The Divorce Course

Everyone has heard of pre-marital counseling, wherein engaged couples spend time with a clergyman or family therapist who discusses various aspects of married life. Experts say this can often help couples resolve difficult issues before those issues can create a rift in the relationship.

So what's so surprising about the idea of, well, post-marital counseling -– a class for couples who are breaking up that can teach them how to get through the emotionally difficult and draining process of ending a marriage -- without harming their children.

For eight years, Dr. Mark Banschick of Katonah, N.Y., has taught divorcing couples how to behave when in the middle of a divorce and keep it on track.

"We talk about the hazards of divorce and how to protect yourself. It's very similar to defensive driving," Banshick told Early Show special contributor Jill Brooke in part two of the series, "Reconcilable Differences."

Because pain can make people self-centered, they become less able to function, he notes.

"If a person gets divorced, they're supposed to feel like they're failures. So when you're supposed to feel like you're a failure, you've got to blame someone. And so you're going to blame the other person," said Banschick.

Common mistakes are leaning too hard on youngsters for emotional support or using the children as sounding boards when blaming the spouse for problems.

Banschick says he often relies on role-playing to show parents how harmful their actions, even unintentionally, can be for kids. "Adults need to go to adults for help, not to their children. Clergy. Therapists. You go to your best friend. But don't go to your children," he says.

After one role-playing session, a mother was asked if the course, and the new way of thinking, was effecting her divorce.

"A common situation, and one I experienced, would be when I was starting to say something about the children's father that was not kind," said participant Sue Price. "It was negative. And just realizing that I needed to keep that to myself, and not say it in front of the kids, because it puts stress on them (was beneficial)."

"It enables you to see what the behavior is if you don't do the right thing, how it's going to affect your kid. ... It's a more dramatic picture," said another mother, Susan Tracy.

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