Handling Separation and Divorce Gracefully

No one gets married thinking about separating from their partner a few years later.  When eventually things don’t work out, you hurt. It’s painful reliving the memories. Wondering what you could have done to change the outcome. Most couples will undergo marriage counselling and try to salvage what they can of the relationship. In some cases the spouses will reconcile, but more often than not, once divorce has been brought up, it is just a matter of time before it becomes a reality for the spouses.

It doesn’t matter if you wanted the divorce or not, the fact is that it is going to happen. Which means that you need to handle it with compassion for yourself, your soon to be ex-spouse, any children, and the extended family members. The last thing you want to do is behave in a manner that will haunt you for years after the divorce incident is over. Here are some ways in which you can behave gracefully and exit the relationship with your dignity in tact, and on even terms with your ex spouse and all involved.

The Five Stages

It didn’t work out the way you expected it to. There will be disappointment, stress, anxiety, hurt feeling and a lot of emotional garbage that comes out. These are divided into five stages or phases by researchers. There will be phases of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These are the five stages of grief that most people will experience when their marriage ends. The idea is to work through the first four phases quickly and reach the fifth phase. Let’s tackle each phase.

Denial – It’s difficult to admit something to the world that you refuse to acknowledge. During this phase it is important to reach out to friends and family and speak with them about what is going on in your life. The more you need to explain what is happening, the more likely you are to end your phase of denial. In addition you will have reached out to your support group and they will be with you in your time of need.

Anger – There is a desire to lash out and hurt the significant other as much as you are hurting within.  To be vindictive and do harm to them, both emotionally with your words, and physically with your deeds. Letting this anger out is important, but do it in a controlled environment where you are not harming anyone else. Physical activity is important at this time to let off steam. Pick up kick boxing, jogging or any other activity that you can channel all your anger into.

Bargaining – When you feel that the situation is spiralling out of your control, you will be tempted to bargain with your ex- spouse to be, to return to the way things were before the talk of divorce came about. This is a place where you can do a lot of damage to your self esteem. Get professional help to deal with your feelings. Talking to a counsellor can help place the situation in context for you. While it may seem that things are simply going from bad to worse, they are simply transitioning into a new normal for you.

Depression – The requirement for a support group and a good psychologist is vital at this phase. Here you will struggle to like anything in the new life that you are building, as you constantly compare it to the old and find it lacking. It is important at this phase to get out and meet up with supportive friends and family members. Keeping a journal and writing about your feelings also helps clear the negativity that is felt.

Acceptance – Gradually you will reach the phase where you accept the inevitable. Now you are truly ready to move on with your life. You can look back at the old marriage without feeling resentful or hurt. The idea now is to live a good and fulfilling life ahead, for which you are happy to make plans about. These are more aligned with your new reality and make you feel worthwhile again.

Cooperation and Communication When it Comes To Handling Children

Once you have reached the stage of acceptance, you are ready to sit down and speak with your soon to be ex- spouse to make plans for common assets. Try to ensure that emotions don’t run high, and old arguments are not rehashed. The two of you can also come up with a plan to handle the children, should there be any. In most cases the children are the worst victims of a divorce and so, if the parents can be civil with each other, it helps the transition phase for them. While you and your old partner may not be a part of each other’s daily lives, the children will connect you forever. Making it easier to share the responsibilities of handling the children, by communicating expectations and desires, is a good way to move ahead.

It is better for the children to out of a high conflict marriage environment, than to live in one where the parents are never at peace. Between two to four years, the children adapt to their new reality and  begin to flourish again. All it needs is some tender, loving care from the parent that they are living with, and some encouragement from the parent who is not with them on a daily basis anymore.

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