A couple’s decision to proceed with the dissolution of their marriage is a complex and painful process both legally and psychologically.
The legal process is important because it determines a number of practical issues that need to be settled between the couple, however, it is the psychological process that will determine the nature of the divorce.
In simple words, if a divorce starts calmly then there are chances that it will be completed in a friendly and beneficial atmosphere for both the couple and the children if they exist.
Counseling can help both parties understand the reasons that led to this decision and manage their emotional state with respect and dignity.
The stages of divorce are quite similar to the stages of bereavement as this is where the loss of the relationship is experienced.
A greater degree of self-awareness can help a couple move through these stages and decouple their lives with peace.
The Stages of Divorce
We could describe the stages a couple goes through when they decide to divorce as follows:
The denial stage. Denial is a psychological mechanism that all humans have, which acts as a defense and protects us from intense and painful emotions that we are not ready to feel.
In the majority of divorces, one of the two partners has started the process of separation much earlier than the moment of the decision, so he is more emotionally ready for what will follow. But the other partner is shocked and tries not to accept it as a real event.
The anger stage. At this stage the emotions are very intense and usually expressed in various directions in a painful way. In the event that there are children, it is very likely that they will be the recipients of the angry parent and this must certainly be avoided in any case.
The negotiation stage. At this stage partners may try to look at their relationship again, reminisce about the good times or even discuss those that led to the breakup and thus proceed to a negotiation process.
The stage of depression. This stage comes when the separation is now a reality and is the most painful emotional situation for the one experiencing it.
The stage of acceptance. At this stage the negative feelings become milder and a hope for the future begins to emerge, for the building of a new life that may include the organization of everyday life, new activities, new friendships and social interactions in general.
Attitude towards children
In the event that the two partners are also parents, they need to properly manage the emotional state of their children, which differs according to their age and, consequently, their different needs. Of course, it is not easy and it is an additional difficulty that both partners will have to go through, so sometimes they need to receive the appropriate support in order to make as few mistakes as possible or to learn to correct in time an inappropriate behavior towards the their child.
It would be helpful to list some rules or basic principles that parents should keep in mind when faced with such a situation.
Children experience many emotions with their parents, which may take time to recognize and express, always depending on their age.
Children love and need both parents for this and should not turn against one or the other by being the recipient of their anger.
They need to know as much as they can handle but it must be the truth.
To be encouraged to express their feelings however intense they may be.
Do not turn into allies or supports of the parent who feels betrayed.
To continue normal daily activities so as not to create the feeling of disintegration of family life.
There should be balanced contact and communication with both parents so that only one is not charged with managing such a sensitive issue.
To give time to both ourselves and our children to accept the new situation and to never forget that when we feel good about ourselves this positively affects our children as well.
It is a fact that nowadays it is a common phenomenon for children to be raised by divorced parents as well as the existence of modern forms of family such as mixed ones when there are new partners and they share this responsibility. As a result, the negative social impact experienced by divorced couples in earlier times has been significantly mitigated, which may have taken the form of social stigma for their children.