Psychological Self-Help

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support groups; Kahn, 1990; Gullo & Church, 1988; Krantzler, 1977;
Golabuk, 1990; Fisher, 1981, 1992). More information and the location
of support groups can be gotten from Divorce Anonymous, 2600
Colorado Ave., Suite 270, Santa Monica, CA 90404 (phone: 213-315-
6538). Books for helping children cope with divorce are in the next
3. If the divorce involves emotional conflicts over marital property or
children, consider using mediation (Emery, 1994; Wiseman, 1990;
Kranitz, 1987; Neumann, 1989; Johnson & Campbell, 1988, for highly
revengeful couples; Blades, 1985; Everett, 1985) rather than lawyers
in court. Margulies (1992) and Berry (1995) emphasize the legal-
financial aspects of divorce as well as mediation. The procedure of
"letting the lawyers fight it out" is often unfair, very traumatic, and
results in increased, lasting hostility (Kressel, 1986). Besides, lawyers
are costly and courts aren't always thorough. Most couples, who aren't
crazy with rage, can find a good mediator and together work out a fair,
considerate agreement (acceptable to any court) within five to eight
hours, say for $500 to $1000 or considerably less than going through
a nasty divorce. (Mediators are trained professionals, not your Aunt
Alice. Your marriage counselor can help you find a mediator.) 
4. Children should have equal representation in a divorce (in an ideal
world). The children must be reassured that they aren't being
divorced. They have a birthright to two parents, their time, love, and
resources. The children will remain "sons" and "daughters" forever
with the parents, even though the divorced parents will have no
relationship with each other. The most vital decisions in a divorce are
about how to continue and enrich each parent-child relationship, not
who gets the house and pays the bills. Child custody is an enormous
problem. Some of the children's stresses might be lessened if the
children were equally cared for by both parents even though the
parents are divorced (Galper, 1978). Yet, not all joint custody
arrangements have worked out well. Recent data suggests that father
custody or joint custody can benefit certain children, especially boys
(Warshak, 1992). The decision must be based on what is best for the
children, not on a parent's emotional needs. We need more study of
these matters. Another point here is that during a divorce, the mother
and father frequently get lots of attention and support from family and
friends, but the children are often neglected. As a society, we must
find ways to keep the parent-child relationships strong, in spite of the
animosity between the parents. Thus far, we are doing a very poor job
caring for our divorced children (see next section). But extensive
efforts are being made in the 1990's by courts around the country to
get divorcing parents to learn to cooperate effectively in providing two
loving homes--Dad's house and Mom's house--to their children. 
5. Use self-help methods to reduce your emotionality and irrationality.
Try to relax (chapter 12) and reduce the sense of loss (chapter 6),
stop your crazy-making and angry or self-critical thoughts (chapters 7
& 14), pore yourself into something--work, school, exercise, friends,
helping others, etc. (chapter 4), build your communication skills and
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