Contemplating Divorce

Whether you should stay or go

Three Divorces for the Price of One

There's no way around it - there are three divorces everyone experiences.

When most of us hear the word divorce, we think of one process that involves tasks such as dealing with the local courts and getting a lawyer, sorting out finances and child custody issues and one or both spouses having to move to a new neighborhood.

In reality, divorce is not one event, it is a complex set of events that impacts every single area of your life. I liken the process to that of trying to disentangle two trees that have grown side by side for years. The root systems becomes intertwined and the longer the trees grow next to each other, the more intricately interwoven the roots become.

I recently came upon an interesting article by Lee Borden on his www.DivorceInfo.com website wherein he talks about the fact that there are really three divorces: The Legal Divorce; The SocialDivorce; and, The Emotional Divorce. 

Go to: http://www.divorceinfo.com/threedivorces.htm

 

People often feel daunted and preoccupied by having to file paperwork, hire a lawyer, write out their income and expense reports, decide who gets what custody of the kids and make some huge decisions about their future (at the time when they are least able to). Indeed, these are the openly spoken about tasks that everyone knows are difficult and expensive.

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But, in fact, the law and finance pieces, while no picnic, are often described as "easy" compared to the social and emotional (social includes dealing with friends, extended family and the children).

When the dust settles, people begin to realize that their social network has been turned on its ear by virtue of the fact that they had to move to a new neighborhood. Even for those who don't have to move, there is stark fact that couples and singles don't usually mix, so the entire social realm and perhaps even status in the community gets shifted.

For many, divorce brings out an ugly part of their personality - a part that is very fear-based, very sad and often very angry. New emotions that have never been experienced before emerge.
These intense negative emotions can pull people out of alignment with their normal sense of integrity. Sometimes people spy, lie and cheat on the person they once vowed to love honor and cherish.

It's not uncommon for people one, two or even three years post-divorce to contact me and ask about joining a divorce group. One reason they want to get this type of support is that they have not recovered (and believe they should have by now) or they haven't made much headway through their grief (and they believe they should have by now). The other reason to join with others in a similar transition is to find a sense of community with people with whom they have something in common.

It can be a source of tremendous relief to know you're "normal" and that you're not going crazy.
The social and emotional aspects of divorce can sometimes linger for years but addressing your needs head on is crucial in moving through your process.

Here are some Quick Tips to help you on your path:

Get adequate support
Don't judge yourself
Have realistic expectations
Write as an added way to process your emotions

 

Susan Pease Gadoua, L.C.S.W., is the author of Contemplating Divorce and Stronger Day by Day.

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