How to Cope with Divorce When You Don’t Want It
Did your spouse spring the news of divorce on you, and you found yourself completely blindsided? Did you catch him/ her cheating on you? Or did talks fall through and he/ she filed for divorce, only for you to be notified much later?
Regardless of the circumstances of how the divorce was tabled to you when you don’t want a relationship to end but it ends anyway, it can be a rather traumatic experience.
How to cope with divorce when you don't want it?
As painful as this must feel, we need to recognize that there’re things in life that will remain out of our control. So, let’s focus on what we can control.
- Give yourself some space
- Allow your emotions to run
- Acceptance is key
Give yourself some space
When discussions have broken down, it’s good to take a step back to re-evaluate the circumstances. Sometimes we act on impulse and want to chase the person down, insisting that they talk. However, when the other party has mentally and emotionally shut down, adding more pressure in the meantime will not yield the results you desire.
Instead, if both parties are allowed some quiet time to process the years of memories before attempts to reopen conversations are made, it might be more conducive that way.
For one, time would have allowed both parties to calm down, and truly see things for what they are. Clarity is pertinent.
While alone, ask yourself these questions:
- What did you like and dislike about the marriage?
- What went wrong? Did one or both parties drift apart due to work schedules? Was there a third party involved?
- In the event there’s a third party involved, and if you’re the person being cheated on, can you trust your lover again after this?
- What were things you can do better next time?
Ultimately, before you seek to repair, first determine whether the relationship is worth saving. It takes two hands to clap as well – If you wish to repair, ensure that your partner has also bought into the idea. If trust has been irreparably broken, and there’s no turning back, then acceptance is key.
Allow your emotions to run
Cry your eyes out over tubs of ice cream if you have to, even talk about the relationship with a trusted friend. This is the time to properly process your emotions in a healthy manner.
Pain is inevitable, but how we choose to deal with this experience is our choice.
What can you do in situations like this?
- Take things one day at a time: As heavy as each day feels, put one foot in front of the other daily. That’s all you need to focus on – Just one step a day.
- Surround yourself with a strong support system: This is the time you’re going to need help, and that’s okay.
- Get back to activities that you love doing: Join new hobby groups, and make new friends.
- Set a new schedule for yourself: A new routine and a new environment might be an opportunity to start afresh.
Take a holiday: Life has been heavy lately, and if you prefer to go all Eat Pray Love and take off into the winds, no one would blame you either. Just take the time you’d need.
When you’ve both taken some time if you still think the marriage is worth saving (and please make sure that there has been no physical abuse that took place), reach out with a short note asking to chat.
Be prepared that your partner might not respond favorably.
In the event however the person is willing to chat, approach gently and be mindful to keep a soft tone. The last thing you’d want is to end up yelling at each other.
Table couples therapy if both of you are open to the idea of working things out. Being willing to receive help is not a sign of weakness, but one of strength. Especially if you guys have been married for a while now, there are inevitably issues that are swept under the rug for years or unresolved topics that will now have to be discussed. Professional help can aid in mediating the process.
During the process of therapy, if you guys have made arrangements to live separately, that’s fine too. Some breathing space after years of marriage might not be a bad thing, though do talk about clear boundaries during this phase. What is considered acceptable, and what is not?
If your goal is not to salvage the relationship but to chat about how to split duties for the sake of your kid/ children, leave the past at the door, and your emotions preferably out of the way It’s understandably difficult, yet essential for a civil conversation.
Acceptance is key
To struggle with acceptance is to suffer.
Whatever the outcome, acceptance is the solution to stop struggling internally and to stop torturing yourself over what has transpired.
Both parties have to accept responsibility for what happened. Even if there was no big argument and you guys drifted apart, accept that both of you could have done more before reaching this stage.
Examine the partnership, and pluck out lessons that are meant for you. Make changes if you have to, or even check in to therapy one-on-one if you desire to improve yourself.
Life doesn’t stop here. The lessons will definitely benefit you in the future.
In the words of N. R. Narayana Murthy, “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.”
We also shared about dealing with divorce threats.
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Deborah Choo loves discussing relationships, platonic or not, as that remains at the heart of human existence. She draws upon learnings from couples’ counselling, and continues to celebrate an incredible journey of growth.