Why People Resist Change After Divorce

Abeer Bilbeisi, MA,DCH
International Divorce Coach, Parenting and Marriage Educator

When a divorce coach works with clients it is a fundamental aspect to help their clients to understand the most common reasons why they object to change.

It’s not possible for clients to be aware of all sources of resistance to change.

However educating your client to expect that there will be resistance to change and being prepared to manage it is a proactive step towards recovery.


Classic psychological reactions to change










At the end of the day all sources of resistance to change need to be acknowledged and the client’s emotions validated.

Why do clients resist to recover and move on from divorce?

  • Misunderstanding about the need for change

When the reasons for the change are unclear, a client may believe that remaining in the marital home is beneficial for the children, a new beginning and a new home will be resisted. This can cause an on- going battle of settlement.

  • Fear of the unknown

One of the most common reasons for resistance is fear of the unknown. Clients will only take active steps toward the unknown if they genuinely believe – and perhaps more importantly, feel that the risks of standing still are greater than those of moving forward in a new direction.

  • Lack of competence

This is a fear clients will seldom admit. But sometimes change to becoming single or a single parent requires changes in parenting skills, and some clients will feel that they won’t be able to make the transition very well. Connected to the old way — If you ask clients after 20 years of marriage to live independently, they will feel as if they are setting themselves up against all that hard wiring. They might be used to their spouse managing household bills and to become actively involved in their finance management is a challenging learning process.

  • Low trust

When a client does not believe that their ex-spouse can manage parenting independently there is likely to be resistance to co-parenting.

  • Temporary fad

When clients believe that the change initiative is a temporary fad and their spouse will be returning to the matrimonial home.

  • Not being consulted

If clients were part of the divorce decision there is less resistance. Clients will cooperate and are likely to co-parent and settle the divorce outside the courts.

  • Poor communication

It’s self-evident isn’t it? When it comes to change there’s no such thing as too much communication.

  • Changes to routines

When we talk about comfort zones we are really referring to routines. Routines make one secure. So      there is bound to be resistance whenever change requires clients to do things differently.

  • Exhaustion/Overwhelmed

Clients who are overwhelmed by continuous change such as prolonged acrimonious marriage could resign themselves to any settlement and go along with the flow. You have them in body, but you do not have their hearts. Motivation to recovery is low.

  • Change in the status quo

Resistance can also stem from perceptions of the change that clients hold. For example, clients who feel they’ll be worse off at the end of the change are unlikely to give it their full support to recovery. Similarly, if clients believe the change favours their ex- spouse (unspoken) anger and resentment can hinder the recovery.

  • Benefits and rewards

When the benefits and rewards for making the change towards recovery are not seen as adequate for the client and their children the objection to recovery is inevitably slim.

Expecting resistance to change during your coaching programme is paramount towards self-evaluation. I believe that a thorough initial assessment on the clients’ perception of change is the backbone to any divorce recovery coaching programme.

Addressing those challenges from the start of your coaching process will allow you to effectively manage objections and help your clients towards a smooth transition.

About Abeer Bilbeisi, MA, DCH

Abeer is an International Divorce Coach, Parenting and Marriage Educator and Children of Divorce Coach. Abeer created her Growing through Divorce coaching programme and facilitates Beyond Divorce support group in North London.

Abeer has extensive experience in working with families of children with special needs and have produced many resources to support them during their divorce and the marital challenges.

Abeer also is a remarriage educator and prepare couples and blended families through their remarriages utilising the Prepare /Enrich Programme .



Feature Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

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