Heart breaking over divorce

The Six Stages of Divorce

Sometimes an impending divorce is obvious.  Other times, it comes as a shock–at least, to one of the parties.  But even when both parties agree that the marriage is definitely over, ending a marriage is a painful process.  You may have to move; you have to divide your furniture and other belongings; if you have children, there will be custody arrangements to sort out.  You have to find a good lawyer to advocate for your rights.  You have to change your routine–even if you were unhappy with the routine–after years, which is uncomfortable.  While it may feel like you are the only person to ever feel the way you do, most people going through a divorce actually go through the same basic stages.  Read on to learn more about the six stages of divorce.

  • Denial: In this first stage, people refuse to accept the reality of the situation: that their marriage is over.  It is just too difficult and painful to admit that the marriage has failed.  People in denial can’t see the truth, even if it is obvious to others.


  • Shock: In the second stage, people realize that they really are getting a divorce, and they feel all the emotions that come with it.  Fear, despair, and deep sadness may come in waves when the reality of the situation hits.


  • Rollercoaster: The rollercoaster phase involves highs and lows of emotion.  People may feel happiness and hope; after all, the marriage wasn’t great or it wouldn’t be over.  But those highs will be followed with the lows of depression.


  • Bargaining: People in the bargaining stage of divorce try to make a deal to save their marriage.  They might attempt to bargain with their spouse or just bargain in their own minds.  People in this phase may think that if they just make one simple change, or solve one problem, then their marriage will be alright.  Sometimes, one spouse wants a divorce and the other one doesn’t.  In this situation, the spouse who does not want a divorce may feel stuck in the bargaining phase for a long time.


  • Letting Go: In this stage of divorce, people start to free themselves of the marriage.  As well as letting go of the hope that the marriage can be salvaged.  They start to see the situation for what it is, recognize their own part in the divorce, and stop clinging to the past.


  • Acceptance: In the final stage of divorce, people recognize that the marriage is over and begin to move forward.  Acceptance allows people to embrace a new identity as a single person.  As well as allows people to see new possibilities for the future.  Accepting reality is a critical step for moving on from the divorce.

No one goes into a marriage planning on ending up in court, but it happens.  Take comfort in the fact that other people have gone through the same painful process and come out on the other side.  Give yourself permission to go through the stages in whatever time frameworks for you.  No two people are the same, so don’t expect your divorce to be just like someone else’s.

Going through a divorce is difficult.  Knowing what to expect can help, even if it is still painful.  A good lawyer can guide you through the process.  Paul H. Bowen has years of experience in family law.  If you are going through a divorce, put his experience to work for you.