sometimes couples do not put in the work, however to apply
this generalization to all going through separation or divorce is an unfair
assertion and one that does not take into account the complexities and
differences of every relationship.
- Relationships can be worked on for years on end and still result in divorce and
that is not due to the moral failing or unwillingness of either partner, however
can be the most congruent decision for folks who have put in a significant
amount of time and effort into remedying their relational struggles.
3. “There is Only One Version of What Happened.”
- In any relationship be it romantic or not, there will always be multiple sides to
the story which can often between just as valid for each member of the
- Each person has their own subjective experience, though either member of a
relationship or exchange may be a part of “the same conversation” they will
almost always leave with very different interpretations of that interaction. These interpretations are influenced by ones previous experiences, values, believes, and frame of reference.
- It can be very uncomfortable for others to hold ambiguity and the pull is to
displace blame from oneself and distance oneself from the discomfort of their
role in the ending of their relationship.
- Except for in cases of abuse (where no one deserves or brings that type of
treatment upon themselves), each member of a relationship is acting on one
another constantly and the interplay between their two experiences and
understanding of one another. It is because of this that it is imperative to
recognize that both partners experiences are valid and contributed to the
termination or continuation of a relationship.
4. Two Options: Battling Exes or Perfect Divorce
- Ricci reports that separating parents often find themselves caught between two
extremes, either holding never ending grudges with one another and always
battling between themselves, or presenting with the “perfect divorce” in which
there is no conflict.
- This is an example of the all or nothing or black and white thinking fallacy.
- Rarely anything in this world is all or nothing, Ricci describes that what is more
likely is that parents will find themselves somewhere in between these two
- Ricci identifies that when parents put pressure on their separation or divorce to
be perfect, they hold themselves to an unattainable standard that sets them up
- Riccis asserts that though a divorce will not be perfect, like anything in this
world, however it can be intentional and still yield good results for the family.
Absolutes create an unrealistic expectation of ourselves and others, when we
give ourselves and others the room to make mistakes we can still build
something nurturing while not being without fault.
Ricci, I. (1997). Mom’s House, Dad’s house: A complete guide for parents who are separated,
divorced, or remarried. Simon & Schuster.