The Inner Life Phases of Your Divorce


I remember feeling great relief to hear “divorce is its own special universe”, spoken by the therapist who guided and supported me through my divorce.

To recognize that divorce is a powerful enough time of change in life that it qualifies as its own world, allowed me to stop trying so hard to exclusively focus on daily life activities as my life’s only valid concern.

My therapist’s words encouraged me to concentrate as much as possible on the deep changes in self understanding which motivated me to both marry and divorce this particular man.

I stopped my self-criticism that as a therapist I should be able to stabilize more quickly than most people, and to feel less strongly disrupted than most people from unplugging the known structure of my life.

I gradually settled into fully acknowledging both the emotional and life style assumptions I was unhooking by divorcing.

In review of my divorce twelve years ago, I offer you some firsthand observations which I use now as guidance to clients in my family therapy practice who are divorcing.

From the time of contemplation through the moment of “congrats” completion, divorce has a few predictable phases. To know this may make any particularly painful or stressful one, a little more bearable.

Phase One: Decision
This one usually feels pretty good as it is the culmination of a long time devoted to weighing the possible different outcomes of staying or leaving.

Now your outward life will start to match your inner life. When someone comments, “I thought you were divorced”, since you don’t speak of your soon to be ex, only about your kids, say, you’ll feel somewhat relieved to know you are committing to the life path which to some degree you already are living.

Phase Two: Doubt
This obviously feels uneasy. The sustaining support and encouragement of your social circle isn’t always present for the reality of coming home each night with no familiar routine, only the felt absence of a partner and familiar life.

Phase Three: Determination
This feels much better because you’ve evolved to the point of grounded realism regarding your own life. You now recognize and accept the drawbacks of continuing the marriage, are willing to invest yourself in the grand scale life change to leave it behind, and are increasingly open to relate and interact in new ways with others.

These are broad overviews of sometimes intense times. Each unique divorcing person’s details and progress depends on their particular nature and scope of circumstances.

As you transform your life which “was” to the one which “will be”, you will ride waves unique to the “special universe” of divorce. All of them lead to a calmer, more stable shore.

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About Sherry Katz

Sherry Katz, LCSW is primarily a couples therapist who counsels partners and individuals of all adult ages, in relieving tension and unhappiness in their relationships. The spectrum of care in her practice includes recuperating from infidelity, clarifying and strengthening trust and communication, restoring and developing common ground for a relationship. Ms. Katz has a secondary practice interest in helping family members align themselves in response to caring for elderly parents, especially a parent who has Alzheimer's Disease.Old Stories, New Views Family Therapy

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