A Healthy Divorce - Managing Your Emotions And Moving On During A Separation

Edrie Pfeiffer
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Edrie Pfeiffer, Bankruptcy & Divorce Attorney

This is a freelance article from Gemma Herbert

If you’ve come to Hampton Roads Legal Services for help with your divorce, chances are that you’re going through a pretty rough time, psychologically and emotionally speaking [1]. We can guide you through the practicalities of your divorce with sensitivity and expertise, gaining the best outcome for all parties involved. However, even with this stress taken out of the equation, you’re sadly still likely to suffer something of an emotional rollercoaster [2] as your divorce proceeds. Here are a few tips which may help you through this.

Accept It

Denial may seem like an emotionally protective measure, but in the long term it simply prolongs the pain of a divorce. Denial is a very common reaction to divorce proceedings, particularly (for some reason) in men. Even as papers are signed, some partners still seem to believe that this is merely a ‘blip’, and their partner will rush back into their arms if only they can find the right formula. In cases where substance abuse has been an issue [3], the affected partner may clean up their act significantly during a divorce in the hope that their changed nature will make a winning impression upon their former spouse. This is no bad thing - understanding the reasons behind a divorce and accepting responsibility for your past is a very positive step. However, if you ‘change’ purely out of a desire to return to the past, then you are in a state of denial [4]. Without accepting that your marriage is over, you will never be able to move on from the pain you are currently feeling.

Develop Emotional Management Strategies

The emotional impact of a divorce can be overwhelming [5]. You’re likely to experience anger, depression, anxiety, horror, shock, fear, and a good deal of grief. All of this is completely natural. However, this does not make it any more pleasant. The emotional maelstrom of a divorce can make it very hard not only to lead a fulfilling existence, but can also be a considerable handicap at a time when you need to be rationally working out how to proceed with your life. If you’re finding the emotional strain of a divorce too much to handle - if you’re acting out of character or making things difficult for yourself and/or others - then it may be advisable to seek some help with emotional management. There are plenty of therapists and advice-sites out there [6] which can enable you to express your grief and loss in a productive manner, while keeping enough rationality about you to ensure that your divorce has the best outcome it can in the circumstances.

Communicate

Sure, you may want to scream and hurl things at your former partner. But doing this is not the way to get a good divorce. Behaving in an acrimonious manner towards one another will not only ramp up the stress of a divorce, but also makes things very difficult for friends, family, and (in particular) any children you may have. Try to have clear, calm conversations without letting your shared emotional history cloud either your judgment or your actions. Be realistic, and be reasonable [7] - don’t deliberately set out to provoke or wound your former partner, no matter how satisfying this may seem. Doing so runs the risk of setting in motion a chain reaction which will result in a very nasty divorce indeed. Nobody wants that. It is perfectly possible to have a reasonable and even friendly divorce - in fact, in all honesty, if you can remain civil and communicative with your former spouse then they’re more likely to co-operate with you and your wishes. So it’s an advisable strategy on a practical as well as an emotional level! 

Foster Support

Having a loving support network around during this time can be immensely helpful. Divorce isn’t just an emotional pain - it can also be very scary. Your life feels as though it’s about to change beyond recognition. If you have a strong, secure, loving support network around you to help you through that transition, it immediately reduces the fear factor considerably. So don’t be afraid to let your loved ones know that you need them!

Ready to move forward with your divorce?  Give us a call today at (757) 320-2010.  

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[1] Gloria M Gay, “The Nature of the Psychological Impact of Divorce upon the Individual”, Journal of Divorce, 1978

[2] Tom Merrill, Geoff Hamilton, “The Stages of Divorce”, Gibson, Grace and Merrill

[3] Marni Low, “Substance Abuse and the Impact on the Family System”, Rehabs.com, May 2015

[4] Karen Stewart, “Divorcing? Move Out of Denial and Into Reality”, Huffington Post, Jun 2103

[5] Dr Phil, “Emotions to Expect when Going Through Divorce”

[6] Margarita Tartakovsky, “How to Manage Emotions More Effectively”, PsychCentral

[7] Dick Price, “Tips for Better Communication During a Divorce”, Mediate.com, Jan 2013

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