When a couple starts down the path of divorce, it’s as though everything changes. Nothing is as it was – the ground has shifted forevermore. And the upheaval affects everything: finances, children, household harmony, in-law relationships and even pets.

Couples feel self-conscious in this new scenario. As they embark on mediation, I am often asked by one or the other, “Are we normal?” What I think they’re asking me, between the lines, is: “Because our behavior feels so foreign to us, do we seem crazy? To the outside world, do we look unhinged, because we certainly feel that way?”

Who is this Person?

Going through a marriage breakdown can feel like crazy-making. Who is this person who was your spouse, and only a short while ago you could depend on, and could put your faith in? He or she is now a stranger. And not just a stranger, often an unfriendly one, and at the very least, no longer on your side.

Couples who come to my office to learn about divorce mediation feel bewildered, unseated, and uncertain. How in the world will they make order out of this disorder? Can they ever make sense of anything again?

Yup, You are Normal

I tell couples that they are normal…normal for the circumstances they are experiencing. They’ve landed in a whole new terrain of emotions, expectations and challenges. I assure couples that they will get through this, and there is a better life on the other side of this painful event.

What couples ARE in my office – is safe. They don’t have to feel foolish, or embarrassed. They can argue, cry, take time-outs, and occasionally even laugh. The mediation space allows parties to confidentially communicate whatever is important to each of them, so that they can begin to collaborate, as painful as it may be, on what the future will look like for each of them, and their children if they are a family.

As crazy as divorce feels, all the emotions parties experience are normal. The good news is that, with time, normal will feel brighter.