Breaking The Legacy of Divorce
Learn to break the legacy of divorce with practical tips and wonderful stories of hope and lasting love.
I interviewed licensed therapist and author, Terry Gaspard, on Last First Date Radio about Breaking the Legacy of Divorce. Terry is a licensed therapist who specializes in divorce, children, and families, as well as a nonfiction writer and college instructor. She is a regular contributor to Huffington Post Divorce, divorcedmoms.com, and divorcemagazine.com.
Terry wrote her new book “Daughters of Divorce” after watching many of her female patients struggle with the distinct emotional challenges from their parents’ divorce – and after experiencing it herself. It’s a guide to help daughters of any age overcome the legacy of divorce, so they can establish healthy, happy, and long-lasting relationships. “Daughters of Divorce” can be ordered on her website movingpastdivorce.com.
Following are highlights of our radio interview.
Breaking the Legacy of Divorce
Why did you become interested in researching and writing about breaking the legacy of divorce?
Growing up in a divorced family in LA was interesting, because I grew up in the culture of divorce. I have three older sisters, and I was studious and obedient, a people pleaser. I managed things well until I hit the wall in college when I was dating. I realized I had a very negative opinion on marriage. I had a tendency to jump headfirst into relationships, and form commitments too soon with men who were not a good match, including my first husband.
He and I never really had much in common, except we had two great kids together. I learned that I followed a similar pattern to all the divorces that run in my family [divorces go back a few generations]. I had so little awareness about my choices in partners. My daughter Tracy, who wrote the book with me, noticed that she had views on love and commitment that she wanted to explore further.
So, we sat down and wrote questions about what we wanted to ask daughters of divorce in interviews. Most of the women we interviewed were young, mid-twenties, and they wanted to tell us their story and learn tips to improve their relationships. Some of the issues that the women brought up were so close to my heart. These women gave us strategies, too!
Through our work, we discovered seven pathways which turned into seven steps towards healthy relationships.
You mention that vulnerability is one of the keys to forging healthy relationships. Can you say more about that?
After reading Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability, I realized that when we are genuine in our relationships, we run the risk of being rejected by the person we live. And you can’t have that intimacy without taking that risk and being vulnerable.
Here’s a story about vulnerability. Jenna and Trevor. Her father left on Valentine’s Day and went off to have an affair with his mistress, and he shared it with his daughter. She had trust issues for men. She had chosen men who were disrespectful and sometimes abusive. She moved to a new state, went to college, and met the man who is now her husband. She found in him a comfort with him that she hadn’t found before. She would suspicious of his texts and Facebook messages. She’d get into fight or flight mode. Through his gentle reassurance, she rebuilt trust. It’s been five and a half years, and they are doing great now!
What are some steps that adult children of divorce can take to establish happy, long-lasting relationships and break the cycle of divorce?
1. Gain more awareness about the unhealthy patterns you witnessed growing up.
2. Forgive yourself and other people, primarily your parents. It doesn’t mean condoning, but giving it less power over your life.
3. Build trust. First, trust yourself and become better able to trust your instincts. Determine how much [of what is happening in your relationships] is based on your past, and how much is about the present.
4. Look at different ways to resolve conflict.
5. Rebuild your self-esteem. Work on feelings of shame that you may have internalized because of the divorce.
6. Vulnerability. Work on being more authentic with yourself and your partner.
7. Commitment. Learn smart ways to work towards commitment without rushing things.