Evan roared at Sloane. She had just woken up and already her husband of a decade was in a fierce mood. Her heart started pounding and she raced into the bathroom and locked the door, breathless. What could be wrong this time?

And how long must this go on? With three children who loved their dad, she’d always had the same answer: Leave things alone; let him calm down and then go on as if nothing happened. But this was taking its toll. Sloane was starting to get stomach aches that ripped her insides up. She saw a doctor but all he could do was write a prescription. He had no way to fix the problem that caused her stomach ailment, and she didn’t either.

Actually, she did, but she didn’t know it.

Sloane was torn between absorbing this terrible psychic—and physical—pain and just calling it quits, but she didn’t want to go through what Meredith went through.

Meredith was a first cousin. Their mothers were sisters who were very close and she and Meredith grew up together. She had danced at Meredith’s wedding and she almost went to Meredith’s funeral.

What An Ugly Divorce Can Look Like

Meredith, too, had an abusive husband. Meredith, too, had reached her limit. She had taken the divorce route. That choice not only pitched her into a hell that made her rotten marriage look good but she almost died. It wasn’t enough for Meredith’s ex to hire the best lawyers to lie about her in court documents and run up a legal bill that she needed to get the help of family and friends to pay. It wasn’t enough for Meredith’s ex to poison the children against her on his weekends with the kids, nor was it enough for him to threaten her harm and then lie about it to the court and to the children. It wasn’t enough for him to vow to ruin her financially in the legal system and to leave messages on her phone with unprintable words. No, this angry, out-of-control man almost killed her. And that was the lucky part.

You see, the legal system has some weird rules, and one of them is that you can’t serve a restraining order on someone for whom you have no proof of threat or actual harm. For several years Meredith had tried to serve one on him; she’d also tried to convince the court that he was dangerous and should not be alone with the children. All to no avail. Frightened, she knew it was only a matter of time before he would lose it and try to kill her.

The good part is that he didn’t succeed, and the better part is that she now had proof of what she’d been trying to get everyone to hear for the past three years. She called 911 immediately, took pictures of her bruises, and didn’t listen to his sob story or threats when he wanted out of jail.

So Meredith didn’t die and she did get a restraining order. She’s still in court almost every two weeks; she’s still fighting over her kids’ visitation with their father, although now it’s supervised; she’s still a psychological mess from his animosity and veiled threats.

Sloane does not want to go down the same path her cousin did. She doesn’t have to. Ugly divorces like this can be prevented.

It’s called Marriage Counseling.

Try Marriage Counseling To Make Divorce Civilized

What if you just don’t want this marriage? What if you can’t stand your abusive spouse? – Then I’d say you’re normal. Who feels loving toward someone who mistreats you?

But, see, it’s not about love just yet. You’re jumping the gun. For you, marriage counseling is not about love. It’s about healing. And, most importantly, it’s about preventing something bad from escalating into something so ugly that people commit suicide over it. Don’t strive for love; strive for civility. Later on, way, way later on, in a future that today you can’t imagine, there is a chance for love to flame again, but I don’t want to distract you with that right now. When you strive for ordinary civility and you get to that place, then you can decide if you want to go to the next step in the marriage counseling process or whether you are ready to quit. At least quitting will be civilized.

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