If you’re struggling to “get over” your divorce, you’re not alone. Most people don’t just wake up one morning to discover everything is magically better. Similar to the death of a loved one, divorce requires that people move through specific stages before they can grieve the loss of their previous life and create a better one.
Here is a brief description of the 7 emotional stages of divorce:
Shame. It’s painful to admit you couldn’t make your marriage last, and many people experience shame. The way to work through shame as a stage of divorce is to be brutally honest about your part in the demise of your marriage and commit to personal growth. People who can’t tolerate their sense of failure tend to externalize blame onto their ex – it’s all your fault! — thereby creating and perpetuating toxic divorces.
Loss. People need to grieve the loss of their former life and the loss of an idealized future. When they can’t accept that what they had is gone, they often create conflict to remain psychologically entangled with their ex. While this is painful, it prevents them from accepting that their marriage is truly over.
Fear. It’s normal to be afraid of the unknown and face new challenges: co-parenting, financial constraints, perhaps starting a new career. Some people choose to manage their fear by controlling or taking revenge on their ex – strategies that create more stress, conflict, and ultimately, fear.
Anger/Resentment. Most people feel anger towards their ex, especially if he or she behaved badly during the marriage. But when anger morphs into chronic resentment, people can spend so much time focusing on their ex’s wrongs that they lose sight of the good things in life — and never learn to take responsibility for their own problematic behavior.
Envy. Envying your ex and all those seemingly “perfect” people on Instagram for appearing to have a better life is a huge waste of time. It will lead you to overeat, overspend, settle for rebound relationships, and various other methods of cultivating misery.
Destabilization. Dismantling your former life and creating a new one is inherently stressful. It’s vital to finds ways to manage stress so you stay physically and psychologically healthy. Developing stress management techniques will also make you a better parent and co-parent.
No matter how painful your break-up, you can move through the seven stages of a divorce to a brighter future if you develop healthy ways to cope.
Getting the best information possible and getting your legal questions answered is a great way to develop a clear plan of action for you. Strategize early to avoid possible pitfalls in your divorce. Knowledge is power and it is also comforting to discuss your legal issues with an attorney who can provide you with the best ways to achieve your goals so that your interests and the best interests of your children are protected.
If you need more information about divorce or any other area of family law, please contact us to schedule your confidential consultation with one of our qualified and compassionate family law attorneys. And, look for our follow-up articles where we will provide you with the stories of Sam and Jennifer, two folks going through a divorce and a difficult time, just like you.