By Dana Tudose-Tianu
Most divorces come after the summer vacation and winter holidays, researchers have found. A 2016 study from the University of Washington discovered that divorce is seasonal during the periods following those holiday periods. That suggests that vacations may increase underlying tensions and conflict for couples.
Divorce is second, after the death of a spouse, on the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, which includes a list of the 43 most stressful life events.
But there are ways to save a marriage in crisis, as well as to go through divorce with as little pain as possible.
Not knowing what divorce entails and what its impact entails can cause feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that can lead to anxiety and depression.
Dana Tudose-Tianu invited Gabriela Saulea, a doctor, divorce coach, and founder of Bucharest-based Divorce Journey, a coaching and divorce support group practice, to share her story.
The beginning of Divorce Journey was rooted in my own divorce, which happened 6 years ago.
I had been married for 20 years and, at some point, we decided to get a divorce and follow different paths. At that moment, I was on the Board of an American pharmaceutical company, I was 43 years old, financially independent, and I was sure that my divorce would go smoothly.
What came as a shock was how hard, in fact, the divorce “journey” was. Even though I read a lot, before the divorce, about what happens afterwards, the changes took me by surprise.
Moving to a new house, my friends who stopped calling me, my daughter who started being angry, my inability to focus on work. After a while, I started experiencing signs of depression. It was a severe depression, which I treated with antidepressants for six months.
But, ultimately, this experience had me asking this question: why must a divorce be so hard?
Having met Americans who went through divorce, I learned about and researched some coping solutions that were available in the U.S.
I found a 12-step program which helped me recover and understand what had happened to me. I felt so grateful that this type of program existed and I decided to share with others what I had learned through my own divorce journey.
I decided to leave the corporate world, after a 20-year career, and do something to help women who are going through a divorce.
So, I started Divorce Journey in 2016. It began as a coaching office for divorced women, where I brought together all the human resources that are meant to help throughout the divorce: the lawyer, the psychologist, the psychiatrist, beauty specialists (to increase the levels of self-esteem). As soon as I began this work, men started coming to us and saying that they, too, need this kind of support. After that, my next realization was that children of divorce, as well, need support, as they suffer a lot through the process.
So, I set up this NGO, called Divorce Journey (Asociatia Calatoria Divortului). Each year, in Romania, approximately 17,000 children get through a divorce situation. Our mission included helping and educating the parents of as many of these children as possible, in order for them to be aware of the effects a divorce has on children.
Today, Divorce Journey offers two main types of services. The first one, the support groups, offer a very friendly environment for people to feel safe to open up. There are around 8-10 people who attend each session, and the program lasts for 12 sessions (12 weeks).
During the first 4 weeks, the participants practice Awareness, when they realize what exactly is happening in their life, what divorce really means and how it will impact them.
The next month they practice the “Assuming” part, and they focus on their own responsibility and role, and on what and how they can change.
The last module is called “Action”, where participants go through coaching sessions and they look at the future.
The second service is the one-to-one coaching service. It is extremely useful to people who are struggling to make the final decision. There are people who decide to give their marriage another chance, after the coaching sessions, and people who get unstuck in their decision-making process, and they get the clarity and courage to move on.
You can find out more about Divorce Journey at www.divorcejourney.ro