Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Post-Divorce Growth

Did you know there’s an area of research about posttraumatic growth? It focuses on how people make positive changes after trauma. I’m not saying getting a divorce is like being in a train wreck…okay, I am saying getting a divorce is like being in a train wreck. Hence the applicability of the posttraumatic growth literature.

I see many people who display just the sort of changes reflected in this area of research, post-divorce, including:

Increased ability to see possibilities in things. Many develop new interests that either were actively thwarted by the former spouse or simply not supported. Necessity being the mother of invention, sometimes the need to earn more or change the work schedule enables people to create more meaningful and satisfying lives.

Positive changes relating to others. I often see people putting more effort into relationships, accepting that they need people (you know, people who need people are the luckiest people).

Changes in personal strengths. Seeing the self as stronger is a common side-effect of divorce. You do what you gotta do, and perhaps never realized before that you could.

Changes in spirituality. I see a lot of personal growth. Leaving a significant relationship may start a search for meaning or a desire to become more accepting of the curve balls life throws our ways.

Maybe having a new appreciation of the value of one’s life, as real train wreck survivors are likely to have, is not a typical byproduct of divorce. Then again, we don’t have to worry about survivor guilt, do we?

Just for fun, you can take the Post traumatic Growth Inventory.

Now that I've used the line, the only song that comes to mind is People, Barbra Streisand.

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