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Divorce

The Emotional Stages of Divorce

Going through a divorce can be one of life’s most emotionally difficult experiences. According to some experts, it is likely second only to the death of a spouse, child, or other loved one. One could say that a divorce is similar to a death as it is the ending of life’s most important relationship – the partnership you thought would see you through to the end of your life. It is also the end of a family dynamic of both parents living with and raising their children.

Deciding to end your marriage is a huge decision and, once you have reached that point, the emotional journey you will find yourself traveling will be one that involves many emotions. These are often conflicting emotions and can be triggered by random events and chance encounters as well the more obvious occurrences, such as seeing your ex-spouse with another potential partner. Understanding the roller coaster ride of emotions that you will likely experience can help you better deal with them as you move through the divorce process and try to move forward in life.

What You Should Expect During Divorce

The first stage will likely be denial. Because the prospect of divorce can be overwhelming, it is easier to deny it. This is especially true for the spouse who did not initiate the legal action and may have been blindsided by it. For the spouse who did initiate it, he or she most likely spent months or years trying to suppress disillusionment or dissatisfaction about the marriage before deciding to divorce. Denial at this initial stage is a form of suppressing one’s emotions.

Denial is generally followed by anger on both sides. After suppressing one’s emotions through denial, the anger and similar emotions will likely come flooding out. You may blame the other party, go through moments of rage, experience despair, loss, wanting to get even, and more. This phase can be lengthy and all-consuming. Making decisions about your divorce issues, such as property division and child custody at this point can be destructive.

The next stage is what may be called bargaining. This is where you go through doubt and even some guilt as you try to come to grips with this dramatic change in your life. You may still have hope that your marriage can be fixed and find yourself willing to do almost anything to put things back together. However, at this point, the divorce process has progressed too far and you will likely realize that your thoughts, suggestions, or any other measures you might take are not going to stop the divorce train or how your spouse feels about the marriage.

After the bargaining stage passes, blaming your spouse may fade into a growing acceptance of the finality of the situation. You will also likely confront how you may have contributed to the end of your marriage as well. You should see the end of the negative and conflicting emotions that have dominated your life for so long as you move into a healthier emotional state. This acceptance may be a long time coming but it will give you the freedom to move forward into a more positive future.

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