Whatever the cause, whether infidelity, substance abuse, or domestic violence, it is not easy to go through a divorce, considering that you may have spent some quality time with your better half. Sometimes the breakup can be in the form of collaborative divorce, but it may be full of chaos in some other instances. That is why it is essential to understand the different phases of divorce, as discussed in this piece, to ensure you go through the process with less stress.
The 5 Phases
Being the first phase of divorce, denial means that one or both parties involved in the divorce have not come to terms with the reality of what is happening. This mostly happens in cases where the separation is not a mutual understanding. In such a case, the spouse who is leaving may feel confused and guilty. In contrast, the one left behind may try to rationalize the situation by assuming their partner is going through an inevitable personal turmoil.
This mostly happens to the spouse who is left behind because they feel they were betrayed, lied to, cheated on, or even physically abused by someone they laid their trust in. This is where the leaver (the one who left) is painted as the bad person in the whole divorce story. If you are the one left behind, you might be tempted to overeat, drink a lot, complain too much, and even binge-watch TV. All this is necessary to help you push through the grieving stage of divorce. Remember not to show anger to the kids because they are innocent.
At this stage, you start asking yourself what the outcome would have been if you had done things differently – you try to make some meaning out of the entire divorce process. During the bargaining phase, you may even try to salvage the broken marriage through communicating with your ex-husband or ex-wife. As a leavee, you may promise to change anything you think may have contributed to the breakup from your side. For instance, promising not to cheat on your spouse again. As a leaver, such a promise can prompt you to change your mind and rekindle your relationship. However, there is no guarantee that this will work, but it can create a chance for you to build up your marriage once more.
Bargaining is also a great time to reach out to your family and friends. You can explain what you think you can do better to bring back your partner or get their thoughts about you going back to your ex.
This is a dangerous divorce phase, which many people have challenges crossing. Depression typically comes after the bargaining attempts have failed, and it mostly happens to the leavee. You may feel guilty about hurting the innocent kids and those around you. Other symptoms of divorce depression include sleeping and eating difficulties, anxiety, fatigue, and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. It is recommendable to talk to a mental health counselor if you can’t seem to shake off depression on your own.
This is where you accept that you cannot reverse the divorce and have to go on with your life. Such closure is essential because you gain your life back and understand that you will be okay. This is the divorce phase you should be looking forward to, especially after bargaining. However, acceptance is not an instant thing – it comes in bits and builds up with time.
Divorce is a painful experience, whether you think you are wrong or right. Understanding the stages of divorce is essential. Often, divorce is irrevocable, which is why you should work hard to get to the last phase – acceptance.