The emotional stages of divorce can be overwhelming, frustrating, and difficult to deal with. Everyone reacts differently to divorce, and having an understanding of these different emotional stages can help you make a sense of all the confusion you are feeling. Developing a positive attitude and staying hopeful for a better life is key factors to making your recovery easier. Some of the emotional stages of divorce that you will experience will be easier to get through, while other stages will be more difficult. It is heartbreaking and difficult for anybody to go through the grief of losing a marriage. Even when the legal process of divorce is finished, many people still find themselves troubled about what actually went wrong in their marriage.
Here are reasons you may find yourself troubled as you go through the emotional stages of divorce:
• There was once a lot of love between divorcing couples, or that love may even still present as they file for a divorce. Letting go of someone you love is never an easy process.
• After spending many years together, it is likely that you held a special, trusting bond with your ex. With a lot shared between you two ever the years, ending it all with divorce is not going to be pleasant. All the physical and emotional intimacy will now be lost, and thinking about that is sure to fill you with negative thoughts.
• There will be changes in your daily routine and lifestyle which will simply be alien to you. When you lived with your spouse, you had a planned life, dreams, and ambitions together. The sudden absence of your spouse will result in drastic changes to your daily routine. Such drastic changes can be overwhelming, difficult, and stressful to deal with.
The Stages of a Divorce
1. Denial: It can be difficult to finally accept that you are in the middle of a divorce. You may think that it was your inability to solve your own marital troubles. This can send you into a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts which prevent you from accepting the truth. You may even believe that there is something you can do to get back with your partner. You find it hard to believe this is happening to you. You refuse to accept that the relationship is over and struggle with trying to find solutions to the marital problems. You spend time believing that if you do or say the right thing your spouse will come home. You hate feeling out of control of the destiny of your marriage. You are convinced that divorce is not the solution to the marital problems. Denial is a powerful coping tool some use to keep from facing the reality of their situation.
2. Shock: You may act in a way that is simply not normal. The sheer shock of the divorce will create different emotions inside your head which can make you panic. This shock becomes more pronounced when you realize how much time you invested in your marriage and family. You feel panic, rage, and numbness. You may feel like you are going crazy. You swing between despair that your marriage is over and hope that it will be restored. It seems impossible to cope with these feelings. Fear is common when considering a life alone; you may wonder how you are going to survive after your divorce. Many feelings and questions seem impossible to shake, but the most important thing is to remember that they are temporary.
3. Contrasting Emotions: It will be difficult to keep your emotions under control. From feeling hope to feeling simply nothing but despair, you will try your best to make sense of all that has happened leading up to this point. You may also find that all you think about is the failure of your marriage. Depression is a danger at this stage and you may cry at the drop of a hat. You can’t seem to settle your feelings and thoughts. You swing from being hopeful to feeling utter despair. During this stage, you try to break down what has happened in order to understand your pain and make it go away. This can lead to many destructive thoughts, from how things could have gone differently to placing the blame entirely on yourself.
4. Bargaining: You are still hopeful that your marriage will work out. You are willing to do anything to change yourself and just make things work. You may resort to drastic measures just to get your ex to change his or her mind. What you will need to realize at this point, though, is that you cannot control the feelings of other people. Bargaining only delays the harsh reality of divorce.
You still hold onto the hope that your marriage will be restored. There is a willingness to change anything about yourself and if you could just get it right, your spouse would return. The important thing to learn during this stage is that you can’t control the thoughts, desires or actions of another human being. The left behind spouse the one who didn’t want a divorce is likely to linger in this stage longer than the spouse who chose to divorce.
5. Letting go: When you realize that nothing you say or do will bring your marriage back, you stop blaming your ex-spouse and start to understand your faults and what contributed to the end of your marriage. You may also feel a sense of freedom and a better outlook about what the future holds for you. You can finally let go and move on. During this stage, you realize that the marriage is over, and that there is nothing you can do or say to change that. You become more willing to forgive the faults of your ex-spouse and take responsibility for your part in the breakdown of the marriage. You begin to feel a sense of liberation and hope for the future.
6. Acceptance: The negative emotions finally stop. You feel that you are finally fit to lead a life that is filled with happiness and satisfaction. This stage will accompany a time period of growth. You will finally understand that there is life after divorce, and that there are more positive things to look forward to in your life. The obsessive thoughts have stopped, the need to heal your marriage is behind you, and you begin to feel as if you can have a fulfilling life. You make plans and follow through with them. You open up to the idea of finding new interests. You no longer dwell on the past, but are emotionally prepared for the future. This is a period of growth where you discover that you have strengths and talents to build on and you are able to go forward in spite of your fear. Your pain gives way to hope and you discover that there is life after divorce.
Why Do People Grieve After a Divorce?
Why grieve the loss of your marriage? There are three reasons you may enter the grieving process during and after your divorce.
• You’re still in love or can’t let go. Loving someone means you were attached to that person being part of your daily life. Losing a spouse via divorce is equal to losing a spouse to death.
• You relied on your spouse. Your spouse, for years, was someone you could count on. You both gave and received many things from each other and your relationship. Due to divorce, you are losing both the physical and emotional aspects of the relationship you had with your spouse and came to depend on. Sexual intimacy will come to an end as will their emotional support.
• Lifestyle changes. You shared a home and family together. You had plans together and dreams of the future. Whether the relationship was stable or not, divorce means giving up the lifestyle you had (or hoped for) with your spouse and adjusting to dramatic changes in your life.
Pros of Divorce
While divorce isn’t a cure-all for every one of a marriage’s shortcomings, it does have its advantages. Here are four positive outcomes of divorce to consider.
An End To Physical and Psychological Abuse
If you’re married to a violent individual, then divorce via family court is your absolute out: No one should endure domestic abuse physical or otherwise. Even if your S.O. isn’t hitting you, they may be abusing you nonetheless. If they’re also incessantly screaming and yelling at you, name-calling and ridiculing, threatening you, and/or is overly controlling, then you need to end such maltreatment immediately and divorce is, therefore, your best option.
Freedom to Live Your Best Life
You only have but one life to live, and priorities change. The things that we once were okay with sacrificing for the good of the marriage, say, a lucrative job with extra-long hours away from home or even the general freedom to come and go as we please, can become our deal breakers. Thus, compromises we’ve made can seem more like bleak prison sentences than loving commitments to one another. Getting divorced may positively affect your life if you’re completely miserable in the marriage and your spouse is no longer willing to meet you halfway.
New Relationship Opportunities
Many people fall in and out of love at different points in their marriages and some relationships aren’t able to go the distance. If one or both of you realize you’re no longer in love maybe you’ve worked on it and failed to get the spark back, for example, or you simply aren’t willing to resolve your differences an amicable divorce is a viable option that will allow you to rebuild a healthy, rewarding life with someone new. Infidelity, too, is a good reason to divorce (albeit disagreeably) and splitting up will help open a new door to a relationship with someone you can trust.
Divorce can actually be a breath of fresh air for your children if you’re constantly ducking it out with your S.O. Whether your kids are often caught in the middle or merely present during your fiery disagreements makes no difference: If they’re constantly exposed to your fighting regardless of how old they are your home is no longer a happy place that feels safe.
Cons of Divorce
Divorce isn’t a panacea for everything that’s wrong in your life. It definitely won’t solve all of your problems and it could even create more issues.
Make no mistake: Divorce is as hard, if not harder, on children as it is on their parents and it can cause severe negative impact. You and your spouse can lessen the burden on your children by making their needs your number-one priority both during and after your divorce. Although a divorce that’s devoid of outward animosity isn’t always easy to promise, acting civilly during the process will help them navigate the changes your familial unit will undergo.
Divorce is costly. Both parties will incur attorney and legal fees and they only add up when children are involved. The primary parent will often be entitled to child support and in some cases, spousal support, and even the most robust household income will, in essence, be halved. Possessions, earnings, real estate holdings, and sometimes even debt, get divided between divorcing couples, which can take quite a significant financial toll.
Adverse Emotional Ramifications
Even if a divorce is somewhat civil, you aren’t immune to negative, even devastating, feelings that may follow. It’s also impossible to know beforehand when, and how hard, they’ll hit you. And regardless of the problems you two had, you’ll still harbor psychological attachments that can be difficult to shake. Loneliness, sadness, self-blame, and worry, albeit normal, can be notoriously tough to bear, too.
Process Involved in Getting a Divorce
Filing of Forms
The form that officially begins the process is the divorce or petition. This legal document sets out the reason why one of the parties is pursuing a divorce and also establishes that one or both of the parties meets the requisite residency requirement. A summons may also be required. The actual court where the case has been filed may require that specific forms be filed with the court.
Either at the same time as filing the other forms with the court or within a timeframe provided by the court, the complaining party may be required to complete certain documents pertaining to their financial information and file them with the court. These forms often disclose information about the spouses’ assets, debts, income and tax returns. The other spouse may also be required to complete such disclosures. The spouses must complete this step within a certain timeframe designated by the court, such as 60 days.
If both spouses have attorneys, the attorneys may engage in discovery. This is the process of gathering information about the other side in contemplation of litigation. In a divorce case, discovery may consist of asking the other party questions about the assets that they have their parenting and other issues related to the divorce. They may also ask for the production of certain evidence that they are legally required to obtain, such as financial documents, medical records or school records.
Mediation does not necessarily occur in every case. However, some states require that the spouses first go through the process of mediation before they will hear the case in court. Mediation provides a way for the spouses to attempt to reach an agreement without court intervention with a neutral facilitator’s help.
At this stage, the spouses may reach an agreement regarding material terms of the divorce. These issues may include decisions about child custody, visitation, child support and spousal support. They may also create an agreement pertaining to the distribution of their assets. If there is such an agreement, the spouses will present this agreement to a proposed judgment in the case.
In the event that the defendant did not provide an answer as required, the other party may have to wait a requisite period of time. Then, the complaining party may ask for a default judgment for all of the relief that he or she requested in the divorce complaint.
If the other party has provided an answer but the spouses are not able to reach an outside agreement, the case proceeds to trial. A court date will be set on the docket. You may have additional forms that you need to complete before your case is heard, such as requesting the judge to make orders concerning property or custody. A judge is usually the tier of fact. He or she may be responsible for establishing that the spouses have met the grounds for divorce, which parent should be awarded custody, the amount of child support, the amount of spousal support (if any) and how the property should be divided. If the spouses agree on certain issues, the judge may include this agreement in the order and decide the rest of the case.
Some states recognize that divorces can take a long time and individuals need some clarity while they wait. As such, they may have temporary hearings to establish such issues as who should have use of the marital home, with whom the children should reside, how much child support should be ordered, whether orders should be made to restrict certain financial transactions and whether one spouse should be required to pay for the other spouse’s legal fees.
Some jurisdictions also allow for a faster process to dissolve the actual marriage while not fully deciding other issues involved in the marriage, such as financial considerations. In these types of cases, the court decides whether or not to end the marriage while other issues are still pending.
Once the judge makes a final decision regarding the divorce, the court clerk will mail it to each spouse with a file stamp on it.
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