Managing Strong Emotions

Divorce is a great loss in anyone’s life. It is a loss which creates an enormous amount of stress for both you and your spouse. In terms of loss over the course of a person’s life, it is considered as devastating and stressful as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. It is the loss of a nuclear family, the loss of a dream, a future and a hope. Both parties to a divorce go through the grief process just as if they had experienced any other significant loss.

To complicate matters further, each party grieves in their own way, and at their own pace. It takes one to three years, on average, to process the grief of divorce. In addition, each party starts the process at a different point in time. One party may have been unhappy in the marriage for a long period of time and did their grieving during the marriage. Now, they are done and ready to move on. To the other party, the request for a divorce may have come as a devastating surprise. That party is just starting their grieving process. These dynamics will affect the ability of each party to communicate, process information, cooperate and make decisions as they move through the mediation process.

Each spouse faces significant change in their lives. If you have children, you are worried about how the divorce will impact them. You may be worried about where you will live, how often you will see your children, how will you pay the bills, will you have to return to work, or take a second job. The list is long. You and your spouse are often both uncertain of your future and full of anxiety over numerous issues.

Try to be kind and patient with yourself and your spouse during this time. Each of you will say or do something at some point which seems mean or hurtful. This is normal. Try not to take it personally. Apologize if you need to and move on.

Seek support from friends and family members. Hopefully, the ones that keep you grounded and not the ones that feed your negative emotions. If you feel overwhelmed emotionally, seek the help of a good therapist or a divorce coach. This can help you manage your emotions constructively as you move through the divorce process.

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