UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONAL BARRIERS
TO AN AMICABLE RESOLUTION
The Grieving Process
A divorce can be divided into four categories: (1) legal requirements;
(2) children and parenting; (3) money and property; and (4) grief. Legal
requirements must be met.
Assets and liabilities will need to be divided and
family support determined. If you have children, parenting will have to be
arranged. But above all, and often out of all proportion to the rest, you and
your spouse will be dealing with your grief over the loss of your marriage.
Divorce is the death of a relationship.
Only the death of a spouse is generally reported to be more stressful for adults than divorce. Separa-
tion and divorce are consistently rated more stressful than going to jail, losing a job, personal injury, illness, mortgage foreclosure, and all other
distressing life experiences except for the death of a spouse.
The Stages of Grief:
Psychologists typically define the stages of grief as:
Settling a divorce requires a lot of hard work from both spouses.
You will have to gather documents, prepare budgets, list all your assets
and liabilities and put a value on them, and make many decisions about
how to parent your children and divide your property. The emotions
you and your spouse experience during the grief process can make it
difficult for you to move ahead with these tasks.
In the shock stage, you may feel paralyzed and unable to take any
action while you process the idea of ending your marriage. In the denial
stage, you may put off doing the work that is necessary to settle your divorce thinking that the divorce is never going to happen. You may think that dragging out the process will give your spouse time to come
to his or her senses and give up on the divorce.
In the anger stage, you may dwell on how your spouse has wronged
you and feel a need to vent to anyone who will listen about what a
horrible person he or she is. You may find yourself opposing proposals
from your spouse, even when they make sense because you want to
punish him or her. You may also find yourself making unfair demands.
In the bargaining stage, you may hope to change your spouse's mind
about the divorce by promising to change yourself into the ideal wife
or husband. You may be overly generous to your spouse in negotiations
in hopes of getting your spouse to believe that you are a wonderful,
generous person and the divorce is a mistake.
In the depression stage, you may be disengaged from the negotiations
and may not care how things are resolved. You will probably find it hard
to follow through with tasks and make decisions.
In the acceptance stage, you recognize that your marriage is over and
that you must move forward to create a new life for yourself. When both
spouses are in the acceptance stage, negotiations are most productive.