February 2, 2015
By Robyn D. Weisman, Esq., founder and director Divorce Mediation & Family Services of New York
Going through a divorce or separation has very similar emotional characteristics and feelings as the stages you go through in any grief stricken situation. Realizing this and also realizing that you are very much alive and will come out of this alive and kicking can help you along this process.
Although I am an attorney who has also studied in depth the psychological process, I am not a mental health professional. However, in my studies and experiences I have seen a pattern of emotions that do play a role in those going through a divorce or separation.
Emotion 1. Shock or Denial
Many people experience this before they go through the initial step of seeing an attorney or mediator. This is especially true when a client had not seen the divorce coming. This may delay the spouse from even meeting with legal counsel or even a mental health professional. Instead of taking pro-action, the spouse will sit back and wait, possibly even compromising their legal situation. I always recommend trying to mend the marriage at this point, however, also start preparing in case the attempt fails and divorce becomes the outcome. No one wants to be blind-sided.
Emotion 2. Sadness and possibly depression
A feeling of failure and loss is very common when a spouse does realize that an end may be in sight. You may feel overwhelmed and not much like getting out of bed and moving on. Trust in yourself and know that everyone goes through this in one form or another and know that it will get better. Change is scary but also in many cases it is for the better. Divorce or separation is not failure. There are all types of reasons people go through a divorce or separation, and it is only a means to a new future. Allow yourself to be sad and don’t make rash decisions. Gather information at this point but hold off on making any quick decisions.
Emotion 3. Anger (which often alternates with Sadness)
Everybody reacts differently but generally will act with some form of sadness or anger. Blame becomes evident, either blaming everything on the other spouse, lawyer or mediator. Listening to others gives you ammunition. Try to stay away from listening to “the Greek chorus”. People like to fuel fires, but realize every relationship and breakup is different and unique to that couple or family. Avoid also doing “whatever it takes” to simply “get out’ or to make the other spouse “suffer”.
This emotion usually does not last that long so make sure no major decisions are made in this state.
Don’t let your anger govern the process and end up in a long, costly divorce process. It will only make things worse and the anger multiply.
Emotion 4. Seeing the Light.
This is the time when a client becomes an advocate for his or her own future. Now is the time to make goals and become engaged in the process of creating your future. Reasonable decisions are at the forefront. Depression has subsided, anger is limited and now instead of emotions controlling, you are in control of your own decisions. Agreements are easier reached because a bigger picture can now be seen and realized. A couple can now either look at a possible reconciliation or possibly a separation to see if a reconciliation is possible in the future. In the alternative, a couple can now see a future can happen without the other spouse and now is the time to develop a plan for the couple and family.
Emotion 5. Final acceptance.
Toward the end of the process or when the divorce is close to finalization, clients now know what the future will look like. Again there may be sadness at this point but there may also be relief. Fear has really taken a back seat and a calming has started to set in. Some people begin to feel renewed and happy and hopeful about their future.
By the time the couple has reached this stage, a new future is now rising over the horizon and now is the time to look forward toward a new and different life full of potential.
Divorce or Separation is a journey no one wants or even imagines, so one rarely plans for it, but if you find yourself on that road, knowledge that it does get better is a great help and know that we are here for you.
Long Island’s Divorce Mediation & Family Services, is your Long Island divorce source.
68 South Service Road, Suite 100, Melville, New York 11747 631-465-2140 or 1-877- WE MEDIATE
Disclaimer: The information obtained at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.