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What Are the Stages of Divorce and How do you Cope with them?

What Are the Stages of Divorce and How do you Cope with them?

Updated on Jun 16, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

7 Stages of Divorce – Denial, Shock and More

So, you want to know about the stages of divorce?

Then there are chances that you are nearing a tragic end to your marriage. I’m so sorry that you have to experience this. But know that you’ll undergo different phases before the actual divorce.

However, if you get divorced, you may get mentally traumatized during the separation.

With awareness, you can prevent the abrupt end of a beautiful relationship or save yourself from the loop of depression and anxiety.

Whether you want to stop yourself on the track of divorce or work on yourself through the experience, this think-piece will help you familiarize yourself with everything and support you.

So, let’s approach a healthy life together here…

Seven Stages of Divorce Infographic

Seven Stages of Divorce – Denial, Shock and more
Seven Stages of Divorce – Denial, Shock and more

What are the Stages of Divorce?

Getting divorced certainly brings along a lot of emotional baggage. But do you think it is the result of a one-day decision? No, a couple undergoes multiple phases in their married life before they take this devastating step and move on with their individual lives.

As an outsider, it’s easy to judge people and comment on their married lives. But, it’s only the couple who experiences the pain. So, if you’re curious about this gruesome experience, let’s know about it here…

Stage 1: The blame-game

Partners fail to accept their mistakes and blame each other for all the setbacks in the marriage. This is when the idea of divorce buds into one or both the partner’s minds.

This is square 1 of your divorce when you and your partner stop understanding each other and start the blame game. It may begin in a few months for some couples, while others may take years to play the blame game before they file for a divorce.

You understand that things aren’t moving in the right direction in your marriage. Your partner doesn’t fulfill your needs or respond to you like they always did.

Well, you may reason out that passion fades with time, so it is a natural process. Sure, that happens and passion converts into spiritual love. But if there’s no sign of such deep love in this situation, your relationship is at the edge.

Soon, you suppress your feelings because you assume your partner won’t understand you. Ultimately, you stop sharing things with each other.

You realize both of you demand different things from life. You start to imagine how your individual life can be without your partner. Gradually, depression kicks in.

When you see other couples in society, you realize you don’t share a similar bond as spouses. It pinches your heart, and you blame your partner for this.

How to cope through this stage?

To save your relationship at this phase, try to look at the situation rationally. Understand that your partner is a human too, so they aren’t flawless. Like you, they can also commit mistakes.

Additionally, as partners, know that nobody is inferior or superior, as you are a team. So, if you commit a mistake, accept it and look for solutions. Don’t waste energy pointing fingers at one another’s past mistakes.

Focus on solutions and your partner will naturally support you.

Stage 2: Anger reaches its limit

Partners fail to comprehend the disputes every day. So, they finally discuss the idea of divorce and take action.

Due to the constant disagreements and disputes, you always imagined how individual life might be better in the previous phase. However, if you discuss it with your spouse or your friends, it means the situation crossed your boundaries.

Your anger reached a limit and you actually want to turn your idea into reality. You are ready to act on your idea, so you can easily bring this topic up with others.

When you express your feelings for divorce to your spouse, you’ll certainly hear, “I did not see this coming.”

For the first time, your partner learns that you were thinking about separation for a long while. Moreover, they now realize that their marriage is in trouble.

It shocks your spouse and they face difficulties accepting it. Their mental peace is absolutely destroyed as the panic kicks in.

Anger, resentment, and denial are some common feelings you’ll notice in this phase.

If you have children together, it’ll definitely add to the drama and make the entire process more difficult. Parents’ separation may shatter a child and ruin their future, so think about them before taking the next step.

How to cope through this stage?

Go for couple counseling to sort out your problems and fix your marriage once again. Build clear boundaries, discuss your problems with your partner, and work towards a renewed commitment phase.

When couples do this honestly, some of them can save their marriages because the partners change themselves for the better.

However, couples counseling doesn’t promise to stop the divorce. Some couples separate even after counseling because they are not ready to change themselves for others.

Some people also start imagining their life after divorce. Marriages ask for many compromises, and you must be ready to accept them during the counseling.

Stage 3: Your world collapses

You observe drastic changes in your everyday life. You need a lot of energy and effort even to finish your daily chores because your mind feels numb from the shock of the separation.

Nobody likes to experience a failed marriage as it causes you trauma. You need a hell lot of time to heal and forget your partner. The entire process causes you anxiety.

You cannot sleep well, your appetite changes, and you experience a lot of emotional trauma because of anxiety which makes the process far more difficult.

Along with anxiety, depression kicks in. You spend most of your time lying in bed instead of being productive. You consume less food and it affects your health. Though your health declines, you’re still more concerned about the separation.

You notice that you cannot pay attention to others or your work. You get angry about very petty things and break down into a stream of tears. Sometimes it might even be due to unreasonable things because the mind is unstable.

Unless you heal from the separation, you continuously experience emotional oscillations. You’ll be angry, numb, and anxious from time to time.

You fail to understand how a daily-life incident will affect you and the impacts are beyond your control. It may take you several months or years to heal from this stage.

Since both partners were equally involved in the marriage, both suffer but the intensity may differ.

If your partner asked for a divorce, they feel guilty and blame themselves for ending a beautiful relationship. Whereas you feel hurt, helpless, angry, and pitiful of being forced for divorce.

How to cope through this stage?

To cope through this phase, accept the reality that your marriage ended. It’ll be a long, emotional process, but make peace with the reality to heal you soon.

Stage 4: Experiencing mixed emotions

You experience sudden changes in emotions because you have not healed yet so your emotions become pretty unpredictable during this phase.

After the divorce, things become unpredictable due to the overwhelming emotions crashing all at once.

At one point, you enjoy your free life. At another, you miss your former partner. Next, you think about them and the memories of their negative habits enrage you. So, within a few seconds, you change from an upbeat mood to an angry mental state.

In this phase, you recollect your marriage and analyze what went wrong. You ponder on your mistakes, the scopes of compromises on both sides, and who is actually responsible for the failed marriage.

You cherish the best moments with your ex-partner and mourn because you have nothing now.

You soon get a productive insight into where you went wrong and learn a valuable lesson.

Moreover, you’ll also feel lonely because you won’t get to see your partner again. It will feel the same as losing them to death.

Different people deal with loneliness differently. Some isolate themselves and stop socializing entirely. Others visit all the places they went with their ex-spouse to feel nostalgic. So, you’ll do either of them.

Your self-esteem will take a major setback in this phase. You feel you are absolutely worthless and so shut yourself in your room all day.

Alternatively, you may also feel relief from toxicity. You feel free from the clutches of marriage and want to focus on yourself.

How to cope through this stage?

You need a lot of self-love and acceptance to cope with this phase. Firstly, overcome the emotional see-saw.

If you don’t know how to deal with it, talk to your most trusted friends and family members about whatever you feel and ask them to listen to you.

Alternatively, if you don’t feel comfortable talking with others, write a journal and vent your feelings. Unless you bring out the emotional puzzle within you and attempt to solve it, you’ll not feel liberated and take longer to heal.

Stage 5: You change your identity

You face challenges changing your identity from a married to a single person again and struggle to get accepted by society.

Before marriage, you were two individuals with separate identities. When you got married, you co-created one identity for you both.

After the separation, you need a different identity for yourself to fit in the world. It is a complete mess as you don’t know how to make society accept you.

Your self-perception undergoes a significant shift at this time. You may try on various identities throughout this period before you settle for a comfortable one.

You become highly anxious about how others perceive you, much as you did during your early adolescence. You might invest in new clothing or an automobile.

You face the same struggles as a teenager and start a hunt for a partner again. You find it hard to go on dates or make sexual advances with someone.

However, a few people may also engage in sexual activities to explore sexuality beyond the horizon of marriage. Hence, this phase is for self-exploration.

The most challenging part of this phase is to accept your identity from ‘married’ to ‘single.’ Accepting this psychologically is quite stressful.

How to cope through this phase?

Meditate to keep your mind calm. Instead of sex, indulge yourself in creative activities that can make your mind and soul happy. Join hobby classes, read a book, build a business, join an NGO, or do things that make you happy and content.

Stage 6: Discover yourself

You finally accept your divorce in this phase and are ready to live a new life for yourself.

By the time you enter this phase, you accept the truth of your divorce and feel relieved. There’s a different strength and desire in you to accomplish things.

You feel satisfied with your lifestyle because you’ve moved on from your past. The wounds no longer affect you because they healed. Now you won’t hurt even if you touch them. You have a clear idea about what you need in your life.

Even though the divorce resulted in some painful and unpleasant emotions, they eventually lead to the resolution of the loss, allowing you to re-establish an intimate connection if they so wish.

Happiness and contentment begin to take precedence over anxiety and wrath. Divorce allows you to follow your own interests while you set your former partner free for a better life.

How to cope through this stage?

Focus on your next steps in life. Think deeply about whether you want to try dating or focus on yourself completely. Make sure you think through every step and approach life most safely. Even if you encounter a setback, remember this phase and motivate yourself to break through difficulties.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Marriages are much more difficult to handle than any relationship. It requires two people’s efforts to maintain a healthy marriage. Even if one fails to keep their side of the bargain, the marriage fails.

While you experience the different stages, focus on coping mechanisms to save your marriage. However, if nothing works out, know that everything will get better with time.

Further, if you face extreme trouble dealing with the separation and even loved ones can’t help, speak to a therapist.

Don’t waste the life ahead of you. Take every necessary step to move on under any circumstances. Expert help will always help you deal with the problems better than you can imagine.