Let‘s be honest – avoiding any sort of drama during the lengthy process of divorce is next to impossible. Feelings WILL get hurt, old conflicts WILL flare up and anger and resentment WILL be involved. It is only natural. Divorce can be very similar to bereavement and this means that both sides of the dissolved marriage have to go through a period of grief. You have probably heard about the Kübler-Ross model which identifies five different stages that must be passed through by anybody dealing with any kind of loss – and divorce certainly falls into the category of the latter. In order to help you maintain your composure and preserve your dignity while separating from your partner, we will look at all five of these stages and will try to identify some helpful coping strategies along the way.
- Denial. Your first instinct is very likely to point you towards the direction of denial and defensiveness. ‘This cannot be happening.‘ ‘The marriage was fine and divorce does not make sense.‘ Even if you are able to recognise that it might be the right choice for both of you, you will probably deny your part in the dissolution. Accept it. As hard as that might be, you have to make peace with the fact that your marriage has come to an end and you might have very well played a part in that too. Refrain from putting all the blame on your partner, as that can only lead to unnecessary hostility.
- Anger. You have the right to be angry. Let your anguish out – however, if you have children, protect them from having to witness it. You should never engage in a screaming match with your ex-partner in front of the kids. You should never talk negatively about the other parent within their hearing range. You should always put the needs of your kids first. Too often children become pawns in the battle between their heartbroken parents, and too often it leads to long-lasting trauma.
- Bargaining. This is not only an important stage within the grieving process, but also our biggest recommendation to those of you who are trying to divorce with dignity. Litigation is rarely a dignified affair, so you should do your best to achieve an amicable outcome using the strategies of mediation or collaborative divorce. Keep in mind, however, that both of these techniques require a process of give-and-take. Be prepared to look for compromises. Put your anger aside and cooperate with your ex-partner instead of trying to destroy them.
- Depression. This is the stage that often requires the most outside help. Let‘s say that the process of mediation was successful after all and you now have your freedom back – but a new divorcee rarely knows what to do with it. You might struggle to find meaning and direction in your new life. The most dignified thing that you can do in a case like this is ask for help. You do not have to suffer on your own and you do not have to remain strong at all times. Talk to a friend, find a shoulder to cry on, book an appointment with a therapist – it is crucial to find ways to let those frustrations out instead of hoarding them and watching them slowly eat away at your well-being.
- Acceptance. This is the last stage of the process of grieving, but it is not the end of your journey. In fact, the opposite is probably true – it is merely the beginning. Once you truly accept the fact that your marriage has ended, you can start rediscovering and rebuilding your identity. What do you want to do with your life? How can you change it for the better? Do not be afraid to get excited about it. You are standing at the beginning of a new chapter in your life and you alone are in control of writing it.
As divorce becomes more and more common, so does its amicable variation. There is a growing awareness of the issues that separating couples face, as well different strategies to resolve them, and dissolution of marriage no longer means endless conflicts and animosity. Some divorced couples even manage to live happily in the same house and take great care of their children as a result! Our divorce solicitors are aware of the fact that such utopian outcomes are an exception, but what they also know is that preserving your dignity in the face of divorce is very much possible – and they have helped countless clients do just that.