Believe it or not, you actually start the legal process of divorce with your emotions. Despite the fact that it is a legal process, there is nothing rational about divorce; it is full of emotion.
When the notion of separation forms in one partner’s mind, the divorce process has already started. The movement to divorce from feelings of disillusionment or despair, emotional withdrawal, or abandoning your marriage emotionally or physically is a process that can happen unconsciously. It creeps up on you, or pounces, catching you seemingly unaware.
Some of our most powerful emotions dominate at this stage: anger, fear, hurt, and pride. Recognizing these feelings in yourself and/or your spouse is essential at the beginning of this decision making process.
Reconciling what you feel with what you want from the divorce takes years for some people, but if you can separate out your feelings from what you know to be fair, you are on the road to a more successful divorce and a faster route toward a brighter future.
How Could This Be Happening To Our Family?
It is tempting to fight against the emerging realization that your marriage is over. You ignore what’s happening between you. You insist that things go back to the way they were, or the way they “should” be. You protest. You threaten. You sulk. You cajole, criticize, pressure, browbeat, beg. You read books and magazines on the subject. You talk to family and friends. You go to counseling. You try this or that, alone or together. You keep wishing and thinking “If only.” The divorce may feel unreal at this stage. How could this be happening?... you ask yourself over and over. Where did he, she, we, or I go wrong? The shock, shame and the rage you feel all make the idea of divorce hard to accept.
We all have periods in relationships that are less satisfying than others. The critical juncture isn’t just feeling unhappy or out of sync with each other. It occurs when sacrifice stops happening reciprocally, so that one person is doing far more of the giving and the compromising than the other person. Unhappiness reaches a critical point when a sense of hopelessness sets in, and one or both partners are not motivated to work at it. People who begin drifting toward divorce because they are disillusioned are in for a rude awakening, because divorce is an infinitely greater disillusionment.
Although some people approach divorce with obvious and uncomplicated relief, most people are more uncertain, moving alternately toward and away from divorce. This is a natural process. Your feelings are understandably ambivalent. Remember this is just the beginning of a long period of adjustment. Be good to yourself and let yourself express emotions. You may feel more safe is you are prepared. For all sorts of free information about divorce be sure to visit the Peace Talks resource center at http://peace-talks.com/preparefordivorce/.
Excerpted from Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce.
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