When you embark on a divorce, you hope it will make you and your soon-to-be ex happier in the long run. Yet the journey to get there won’t be straightforward, and you might wonder if you will ever get there at all, especially if your spouse starts acting strangely.
Some experts consider there to be five stages in the emotional journey of a divorce:
Sometimes a major event, such as divorce can be too much to take on. Therefore a person might subconsciously tell themselves it’s not true. This is not naivety, it’s just their mind working to protect them.
Once someone has accepted the divorce is real, their emotions may break loose in the form of anger. Your spouse is likely to target a lot of it at you, and while it won’t be pleasant to have someone you once loved become so nasty toward you, you can take solace in the fact that they probably do not mean it, rather, it’s just a phase.
If your spouse suggests they could change and says you should give them another chance, they are probably in the bargaining stage. It’s not that they’re stupid and can’t understand that there is no chance of that ever happening. It’s just a slight regression on the road to acceptance. You’re a lot to lose after all.
This can last a considerable time. Sometimes it may even last long after the divorce is done. Support from friends and family and even a therapist can be crucial to help move through this stage.
Whether this comes during the divorce process or some time afterward, it can provide great relief for the individual and those around them. It’s important to remember that you cannot rush someone to accept the divorce, so you may want to hold back your helpful ideas about moving forward with their life until they are ready to hear them.
You and your spouse may well pass through these stages at different times and rates. But, if you understand them for what they are, inevitable steps along the road to improvement, you can try not to attach so much weight to how your spouse is acting.
Knowing about these stages can also help you time things in your divorce. For instance, if you notice your spouse is in the anger stage, you might delay raising some of the issues you need to sort out until they reach the bargaining stage rather than try now and incur their wrath every time you talk.
There’s a lot to learn when divorcing. Getting help to take care of the legal side can increase the amount of time you have left to focus on the emotional side.