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What to Expect During a Divorce

Sept. 1, 2022

All divorces are painful.  Period.  Whether you are the person leaving, the person being left, or if it was a mutual decision by both of you.  The depth and length of the pain is unique and depends on the circumstances of the divorce.  Usually, the person being left feels the most amount of pain because the added emotion of rejection can keep a person drowning in feelings of insecurity and inadequacy for a long time.  The person who seeks to leave their marriage can have feelings of guilt and shame that can keep them mired in painful emotions as well.  Whatever the case, here are some things to expect when you decide (or someone decides for you) to get a divorce. 

  1. Expect to be on an emotional rollercoaster.  Your emotions will be all over the place from deep grief, to rage, to inconsolable sorrow.  There may be days when you feel almost normal and then something will trigger a tsunami of grief.  This is inevitable.  The longer you have been married the more triggers you will have, especially if you have kids.  Divorce is a death and deserves to be mourned; it is the death of your family as it was, the death of your dreams for your spouse and you together, and possibly the death of trust in life itself.  You may have emotional outbursts at the most awkward and inconvenient times; be gentle with yourself.  Slowly these waves of emotions will become further and further apart but it takes time. 

  1. Expect people to judge you. Especially by people that have never been divorced, or by people who don’t believe in divorce.  For some reason, judgmental people have the false belief that all divorces can be lumped into neat and tidy categories and that they know everything about those categories. This is simply not true.  All divorces are unique and have unique circumstances; yours is completely different from anyone else’s.  Resist engaging in conversations with anyone who doesn’t know all the details, they will simply add to your distress. 

  1. Expect to make mistakes.  Unless you are perfect (and we all know you aren’t) you will screw up.  You will let your emotions get the better of you and you will do or say things you wished you hadn’t.  It’s ok.  What you are going through is hard, really hard.  Forgive yourself and move on. 

  1. Expect the process to be more painful than you thought.  Unless your divorce is completely amicable and you both agree on everything, your divorce will take longer than you thought possible.  For sure the courts don’t care about your timeline, and don’t really care about your marriage.  If you hire attorneys, plan on the divorce to be adversarial and take longer than you planned.  Your soon to be ex-spouse will do and say things you never imagined them capable of doing.  The person you married will have disappeared and been replaced with a distant and unfeeling stranger intent on getting their own way. 

  1. Expect to be weepy the day your divorce is final.  Whether you were ready for the divorce, or resisting it, the day it’s final is sad and hard.  It’s the last nail in the coffin of what you thought your family was going to be as well as your dreams of happily ever after with your ex-spouse. You and your kids’ lives are changed forever and the loss deserves to be mourned. 

Divorce is hard and shouldn’t be taken lightly, but if you do have to experience it, understand that it is something that you will move through as time goes by.  Let yourself feel the pain, accept your reality whenever you are able, and realize that the pain is not forever.  You will move on, and healing will come if you are willing to be open to the process.