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Thursday, November 17, 2016

What is an Everlasting Divorce?

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of Minnesota Marriage and Family Therapists about the idea of an Everlasting Divorce, or a divorce that seems to go on long after the papers have been signed and lost in a drawer. A regular divorce is hard enough, we can all agree. But, an Everlasting Divorce takes the stress of divorce and amplifies it.

What are some signs of an Everlasting Divorce?

1) You still experience high anxiety when you have to interact with your ex.

2) You fall back into old patterns of behaving when you have contact with your ex. For instance, you start checking his or her Facebook page or drinking a little more than usual to calm your nerves.

3) You find yourself getting triggered by things that remind you of your ex, maybe a certain restaurant, a song, a favorite food, or seeing a relative or friend.

4) You've tried therapy and it hasn't gotten you to a place where you aren't still "stuck" in the post-divorce drama.

An Everlasting Divorce is one in which neither partner can effectively disengage, whether that's emotionally, physically, or financially. An Everlasting Divorce is the continued struggle for power that occurs after the status quo has been disrupted.

"I think I might be in an Everlasting Divorce. So what? Isn't that how it is for everyone?"

Actually, it may be like that for a lot of people, but it doesn't have to be the norm and it doesn't have to be an inevitability for YOU.

There are a wide range of effects of Everlasting Divorce that you probably would rather not have.

First, your physical self takes a hit. Elevated cortisol (stress hormone) levels can create changes to your brain structure over time, making it harder to sleep, concentrate, or remember.

Your emotional self is definitely affected. You may have difficulty trusting others, you may be sensitive to rejection. You may even have difficulty reconnecting with your own thoughts and emotions.

Financially, you could be at risk because stress may be interfering with your ability to function at work or because you're spending a lot of money on attorneys, mediators, self-help books, or therapies that aren't working for you. Like having a chronic illness, being in an Everlasting Divorce is a long, slow road to dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

A lot of different factors can influence whether a divorce will be Everlasting or not. Sometimes, one partner has traits of a personality disorder, such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder. Sometimes, there is a severe lack of empathy or a trauma that seems overwhelming. Sorting out the reasons for the Everlasting Divorce can be a good first step to overcoming it.

To find out if you might be in an Everlasting Divorce, please feel free to call my office at 612-888-2522 or email me at

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