The difference between an amicable and an acrimonious divorce is how each spouse feels about their soon-to-be ex, and how they manage and express their emotions. That’s why grieving before filing is so important. There are seven stages to divorce grief: Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance, Forgiveness. When you’ve reach Acceptance, it’ time to file. When you’ve reached Forgiveness, you’re in control of your happiness again.
Emotions will run rampant throughout the divorce. Even when time is taken – sometimes up to one year – to process the emotions of the marriage, the pending divorce, and the fear of single life after the divorce – spouses can still become emotional. There will be trigger points in the settlement decision-making that will cause emotion to surface. But with the help of a therapist or divorce coach (someone who understands the seven stages of divorce grief) the emotions can be managed and quickly mitigated.
The benefit in managing emotions is mental, physical, and financial. Mentally, clarity and focus can be maintained in order to make better settlement decisions. Physically, the impact on health is diminished; stress affects health. And financially, people spend less on their divorce when they’re not driven by negative emotions. People experience less settlement remorse if decisions are made without emotion, with intention and purpose, and without the desire to hurt the other spouse.
The timing of dealing with those emotions in advance of the filing is different for each spouse, but grieving can sometimes take up to a year. Better to take time in advance of the filing, if possible, than stall the filing. But if time is needed during the course of the filing, take it. Tell your spouse, the attorneys, the mediator that you need a little time to process emotions before moving forward.
Divorce is a huge life change that can work to the benefit of the spouses if both spouses take the time to develop self-awareness, acceptance and forgiveness, which is all a result of taking the time to grieve the end of the marriage.
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