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Dealing with the Emotional Stages of Divorce

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Managing Emotions During a Divorce

Going through a divorce is mentally and emotionally taxing — and when emotions are high and your stress levels are elevated, it can take a toll on your physical well-being too. The divorce is process is not the same for everyone, however, many will experience these six emotional stages of divorce. Knowing how to cope with your emotions at each stage can help you stay focused on your life outside of your divorce. Separating from your spouse can easily put a strain in other areas of your life, such as other family relationships, work, and your children.

Read on to learn more about each emotional stage and how to overcome the obstacles of each.

1. Denial

No matter how stable or complicated your relationship with your spouse has been over the years, hearing the words, “I want a divorce” can catch you off guard. You may say to yourself, “this is not happening.” It’s confusing, as well as hard to accept. At the denial stage, you may be replaying situations that had happened between you and your spouse. You may also be worrying about what you can do to keep your marriage together. Denial is a defense mechanism to combat sadness and shock, but if denial persists, it will prevent you from moving on and keep you in an unhealthy mental state. Here are some signs of being in denial:

  • Refusing to acknowledge that you are splitting up.
  • Avoiding talking about the issue and your feelings.
  • Blaming others.

2. Anger

Anger is a very common feeling among divorcing people. Feeling wronged or hurt can send you into a tailspin of frustration and resentment. Anger can also be used as a means to punish your former spouse or as a way to hold onto the marriage. Holding on to anger is emotionally and physically unhealthy. Here are some tips to keep anger at bay when going through a divorce:

  • Keep a journal and write out your thoughts and feelings.
  • Find a support system through friends or a professional therapist.
  • Work on personal growth and understand your anger triggers.

When it comes to feelings of anger, you may want to “pick your battles.” While the little things your ex does may irritate and trigger you, let go of the “small stuff” and address the most critical issues, such as children, calmly.

3. Conflicting Emotions

You may be on an emotional rollercoaster at this stage, and that’s not uncommon. One minute you may feel relieved, and one minute you may feel lost and out of control. You may also try to make sense of how your marriage got to the point of divorce. Overthinking the events that lead up to your divorce can make you feel emotionally conflicted. When you are having difficulty making sense of your divorce and are feeling overwhelmed, here are some things you can do:

  • Take deep breaths and focus on your breathing.
  • Find ways to calm your nerves (try exercising, light yoga, or meditation techniques).
  • Stay present and live in the moment. Sometimes thinking about the future too much can bring on feelings of anxiousness.

4. Bargaining

When you are hopeful that your marriage will get back on track, you may do anything to get your ex to come back, such as making changes or acting differently. However, at this stage, it’s essential to understand that you cannot control or change how another person feels. When in the bargaining stage, many people may plead with their ex-spouse and say things like:

  • “I’ll do anything if you just come back.”
  • “Why are you letting this happen?”
  • “I’ll take back everything I’ve done and said if you come back.”

Bargaining can leave you with feelings of guilt and frustration, and that often leads to the next stage — depression.

5. Depression

Divorce can be a traumatic experience and can trigger depression in some people. Depression can bring about feelings of sadness, guilt, and worthlessness. It’s important to recognize the symptoms of depression. Speak to your doctor about any unusual emotional symptoms you are experiencing so you can get help and move forward. Some common warning signs of depression are:

  • Feeling anxious.
  • Feeling frustrated and irritable.
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
  • Eating more or less than usual, lack of appetite.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Not participating in activities that you once used to enjoy.

6. Acceptance

Acceptance happens when negative emotions have subsided, and you have experienced personal growth. While going through the stages above, it may feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The acceptance stage doesn’t happen immediately, but, there is life after divorce, and accepting the reality of divorce can make it easier to move on with your life.

Need Help with a Florida Divorce? We are Here For You.

Deciding to file for divorce is not easy. Divorce can be one of the most challenging situations to go through, and the legal process of a divorce can be a daunting experience without a stable support system. Feeling frustrated when going through a divorce is not uncommon, but know that you aren’t alone, and there is help. Our Jacksonville family law attorneys are here to guide you through the divorce process so you can have peace of mind knowing that your children's best interests are being met, and you are receiving an effective solution to your divorce situation.

Contact Owenby Law, P.A. today at (904) 770-3141 to schedule a free initial consultation with our team.