Phases of Divorce: Part 2

The 5 Emotional Stages of Divorce

Outside of the death of a loved one, experts consider divorce to be one of the toughest, life-changing experiences and losses a person could go through.  Researchers have determined that divorce is so impactful that the widely accepted five stages of grief can be applied to the divorce experience. “The Five Stages of Grief” developed by David Kessler and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross are defined as
1. Denial/Shock
2. Anger
3. Depression
4. Bargaining,
5. Acceptance
Those five stages can be applied to each stage of the divorce process.

Stage 1: Denial/Shock

The shock that the marriage is over, denial that there has been an affair, denial that the love no longer exists.  There is an illusion that everything is ok, we will get through this, it is not happening to us, we are not one of those couples, we will work things out.

Stage 2: Anger

Anger over the affair, anger at the other spouse for disconnecting, anger about how this will hurt the children, anger over the loss of the dream.  The anger includes being angry at oneself and angry at the other spouse.  Blaming often happens.

Stage 3: Depression

A mild to intense sadness over the loss of the love, the loss of the dream, sadness for the children, mourning, the erosion is felt so deeply.

Stage 4: Bargaining

If only I could have been a better partner, kept the house cleaner, made more money, been more attractive, cooked more, not gained weight, parented the children better.  I will make a nice dinner and we can reconnect, I will start working out, I will hire a maid, I will work more hours to bring in more money.

Stage 5: Acceptance

This is happening to us, this is happening to me, this is happening to our children and we will get through it.  I am going to be single.  I am going to be a single parent.  I am no longer stressed all of the time.  I look forward to figuring out who I am absent the other person.

The Lawyer’s Perspective

Divorce lawyers in Dallas, TX have found that a very common situation seen by those who work with families going through a divorce is where one spouse has spent months or years working their way through the emotional stages of divorce, while still in the marriage and without the other spouse knowing.  These people have already made it to the acceptance stage.  Then they file for divorce and only THEN can the other spouse begin working through the emotional stages of divorce.
For the person who has just been caught off guard, surprised by the news of divorce, it is extremely difficult.
They are beginning the stages of grief, and in the midst of grief, they begin trying to work their way through the family law court system.  The last place someone would want to be, in the middle of grieving such a tremendous loss, is in a courtroom, litigating (fighting out) their divorce.
What we know for sure is that even good people, when hurting enough, alter their behavior in an effort to survive traumatic experiences.
CLICK HERE to read the next installment of “PHASES OF DIVORCE”: The Financial Stages
Part 1: Phases of Divorce – Overview
Part 2: The Emotional Stages of Divorce
Part 3: The Financial Stages of Divorce
Part 4: The Legal Stages of Divorce
Past 5: The Social Stages of Divorce
Part 6: Conclusion-The New Single You