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Divorce and Mental Health: How to Stay Strong During This Emotional Time


In this era, many marriages don’t always survive the test of time. In the US, the reported number of divorcees stands at 746,971. This is equivalent to 2.7 per 1000 population. 

In many divorce cases, there are two sides: the initiator, who asks for a divorce, and the receiver, who is asked for a divorce. In these cases, unexpected events can lead to increased emotional times. In many other cases, the parties come to a mutual agreement that their marriage should come to an end. Even in these more civil cases, emotions can get high, and feelings will get hurt.

Divorce is generally rated to be one of the topmost emotionally draining, stressful, and unsettling events in life. If you choose to make this decision, be ready to take up all the emotional toll that comes with it. Knowing all these necessary details will not obliterate the negative feelings, but it will help you deal with them once they come up.

Emotional Phases of Grief in Divorce

1. Denial

It cannot be easy to accept that your marriage is about to end. Even so, denial will affect you if you didn’t initiate the divorce. People may refuse to believe that their spouse wants to leave them.  Some use this stage as a coping mechanism to reconcile with their spouse. 

In this stage, you may willfully refuse to accept that your spouse has asked for a divorce. It is often with the benefit of hindsight that we realize how difficult this stage is for us. Unfortunately, after denying the reality of divorce, you may begin to lash out against your ex-partner and even those close to you. 

This brings us to the second stage:

2. Anger

This stage can be particularly difficult for the partner who receives the divorce. You may want to place all of the blame on your partner, and you might start taking it out on the people closest to you. 

It might be surprising to hear this, but anger is okay. As long as you don’t get abusive and express your anger healthily, anger is an acceptable way to process your emotions. This stage can be consuming as it is during this phase that tough and hostile decisions are made. Be patient with yourself. 

You can encourage your spouse to take it easy on themselves as well. Just ensure that neither of you makes any decision based on the anger or emotional stress of ending your marriage. If possible, get professional help, or reach out to close friends or relatives to help you overcome this.

3. Bargaining

During this phase, the initiators are the ones who are greatly affected. The initiator mostly begins to ask themselves if the divorce has to happen. One may find themselves trying to change the course of events, but there’s nothing to worry about. It is very normal. 

Similarly, the receivers of the divorce may try to fight for the marriage to remain. They may offer to change their behavior and their actions. This may be resolved through mediation, but both parties need to examine what they truly want. Does the initiator trust that their partner can change? Is the receiver willing to compromise themselves to retain the marriage?

4. Depression

This divorce is going to be a difficult process. Marriage is not something that you enter into or exit lightly. After processing your divorce and trying everything to keep your marriage alive, it is not surprising for you to fall into a state of depression. 

It may seem like a dark cloud has formed over you, but as with anger, depression is okay. Going through a massive change in your life, especially an unexpected one can cause significant emotional turmoil. No one should expect you to be 100% happy right away.

It is during this step that you may want to seek personal counseling. However hard this process may be, it’s essential to evaluate and identify why the marriage didn’t succeed. Evaluation yields acceptance of the mistakes you made in marriage. It may not be easy, but it will help you heal and move on quickly. 

5. Acceptance 

In most cases, you have already accepted that your marriage has come to an end during this last phase. You may still experience negative emotions, but the best part of it is that the feelings no longer consume you. You’ll feel some sense of joy and reclaim your old self to build a new life at this stage.

These phases of divorce will happen to both parties. Accept that this is normal and allow yourself to go through each stage at your own pace. 

Additional Self Care Recovery Tips

1. Take a Break

You’re only human, and you may not be as productive as you were. Therefore, it is crucial to take a break and resume your regular duties once you have dealt with the heavy emotional toll that comes with the process. 

2. Talk About It

Staying alone during such times can be straining to your health and can also elevate your stress levels. During a divorce, you will most likely feel angry, exhausted, confused, and frustrated. 

These feelings get intense with time. Don’t be afraid to get outside help. 

Consider talking to a Philadelphia divorce lawyer who understands your needs and goals and one who will give you the relevant advice needed for this particular situation. Also, they can recommend a good support group where you can meet others in similar situations and talk it out.   

3. Don’t Use Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

This is easier said than done! When in the middle of a crisis, it’s easy for you to get whisked away to do things that will help you deal with pain and loneliness. Drugs, alcohol, and food are the primary but very destructive coping mechanisms that people use. Most people don’t realize that these unhealthy coping mechanisms may make the whole process harder.

 It will help if you choose healthier ways of dealing with these painful emotions. Make time to eat healthy foods, exercise, and relax your mind. Also, writing down a journal can help reduce the pain caused by your emotional struggles over time. A journal keeps your mind shift and keeps your mood in check.

4. Rediscover Yourself

Divorce signifies the end of a marriage, but it is also the beginning of a new chapter without a spouse. Use this time to try out new hobbies or a volunteer program. Make it a personal choice to enjoy life again and make new friends who positively impact your life. 

5. Don’t Rush Into a New Relationship

Divorce is one of the most emotionally grueling times of your life. No one should give you the pressure to start dating again. Your mental health will be significantly affected if you use this time to find a new partner. The feelings of loneliness, anger, stress, and isolation may give you the pressure to get into a new relationship. This is not the solution. 

Focus on yourself the best way you can and learn about who you are when you’re single. This process will help you rediscover your hobbies or other things you missed in your marriage. Once you rediscover yourself again, it becomes easier for you to bump into someone with whom you can start a new life. 

Life can be complicated, and divorce can be damaging to your mental health. Therefore, it’s essential to be honest with yourself during the healing process and take care of your mental health as much as possible. 



 About the Author

Veronica Baxter is a writer, blogger, and legal assistant located near Philadelphia.  She frequently works for Lee A. Schwartz Esq., a busy Philadelphia divorce lawyer.




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