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Where Social Skills Means Building Relationships



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Digitizing a Support Group

I was recently asked to monetize and digitize reasons for men to come to a divorce support group.  I was told that men in America would come if I had the productivity numbers to prove the group’s efficiency.  A was a little thrown off by the request, but I went to Google anyway and found out some interesting answers.  I found that divorce is a $28 billion dollar annual industry with the average cost of an individual divorce ranging between $15,000 and $30,000.  Most of that is calculated through the attorney fees and costs relative to the process of getting divorced.  When you add up the cost of dividing up your personal assets, cost of starting over, and a variety of childcare cost, the financial price becomes even more astronomical.  First statistic… divorce is expensive.

Google told me that the divorce rate is 50% for all first time marriages, it ends on average after 8 years, and you will be married again on average within 3 years.  The divorce rate goes up to 60% for second marriages, and 70% for third marriages.  Second statistic… divorce happens a lot. 

Divorce is also considered the second most stressful event in an adult’s life, with only a death of a spouse ranking higher.  This is neither a judgment nor an affirmation of divorce, but rather some statistic to mull over.  Third statistic… divorce is traumatic.

What can I, a professional counselor, offer to a client who is thinking of, is dealing with, or has dealt with a divorce?  Can I promise 23% less anxiety and 35% more confidence?  Can I promise an improved daily functioning of 52%, and lower the ranking of this life event to #8 on that individual’s life scale?  No, I cannot.  In fact, I cannot promise any numerical value to your experience, because we, humans, are not digital beings but rather analog.  As much as we want to predict the future with numbers, the human emotional experience is not numerically predictable.

A second reason I cannot promise any progress or gain is because I am not the one who is doing the growing.  I do not have the power to change you, only you have the power to change you.  Just like a fitness instructor cannot make you become stronger, only you can do that.  The fitness instructor and I can guide you in the right direction, but ultimately YOU have to do the work.

Have you ever heard of people saying that they “don’t deal with that emotional stuff”?  What they are essentially saying is that they are not in tune with their emotional experience.  Cognitive information is great because it gives us information about our experience, but our emotions help us give meaning to that information.  If you choose to ignore your emotions, you are limiting your life’s experience by 50%.  Would you ever want to do anything with only 50% of the information?  I know that answer is no, so why would you limit yourself by not dealing with that emotional stuff? 

Yes, emotions are hard to deal with, yes emotions can be confusing, and yes emotions cause pain; and by understanding the signals, meaning, and the effect of emotions, your life will be enhanced and you will experience much more joy. 

There is a scene from the famous movie “You’ve got Mail”, that compares the willingness to embrace the emotional experience or not.  Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) and his father are in their boat, after both men have ended their relationships.  The father says:  “I will have to live out of a suitcase for at least three weeks, and then there is the inevitable legal hassle, more of your inheritance down the drain…  But then I get to meet someone new.  That is the easy part.”  Joe responds with “Oh, right.  A snap to find the one single person in the world who fills your heart with joy.”  His father looks up with a puzzled face  “Don’t be ridiculous.  Have I been with anyone who fits that description?  Have you?”  From there Joe pursues the one person that fills his heart with joy, Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan).

In a divorce support group, you can begin to talk about your painful experience, figure out how to have a better future relationship, and know how to find the person who fills your heart with joy.  This cannot be measured through percentages or a dollar amounts, but it will help you to become a better you.  So, get out of your head, listen to your emotion, and learn about yourself, because it will lead to a happier, healthier, and longer life.