Know The Stages Of Emotions During a Divorce
Divorce, which is currently at epidemic proportions today, is still one of the most emotionally upsetting life crises a person ever goes through.
When a marriage has ended, it’s a tremendous loss and whenever there is a loss you must feel the pain. I hate saying this to my clients because I don’t like telling people thy have to feel pain in order to get better and move on. Unfortunately it’s true. You have to embrace the pain and move through it to heal. The process of going through a loss is called mourning. It is a complicated process that includes many feelings – grief, longing and yearning, hopelessness, anger, apathy, sadness, and despair.
When mourning the loss of a spouse, you will go through four stages. You may not pass through each stage in order, and sometimes the stages overlap.
Denial is the first stage
You do not want to face the reality that he’s gone, that he rejected you, or that he’s done something awful to provoke you to break up with him. You are in emotional shock. You may even feel numb.
Anger is the second stage
You are facing reality now and feeling enraged at your ex for betraying you, hurting you, or abandoning you.
However, don’t use your anger as an excuse to confront him, tell him off, or even worse, become violent. Acting out your anger with your ex won’t help the situation. In fact, it might make it worse. Most people don’t respond well to aggressive confrontation, so you probably wont the get response that you’re looking for. You may feel better momentarily but his response to your anger could result in your feelings more hurt, abandoned, or angry. Instead, share your feelings of anger with members of your support system.
The third and fourth stages are depression and despair
These are the most difficult and painful stages. Any past abandonments you may have struggled with, in your life which could contribute to your feelings of sadness and depression. This is an especially important time to call on your support system for emotional nurturing. Try to be self-comforting while you bite the bullet and struggle through the pain.
Although this stage may feel overwhelming, remember that time heals all wounds. You will eventually move to the final stage: acceptance which is when you begin to pull your life back together again.
In addition to your struggle to heal from your divorce you might have to do some hard work on coming to terms with dealing with your ex, in an emotionally healthy and productive way. If you don’t have children together, you can stay in touch or never speak again if that’s what you prefer.
However if you have kids you have no choice but to be in ongoing communication with your ex. That doesn’t mean you have to be best buddies though. Being friends can be very painful and even self destructive if your wounds are open and fresh. So it’s better to set firm boundaries for yourself and ex at this time. Only speak about necessary topics such as the children, scheduling, finances, the house etc.
Avoid social and personal discussions, until time has passed and both of you have worked through your feelings of loss and hurt. Sometimes professional counseling is helpful to get support during this difficult transition.
There is nothing wrong with starting to date when you feel ready. In fact meeting new potential partners and going out socially can be healing but take it slow in the beginning. It’s good to stay positive and hopeful. Some of my clients found their relationships and marriages the second time around to be more happy and fulfilling. So your marriage ending might be the beginning of a whole new journey for you.
By Rhonda Findling M.A.,C.R.C psychotherapist and author of “Don’t Call That Man! A Survival Guide To Letting Go”, “The Commitment Cure, What To Do When You Fall For An Ambivalent Man” and “The Dating Cure”. You can visit Rhonda’s web site at www.rhondafindling.com
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