When some people think of divorce they think of a ‘court case’, however, in reality, for those going through it, there’s more to divorce than legal proceedings.
Divorces are very painful experiences with complex ramifications, and there is no denying that the legal proceedings can be stressful, adding to the already devastating ordeal, although, psychological and emotional responses are the factors that tend to reflect how each party will act throughout the legal aspects of the divorce.
With such a wide range of Psychological and emotional aspects involved in a divorce, this article focuses on three fundamental aspects at some of my dear members request, and they are as follows:
The Separation from the person
We all have been through complicated stages of relationships, where we find ourselves dealing with conflict that is never pleasant but possible to resolve, however when we agree to separate / divorce that is the end of it and with it there is this sense of relationship failure.
Often emerge unanswered questions like: Was I good enough husband/wife? Is there anything else I could have done to save the marriage? Why me? Why now? These questions suggest one is feeling guilty – a ‘failure’ and although this is very common it is not realistic or healthy to pressure / criticise oneself in a moment of suffering, and thinking that all is within your control, because in fact not all is.
The decision to end a relationship even though not always mutual, still needs to be mutually respected and accepted and for that you know you are not the solely responsible for the success of the relationship. If you are feeling stuck in these types of questions, feeling like a failure, remember that relationships fail for a reason and as painful it feels right now, this is the best course of action, still that does not mean you are a failure.
Once you accept the fate of your marriage, that divorce is inevitable, there are still painful aspects to consider. After all, you have been married to this person, you have shared your life with him/her, it is only natural that you miss his/her company – the routines as a couple and that leads to another important emotional turmoil – the sense of loss of identity; from being part of a couple to now starting a new single life.
When we experience being with someone we loved and was part of our lives, we develop almost a shared identity as part of being a couple – a particular dynamic that distinguishes a specific couple, and when that changes it feels like removing a piece of us…
You’re starting over with a new sense of identity as a single person, as a result, being able to adapt to a new set of circumstances is greatly necessary.
However, the so needed adaptation to this new reality is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight, so during this period between the divorce and being able to actually move on from it there’s this period where life can seem daunting, understandably so.
In addition, when you divorce from your ex you may feel that you are also divorcing from his/her side of the family as well as feeling divorced from some friends, except in rare cases, where that does not happen entirely. Nonetheless, this can be incredibly painful and even traumatic to have all your usual network of support, your social life completely changed / eradicated, therefore, realistically you are faced with more losses in addition to your ex.
Furthermore, if you have children you may now have to share child’s custody or enter a legal battle with your ex, which can be expensive, time consuming and extremely distressing and devastating.
These losses you feel from your divorce can be overwhelming but also convey new opportunities to rebuild your life in a healthy and meaningful way. How to do that? How one rebuilds a life after so much pain and loss?
When it comes to emotional suffering, it is best to always recognise your pain – start by acknowledging your suffering. We are very good at avoiding uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings, when we don’t like them we can find the most unhealthy ways to just run away from what we are really feeling.
However, when we do that, we are running away from ourselves, we are neglecting our emotional needs, in turn, the more we try to ignore these feelings, the more predominant they become and influence our actions indirectly, which means, sometimes without you even realising it. Before we can act with a clear head it is important to recognise and understand without judgement and with kindness what is it that we are really feeling, especially in times of distress.
Divorces are extremely hard to endure and sometimes other than understanding its complexities it is vital to also accept that it has happened and that these are hard times, and as a result you are allowed to feel whatever there is to feel (sadness, anxiety, loneliness, rejection, disappointment, etc.) It does help to talk to a close friend, someone who will listen with empathy, sincere conversations with people we trust help us understand how we feel.
Also, you can consider creating an emotional journal if you feel that helps, writing about our emotions can help us keep them real and in check and has helped many, but everyone is different, you might give it a try and see if it helps you connect with your feelings.
Consider practicing Mindfulness ( like mindful walking, self-compassion mindfulness, etc.); you can try to watch videos of nature; pause sometime to listen to your favourite music, etc. – when practicing mindfulness, do it with the dedication it requires by being fully in the present moment – you can search for these practices or you can check my website for more tips (breakupcoach.org).
Importantly, give yourself the space and time to grieve the loss of your relationship, allow yourself moments to express your feelings, if you want to cry, don’t hesitate to do so in those moments – it’s perfectly okay. Practicing being fully present does help us accept our feelings including the unpleasant ones that are of equal importance.
Please note that, even though it is important to recognise our emotions, it is also vital to remember that our feelings aren’t fixed – they change, therefore, you don’t necessarily have to suffer from this divorce forever.
Awaken old interests and pursue new ones: Join a club you enjoy or start a new one; some rediscover pleasure in cooking as it can relax as well as provide a sense of accomplishment; whatever you choose to focus your energy on, do it with dedication and allow yourself these little enjoyments that can make a massive difference on your road to recovery from your divorce.
Actually, this is the perfect moment to reinvent yourself and find new pleasures in your life – You totally deserve it!
Divorcing Couples with Children
The divorce causes such anguish that it is easy to be fully engulfed in it… Yet, as important as it is to recognise your own pain, it is also greatly important to acknowledge your child’s pain as they too are suffering in the midst of a divorce.
Exactly how children are affected by the divorce is dependent on how parents manage conflict pre and post separation and overall how they interact with each other: are they respectful or they often criticise / belittle each other; are parents arranging to have difficult adult conversations at times where they can do so away from their children or are children present in those arguments, because if so, you may be unknowingly contributing to your child feeling part of the problem and as such they may feel responsible for these conflicts.
For couples who argue frequently, recent research suggests that divorce can offer an immediate relief for all involved including the children.
Nevertheless, regardless of the particularities of relationships or specific divorces’ set of circumstances, children are better off not carrying any blame/responsibility for what is going on in their parents’ marriage/divorce, and the way to do this is to avoid including them in the hurdles of your divorce proceedings nor including them on your differences with your ex-partner, which his also the child’s other parent.
Sit down with your child / children (preferably both parents) and be honest about the current family situation, that you are going to live separately but you are still a family and there’s still much love between all.
It is not about lying to your child or trying to pretend everything is great when it isn’t, it is about how you share with your child these difficulties that can make a difference between them feeling part of the problem (feeling that somehow they caused this – ‘Blame’) or part of the solution (giving them the ability to adapt to a different set of circumstances that don’t necessarily have to be worse for them but just different – ‘Hope’) Blame Vs Hope.
It is all about children feeling wanted and loved as always, passing on the security that their parents, even though currently residing in separate dwellings, they are still a family – a unit – and the child can still count on them whenever needed. Make sure you are there for your children, that’s all you can do and that’s what they most need.
You are going through a tremendous amount of pressure right now, please don’t feel that you have to carry this all by yourself – look for a trusted friend or family member to share your concerns, look after yourself with kindness, so you can look after your child’s psychological well-being too by acknowledging their feelings and providing them with the same patience, love and compassion you are practising for yourself.
Material Separation / Financial Worry
Not only are you going through the emotional turmoil that is the separation from a loved one and all the social ramifications with it, you also see yourself parting ways from some of the comforts you had that may not belong to you anymore. In a divorce process you will inevitably have to share assets according to your marriage agreement, therefore some of the physical possessions you were used to may no longer be yours and that again represents another loss.
The loss of material possessions (house, cars, businesses, etc.) may not be as serious or as severe as the loss of someone’s love, nonetheless, it represents an added worry to your financial stability in an already perplexed and hurtful situation.
It is important that you know exactly where you stand , so it is imperative that you have your finances in order or at least have an idea of what to expect of your financial situation.
As difficult as this is, with so much going on during a divorce, it is essential that you, together with your solicitor or lawyer discuss all your queries and hopefully reach a fair and realistic settlement.
Having a better understanding of your finances will allow you to plan your future realistically and confidently, consequently lowering the level of anxiety in this end.
Don’t forget to be your own friend in this moment of suffering and offer yourself the same patience, understanding and compassion you would to a close friend.
This article provides a very brief picture of the trauma divorce can cause, pointing out some of its painful ramifications, as understanding our own suffering is the first step towards recovering from any ordeal. knowing where we are gives us a starting point and a better chance to draw a route of where to go.
For more helpful insights you can check my other article about – Dealing with a Breakup.
If you feel you need extra help in these difficult times, maybe consider consulting with a professional therapist, it is reasonable to consider all your options, especially when it comes to looking after your well-being.
You can do this – Keep Strong!
Wishing you a kind recovery.