Psychological changes you will experience during a divorce Part I

Posted on October 14, 2010 by Kimberley Kellogg No Comments

Anger, jealousy, guilt, resentment, bitterness, depression and/or grief are some of the emotions you will experience. There are supposedly several stages of grief but grief is only one of the many and strong emotions you will probably experience. The final stage of grief is acceptance, but some people never get over a divorce. Denial is a common psychological state, if you are not the one who asked for the divorce. Denial usually begins before the formality of filing papers. There is some truth that the spouse is always the last one to know. The clues that the relationship was not going well may have been obvious to everyone else.
Psychologists interested in the factors that predict success or failure of relationships had couples record several activities daily. They found that the frequency with which the couples had sex and the frequency of arguments were important predictors. In virtually every case they studied when the couple had more arguments than sex the relationship soon ended. This finding may or may not mean that you can save a relationship by increasing frequency of sex or by biting your tongue and not arguing. It is possible that some other factors might affect both of these, but they seem to be a reliable barometer and you should keep an eye on these numbers in your relationship.

During the divorce process

Even if you are the one filling the papers you will probably experience the major emotion of depression and the loss of positives in your life. The losses occur whether you stay in the dwelling or move out. A lot of physical things that gave you positive motivation will no longer be there, e.g., your favorite recliner, the microwave, the pictures on the wall, stereo/tv, and most probably, sex and companionship. In addition to things lost you will become busy with the meetings with your attorney or work and you will stop doing a lot of the activities that gave you pleasure. This depression can spiral downward because depression robs you of energy. Since you have less energy you don’t feel like doing any fun things, and because you don’t have any fun you get more depressed. Of course if you are in contact with your therapist, don’t be surprised when you are told to schedule some fun time for yourself. Follow your therapist’s advice. You will be better off sitting in a darkened theatre watching a comedy movie than sitting alone in a darkened room at home.
Another powerful emotion you will probably experience is guilt. Which of us who has lost a parent has not chastised themselves with thoughts of how they should have shown them more love? Even if all your friends tell you that the divorce is the right thing to do, they are usually referring to your loss of a spouse, but you are losing not just a person, but a dream. The dream you had of a happy life has died. Your therapist will probably try to help you separate the loss of the person from the loss of a dream and advise you to let the person go but keep the dream. The guilt you feel may be toward yourself in that you don’t feel that you nourished the dream as much as you should have.

While you are going through the emotional roller coaster you can also expect to feel pangs of regret. Studies show that one person or the other, will make an attempt to get back together within about six weeks. Even if you tell your friends that you know you are doing the right thing, you might feel that getting together and talking won’t hurt. One explanation for this is that we forget bad things faster than we forget good things. “Out of sight, out of mind” works best for aversive experiences resulting in the truth that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Yes, it is possible that you might be intimate during the separation. If so you must relate that to your therapist but not necessarily to your friends.
Expect your friends to take sides. The neighbors may quit calling and others may not return your calls. Some may become outright hostile to you or your spouse. Other couples may split their loyalty but the result will be that you don’t socialize with them as frequently. You will have become a fifth wheel and don’t quite fit into groups of couples. If you get back together they know that they told you they didn’t approve of your choice the first time and they will be reluctant to face you. That should be your decision and their problem.

Anger, jealousy, guilt, resentment, bitterness, depression and/or grief are some of the emotions you will experience. There are supposedly several stages of grief but grief is only one of the many and strong emotions you will probably experience. The final stage of grief is acceptance, but some people never get over a divorce. Denial is a common psychological state, if you are not the one who asked for the divorce. Denial usually begins before the formality of filing papers. There is some truth that the spouse is always the last one to know. The clues that the relationship was not going well may have been obvious to everyone else.
Psychologists interested in the factors that predict success or failure of relationships had couples record several activities daily. They found that the frequency with which the couples had sex and the frequency of arguments were important predictors. In virtually every case they studied when the couple had more arguments than sex the relationship soon ended. This finding may or may not mean that you can save a relationship by increasing frequency of sex or by biting your tongue and not arguing. It is possible that some other factors might affect both of these, but they seem to be a reliable barometer and you should keep an eye on these numbers in your relationship.

During the divorce process

Even if you are the one filling the papers you will probably experience the major emotion of depression and the loss of positives in your life. The losses occur whether you stay in the dwelling or move out. A lot of physical things that gave you positive motivation will no longer be there, e.g., your favorite recliner, the microwave, the pictures on the wall, stereo/tv, and most probably, sex and companionship. In addition to things lost you will become busy with the meetings with your attorney or work and you will stop doing a lot of the activities that gave you pleasure. This depression can spiral downward because depression robs you of energy. Since you have less energy you don’t feel like doing any fun things, and because you don’t have any fun you get more depressed. Of course if you are in contact with your therapist, don’t be surprised when you are told to schedule some fun time for yourself. Follow your therapist’s advice. You will be better off sitting in a darkened theatre watching a comedy movie than sitting alone in a darkened room at home.
Another powerful emotion you will probably experience is guilt. Which of us who has lost a parent has not chastised themselves with thoughts of how they should have shown them more love? Even if all your friends tell you that the divorce is the right thing to do, they are usually referring to your loss of a spouse, but you are losing not just a person, but a dream. The dream you had of a happy life has died. Your therapist will probably try to help you separate the loss of the person from the loss of a dream and advise you to let the person go but keep the dream. The guilt you feel may be toward yourself in that you don’t feel that you nourished the dream as much as you should have.

While you are going through the emotional roller coaster you can also expect to feel pangs of regret. Studies show that one person or the other, will make an attempt to get back together within about six weeks. Even if you tell your friends that you know you are doing the right thing, you might feel that getting together and talking won’t hurt. One explanation for this is that we forget bad things faster than we forget good things. “Out of sight, out of mind” works best for aversive experiences resulting in the truth that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Yes, it is possible that you might be intimate during the separation. If so you must relate that to your therapist but not necessarily to your friends.
Expect your friends to take sides. The neighbors may quit calling and others may not return your calls. Some may become outright hostile to you or your spouse. Other couples may split their loyalty but the result will be that you don’t socialize with them as frequently. You will have become a fifth wheel and don’t quite fit into groups of couples. If you get back together they know that they told you they didn’t approve of your choice the first time and they will be reluctant to face you. That should be your decision and their problem.

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