Everyone goes through a recovery period in the transition out of marriage, and in the aftermath of divorce. The extent to which people recover has to do with the awareness people have of themselves, their reasons for marrying, their reasons for divorcing, and how people look at the opportunity divorce provides for them to change.
I see two recovery periods: Once the decision to divorce is made; and once the divorce is final. Let’s explore both.
- The decision to divorce can be mutual, or one spouse will ask the other spouse for a divorce. Or, in a shocking turn of events, one spouse can leave the home under false pretenses and never come back. One spouse finds evidence of an affair. Even in the best case scenario when a mutual decision has been made, there is a grieving period. There is an energy shift in both spouses lives, just like in the death of a loved one. Divorce is the end of an intimate partnership. People are transformed through an energy shift, hopefully in a positive way, so that divorce can be a new beginning.
- The grieving stage transitioning out of the marriage is an emotional clearing house that includes anger, denial, bargaining, fear, guilt, apology and forgiveness. The grieving stage after the divorce is final is a process of moving toward acceptance that the former life is gone, and creating new energy for the present and future life.
- I always look at change philosophically, as something necessary that will eventually enhance and improve a persons life, as hard as that may be to accept initially. In my mediation practice I try to share that point of view with spouses who blame the other spouse, without end, for ruining their lives. True, it may look like one person is all to blame, and in some cases that may be true. But all too many times, when I allow one spouse to just talk in a caucus – a one-on-one moment with the mediator – the issues that were part of the marriage come out: Not a well thought out decision to marry; a knowing that the decision to marry wasn’t right; a premonition that there would be trouble in the future of the relationship…and yet the marriage took place.
- There are two divorces, the Emotional Divorce and the Legal Divorce. The Emotional Divorce allows for the grieving of the marriage to take place. The Emotional Divorce can take one to two years. That’s right, time to grieve is essential in dealing with the energy shift. No one should allow their spouse to push them through the divorce if they’re not ready. Making legal decisions while emotional doesn’t work for either spouse. If time doesn’t allow more than a few months to reflect and emotionally transition, it’s a good idea to hire a divorce coach to be a guide, a sounding board, a mirror to the decisions necessary for the divorce.
- Grieving once the divorce is final is surprising. It’s a different kind of grief that is unexpected. It’s adjusting to the finality of the marriage, the silence that takes place when no other decisions need to be made. The energy is calmer because there are no more mediations, no more lawyer conversations, fewer decisions because that was part of the Legal Divorce.
- The silence that ensues post divorce is the space in which to consider life’s purpose going forward. There is finality in this silence, and there is hope. This is where the new beginning lives. The divorce decisions are switched to new life decisions that can be anything. The sky’s the limit. A new life starts now. Clear sailing ahead. (I’m a sucker for cliches!)
Even when people know they don’t have the best marriage, the change from marriage to divorce is still incredibly difficult. But my contention has always been that if people can look at this intense level of change as something more beneficial than they can see at the time of uncoupling, and trust in the intelligence of the universe to provide the change that is important to our development, divorce can be the best worst thing that could even happen.
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