I usually enjoy reading, but there are some books that no matter how well written they are, the subject matter is always going to make them hard going. I have just finished reading a book called “When ‘I Do’ becomes ‘I Don’t’” by Laura Petherbridge (ISBN 978-1-4347-6876-6).
The sub title describes it as “practical steps for healing during separation and divorce” and that is what I found. This particular book is written from a Christian viewpoint, yet deals with the basic struggles and questions of any person going through the pain of separation and the implications of impending divorce.
All the obvious issues were covered such as stages and types of loss, how this affects children and how to cope with the financial and legal minefield that develops. The more difficult areas of forgiveness and reconciliation, co-dependency and self esteem, and how all this affects personal faith were all dealt with in practical, down to earth ways without minimising the pain and frustration that inevitably goes with the process. The author included some helpful hints on how to cope with special occasions, when to start dating and the extra challenges of how this affects over 50’s. The challenges of blending families, step parenting and how to help family and friends who are going through this were also covered.
The chapter format followed a basic formula where one issue was defined and raised, followed by associated questions and answers, a prayer, further discussion questions and then ending with a response/to do list. The best use of this material would probably be in a divorce recovery group (continually stressed) but I have found it a good tool for one to one counselling as well.
Sadly, I am seeing all too many people going down this track and very few of the secular publications have proved to be helpful. These days I tend to shy away from overtly Christian books (like this one) but it was easy to read and provided a good overview of the key issues. The fact is anybody going down this track needs help, feels like a failure and will require a large injection of time, energy and resources if they are to grow through the experience. I have used this book as part of that dynamic.
Chaplain Ian Whitley