A divorce is an extremely emotionally traumatising experience. Emotions of loss, grief and even a sense of abandonment are often masked by deep feelings of anger, hurt and resentment.
In 2015, EMCC embarked on the development and deployment of Marriage Closure Therapy (MCT), a therapeutic intervention that sought to address the myriad of emotional stresses experienced by divorcing couples, by helping to facilitate the termination of an intimate but broken relationship in a manner that respects the dignity, deliberations and now decisions of parties.
MCT was created to assist couples in their personal transition pre- and post- divorce, deal with as much acrimony as possible, as well as help make the process of divorce less stressful for all parties – especially for the children.
Thus, the goals of MCT are firstly to help couples find closure by facilitating their discussions and managing their emotions. Blame is inevitable in a breaking down marriage, but when couples take ownership of their contributions and responsibilities, they begin working through their own hurt and grief as well. When blame and shame are addressed appropriately and adequately, couples are more ready to embrace a different relationship in the future together.
Secondly, MCT is a safe, non-judgement platform that helps divorcing parties understand how they each contributed to the breakdown of the marriage, and an opportunity to take responsibility for it. This brings us back to an earlier discussion about forgiveness and reconciliation. Couples rarely find themselves reconciling, but forgiving each other. By accepting and recognising each other’s contribution to the fall of the relationship, MCT helps remove the blame sting in the divorce couples, by dealing with it, and then allow couples to move forward and focus their attention on carrying out co-parenting responsibilities in a more amicable way.
Third, an important goal of MCT is to help couples establish clear boundaries in their new roles (asex-spousess, but parents of the same children) and to establish co-parenting outcomes collaboratively. It is important to have the child’s best interests at heart whilst dealing with the parents’ hurts. Through MCT, we hope that couples will work through their issues without triangulating their children and accidentally use the children’s wellbeing and future as bargaining chips, but to form a collaborative, respectful and meaningful relationship that is able to raise their children with the best outcomes for the child.
Finally, the child. MCT provides a platform for parents to discuss, or even break the news of their divorce to the child in the presence of a counsellor. This facilitated process by the counsellor gives all parties affected by the decision, an opportunity to talk openly about how they feel, their fears or even their pain. A counsellor works through the discussion with the family, and help emotionally and psychologically prepare the family for what is to come.
It started as a novel idea, whose results has been encouraging at both counselling and mediation, where couples while not being able to save their marriages, do not destroy their families as a result of a broken marriage.
The pain of a divorce is immeasurable. The same can be said of a miserable marriage. The loneliness, fears and anger in a divorce must be mitigated by the necessary emotional closure so that our children will not inherit a legacy of pain they did not choose.