No matter which spouse has decided to seek a divorce and regardless of what caused the breakdown of the marriage, both spouses will typically enter a phase of emotional adjustment to the reality that the relationship is really over. Psychologists who have studied the divorce process have concluded that going through the process of terminating your marriage is very much like the process of losing someone dear to us. Grief is the emotional suffering we feel after a loss of some kind. While the grief that preceeds or accompanies such a loss can seem unbearable, it is actually a healing process. Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has named five stages of grief people go through following a serious loss. Sometimes people get stuck in one of the first four stages. Their lives can be painful until they move to the fifth stage – acceptance.
Five Stages Of Grief
1. Denial. At first, we tend to deny that the marriage is really ending. You may be thinking that a divorce won’t really be necessary if you just give it a little more time since the marital problems really aren’t all that bad. This stage may last a few moments, or longer.
2. Anger. The grieving person may then be furious at the person who inflicted the hurt, or at the world, for letting it happen. You may be angry with yourself for letting the event take place, even if, realistically, nothing could have stopped it.
3. Bargaining. Now the grieving person may make bargains with God or even their spouse that they’ll do things differently to make the divorce stop.
4. Depression. The person feels numb, although anger and sadness may remain underneath.
5. Acceptance. This is when the anger, sadness and mourning have tapered off. The person simply accepts the reality of the loss.
People facing divorce may go through these stages in any order. Sometimes you might even repeat a stage. That is normal. If you are having difficulty progressing, you may need professional counseling assistance in helping through your emotions. There is no shame in that. Keep in mind that the legal system is equipped to deal only with legal aspects of divorce and provides no assistance with emotional issues. If either or both spouses have emotions that are not under control, the divorce process can take longer than it would otherwise, cost more in fees that it would otherwise, and be more stressful over all.