Many people believe that divorce is straight forward, one party decides to divorce, legal proceedings are completed and both parties go their separate ways. There is a lot more to the divorce process than people realise, in fact there are seven stages of divorce. The stages may not come in any particular order and some stages may be more painful than others but no matter what, you can get through them.
The seven stages of divorce are:
- Moving On
The Cognitive Stage
This is the thinking stage, you could be here for years wondering if divorce is the right way forward. Especially, when being married is the life you’ve always known and how scary it could be to change that. The divorce may not be your decision, you’re trying to convince yourself everything is great in your marriage then all of a sudden your partner says ‘IT’S OVER’. Those dreaded words that shatter your world. You’re going to feel scared of what’s to come. This is completely natural, you will have many questions going around in your head such as:
- How will I support myself/ family?
- How will the children/family handle it?
- Will anyone love me again?
- Can I ever be happy again?
- How will I handle being alone?
Talking about some of the questions you have to friends, family or even someone impartial at ‘Divorce Negotiator’ may help.
In time, when the divorce is over you will look back and realise that separating was the right choice. Whether your decision or not, the thought of divorce filled you with fear and sadness at the time.
The Spiritual Stage
No matter what your faith, you could feel that divorce is the worst sin of all and begin to worry about what people will think. You may worry how your church community may react and treat you. With your spiritual beliefs you could blame God for the situation you are in and question why he has put this upon you.
With spiritual beliefs there are also ethnic issues that you may consider. This can sometimes leave people staying in their marriage even though they are unhappy and know there is no way forward.
During the spiritual stage of divorce you can come to terms with who you really are as a person. This can make you stronger as a person, you will learn from the past and embrace all of what is to come. You will have a sense of belonging and love that comes from within and leads to an inner peace throughout and after your divorce.
The Emotional Stage
Often, people are not prepared for the emotional effects of divorce. The support you receive from friends and family may be a ‘let’s blame and badmouth the ex’ conversation. This is unlikely to help how you’re feeling.
Anger is an emotion that can be quite intense when going through divorce. It could be towards your spouse, the situation or even yourself. Anger is one of the most common emotions to experience especially if you have been hurt in the process leading up to the divorce. You will be angry at your spouse but also at yourself for not seeing the signs that led to where you are now. Try not to go over and over this in your head as it won’t help you cope.
It is common for women to feel guilty, even if they are not the one that initiated the divorce in the first place. The feeling of guilt is more likely if you have children, due to breaking the family up and the effects it will have on the children.
Grief is a natural emotion to be feeling when going through separation and divorce. Your marriage has ended so you will be going through a grieving experience, this is painful and upsetting. It’s not something you should worry about feeling, it’s a healthy response to what is going on in your life.
Both women and men can get terrified during their divorce. Fear can be experienced in many ways throughout the divorce process. It’s not an emotion you should feel ashamed of feeling.
The physical Stage
You may wonder how divorce affects you physcially, but it can have a big impact on you physically. The stress can affect your sleep and eating pattern either causing weight gain or weight loss. Keeping yourself physically healthy is vital when going though divorce. It helps you to make tough decisions and control your anger. Physical activity can provide you with a vent for any pent up emotion.
Be sure to maintain a healthy eating plan. Not eating properly can cause you left feeling tired and irritable, so ensure you maintain a good level of nutrition.
The Legal Stage
This is where you have an official document advising that you are no longer legally married. The woman can state if she would also like to return to using her maiden name following divorce by completing the relevant section on the initial paperwork.
The length of this stage will depend on many factors such as where you live, if you both agree on the division of property, income and assets. Amicable divorces can be less stressful for all involved and normally do not take as long to complete. The legal stage will also set in place parenting time (custody) and child support.
The legal aspects may include attorneys, mediators, certified divorce financial analysts, real-estate brokers and counsellors.
Some of the above may sound scary but with the support of ‘Divorce Negotiator’ we can help you through each stage and handle the legal details to complete your divorce in an amicable environment.
The Healing Stage
Trying to break those emotional ties that you have with your ex-partner will be incredibly difficult, it could feel like you’re on a very big rollercoaster ride, making your stomach do summersaults, leaving your head in a spin and thinking the feeling will never end.
Feeling these emotional up and downs will be because your grieving the loss of the marriage, what you both had planned and that you always believed your future was together. There are five stages of grief that you will experience which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, resentment and final acceptance. You will need to grieve even though it will be a painful experience but grieving and accepting will allow you to let go of what was your marriage and look to the future on your own with your new dreams.
The Moving-on Stage
This stage includes acceptance, you may have accepted your separation and the divorce but until you have been through all seven stages you cannot let go and feel freedom. This is likely to be due to being busy and overwhelmed at times with the divorce process as well as the healing process following acceptance of the divorce.
Throughout the separation and divorce you will have learned many lessons, some will have been from your marriage and ex-partner but also through the divorce itself. Don’t worry if following the divorce you don’t know what you want for the future but you should know what you don’t want to happen from the lessons you’ve learned.
Once your divorce is complete you will be living life as a single person, you may be excited about being single as you only having yourself to look after or you may want to get straight back into dating again. Remember you don’t have to rush to do anything, you can look forward to your future, create the life you want, make new memories and live new dreams.
Going through these seven stages is completely natural, they will help you get to a point where you can move on. As I’ve said before some stages may overlap and won’t follow any particular order, the order of the stages is not important but going through all seven is. If you’re ever worried or concerned, talking to someone will always help even if you’re not looking for advice but just someone to listen.
Divorce Negotiator offer help through every stage of divorce. Contact us on 0800 177 7702 for further information