Most couples who divorce go through certain emotion stages as they deal with the divorce. Every person has a very personal journey to healing. Some people will stay in certain stages for months and not have any problem with other stages. The most important thing to remember is that you need to ask for help if you need it. Never be ashamed of needing help to deal with your divorce.
The first stage many people feel is denial. If you are caught off guard by the request for a divorce, you may be in denial for a long time. You may not have faced the issues in your marriage and swept them under the rug, believing you have a happy marriage. When a person is in the denial stage, many of their thoughts begin with “If I had…” You may think if you had been nicer or prettier or a better cook, your spouse would be happy.
When you stop feeling like the divorce is your fault, anger is often the next stage. You are able to see where your spouse mistreated you and are angry. Just remember that a little anger is healthy and can help you move on, but don’t let your anger take over your life. Too much anger will keep you from moving on and accepting the divorce.
Often, once a person realizes the marriage is truly over, grief takes over their life. A marriage that is ending is sad on many levels and you have every right to feel grief over the loss of your dream of “happily ever after.” Even if you are the one asking for the divorce, grief does occur. No one likes to see a marriage end in divorce and you will feel the same grief as your spouse.
Guilt and regret are also stages of coping with divorce. These feelings can occur at any time during the divorce and don’t necessarily follow a pattern. If you are the one ending the marriage, the guilt over hurting your spouse and children is hard to handle. Both spouses often feel regret that they couldn’t work out their differences and save the marriage.
The last stage of coping with divorce is acceptance. Once both spouses accept that the divorce is going to happen, they can begin to work together towards an amicable divorce and start to move on with their lives. It is always best to try to work together towards a divorce settlement than to fight over every detail. Only when both spouses accept the divorce as fact can they hope to work on the amicable divorce that is best for their family.
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