Preparing Emotionally

Self-Understanding and Decision-Making

Divorce is a big step with long-term consequences. Becoming aware of the psychological and emotional aspects of your divorce will help you understand yourself and, ideally, help you make decisions for sound reasons, not just ones motivated by the impulses generated by anger and fear.

Clarify Where You Are Headed


Ask yourself whether you really want to dissolve your marriage and, if so, what that will entail. By clarifying your own motives and purposes, you will be better able to communicate that to others, to search for the most effective kind of help and to do it in the most direct way.    

This is helpful: Seven Divorce Survival Strategies For Women  

This is even more helpful: Go to our Helpful Links and look at "Planning for Your Divorce"!!!

The Ambivalence Hurdle

If ambivalence takes its tight grip on your emotions and on your ability to make decisions which may lead you down a path not yet chosen, seek some help from others, be they friends, family, confidants or professional assistance like counseling.                                                                    

Not to Worry 

Marriage difficulties that initially seem insurmountable may grow in their intensity in the all too fertile confines of your own mind. Exposing these concerns to the light of day will put these ideas into perspective. Like all good decision-making, before taking the steps required to end your marriage, make sure as best you can, that you want it ended, not changed.

                                                              "If we revise our expectations of what divorce means,

                                                                          we transform the entire experience."


Control What You Can!

To an extent, how you are affected by the process of divorce is under your own control. You can’t always control the way the process works. Your own assumptions about the way the process “should” work, however, are the self-made ingredients which will flavor your experience. The ideas you form about the process, like the emotions it generates along the way, may be accurate gauges of the system, or they may be the distasteful residue of the assumptions you have made about how the system should solve your problems. If your assumptions and expectations about the results which you think the process can or should achieve are not realistic, or if the outcome you seek is unattainable, you are likely to become frustrated, disappointed, and/or angry at the legal system, at your attorney and at the system of justice in general. The feelings generated by unrealistic assumptions and expectations will transcend and outlast your divorce. When that happens, your opportunity to understand, reflect upon and learn from the painful lessons incident to the severance of a marital relationship are usually lost.

"Justice" and/or "Retribution"

                                                                     “Don't go to divorce court for justice;

                                                                                  go for a conclusion."                                     

                                             Justice? -- You get it in the next world, in this world you have the law.

Patience, Patience


Becoming separated and then divorced is a process, not a singular event. It is a process with early and late phases, and the emotions at either end of this spectrum are as unpredictable as they are strong. Be patient. Learn to stand still, listen, be patient, wait and shut up. “Time is what keeps everything from happening at once. It takes longer to get your divorce behind you than you think, or can allow yourself to believe.”


Stay Physically Fit

Normal feelings of grief, anger, loneliness and resentment are compounded when combined with fears of an unknown future. To be prepared for this lethal mix, you need to keep yourself as physically healthy and fit as possible, particularly if you are a parent of children who are taking this same journey. “I get enough exercise just pushing my luck”. "Going through divorce is a physical experience. This one took me by surprise. My body seemed to experience a death-defying whirlpool. I hate speed, roller coasters and the feeling of one's stomach dropping when on a turbulent airplane ride. But I can remember having all those feelings simultaneously while just sitting in a chair after we separated. Yuck! Fortunately this usually passes in three to nine months-not short enough!” Be patient with yourself. All things do pass. Marriage, Divorce and Your Waistline!

I'll Get Around To It

Do your best not to AVOID and to PROCRASTINATE. They are as unproductive as their opposite, the need for an immediate end to the confusion, or as I like to call it, COMPULSIVE Don't Shut Yourself Off. 


Try not to become isolated and self absorbed as you labor in this field. One way to avoid isolation, and to avoid making rushed decisions you may later regret, is to seek the help and support of others as you try and educate yourself about your emotional, legal and financial situation. You may crash when you discover that person you thought was so wonderful and evoked those feelings of elation and excitement no longer seems to be who you first thought they were.

                                                                 Love may be blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.

                                           Making peace with life's changes is good for you, for your kids, and for your life.

                                                                    Divorce is not the path to be recommended easily,

                                                              but it's not a terminal illness, or a contagious disease either.”

So don't isolate yourself and suffer the immobilizing self-criticism and self-doubt which can make the process far more painful and difficult than it need be.

                                 Don't spend it by yourself, unless you really enjoy digging a dark hole and crawling into it.”

Therapists Can Help

More specifically: Seek out a reliable therapist who has experience in marital matters. Anger, guilt, revenge and resentment are the emotional foundations for some very bad decisions. A good therapist can be a valuable source of information, not necessarily to "correct" the situation, but to help you understand the nature of the process you are going through. A good therapist will often have some valuable suggestions.

                                                  “You have to learn to accept, overlook and forgive,

                                               or else you are going to expend lots of wasted emotions

                                                         on someone you're not even married to.

                                            You can only be angry with or hate someone you care about.”

Talk To Others

Talk about the situation with others. You will need support now more than ever from the friends and relatives with whom you have established a good relationship in the past. But beware, or at least be realistic: "People love you when they know you're leaving soon". Counseling and self-analysis can become a form of self absorbed agony. The support, acceptance and love of friends who hold your hand and commiserate are important at a time when you feel so isolated.

Prepare For Some Surprises

Be prepared for some unexpected, and perhaps unwanted, changes. Your divorce may mean a divorce from some “friends”, too. There will also be friends, relatives (parents included) and associates who will pass judgment.


Even where you thought you had established a strong relationship, divorce may make you a pariah. Some may be unwilling or incapable of outwardly sanctioning divorce. Your mere presence may trigger an internal conflict for some of them. Your not being in a “couple” will change some of your relationships. A good piece of advice: Don’t take it personally, because it probably isn’t.

He/She Doth Protest Too Much

Perhaps you’re not that important, after all! (Just ask your spouse). If you are wearing your emotions on your sleeve, it won’t fit well with some. Be as objective as you can about your relationships. After all, they are who they must be. They can’t be anyone else any more than you can. Your angst is not theirs. If you are in desperate need of “justifying” your role in a “battle”, don't expect your friends to take sides, or they may soon be ex-friends. It may be perfectly appropriate to tell close friends about the divorce, about your concerns, about your beliefs about “the cause of it all” - don't insist that they listen and don’t blindly assume they agree. Perhaps it is time for you to listen. If you have to “sell” your perspective, the principle doubter may be yourself. The best support they can give you is their honesty, but if they care about you, they won’t want to “blind-side” you with “honesty” if your own behavior tells them you don’t want to hear it. Be prepared to accept their reaction. Let go of the “yoke of self” that drives you to self justification.

Be Patient and Kind to Yourself

“Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else”. In the end, your ideas about friendship are going to change, because you are going to change. Relax and enjoy the process. It takes a long


Be patient enough with yourself to let something good happen. You are not “losing” friends, and the process of “separation” is not a “break” from the past. The positive memories of the times you spent together, the laughs, the absolutely stupid things you enjoyed so much, the feelings of affection, do not change. See "You Are Divorced Not Broken".  Goodbyes teach us about the value of those whom we have loved and how they have touched us. Goodbyes move us from one state of being to another. Bitterness is a tempting attitude and emotion. But consider:

                                         "Curses and blessings do not come through the gates uninvited;

                                          we invite their arrival."   Lao-tzu, Treatise on Response and Retribution

Stay Positive-Attitude is Everything


Be patient and be selective. Don't be bogged down by those who wave the negative like a banner. Maybe things don't work out in a marriage for good reason--fault is a road with no end. See Dr.Hamburg's thoughts. Consider the possibilities before you. A positive attitude will attract others of a similar outlook. Bitter attracts bitter. Your attitude is a choice, and it is a choice that defines what is possible for you. You have made choices, some big mistakes. So have the rest of us. Remember, you did the very best you could with the limited awareness that you had at the time.

  •       Accept yourself for being as wise and aware as you could be;
  •       Accept yourself for having done precisely what you needed to do;
  •       As best you can, and there are severe limits, rectify any damage that you may have
  •              caused and move on. Shit Happens.
  •       Accept the past, learn all you can from the past and then let it go and move on with your life.

Here's a format for thinking about all this--we think it's excellent!! Wellness:


Positive wellness represents the experiences of joy and contentment, combined with a sense that one's life is good, meaningful and worthwhile. People who are well make things happen, they pursue new understandings, seek new achievements and direct their conscious decisions to control factors that promote vitality, joy and longevity.

Six dimensions of wellness

There are six dimensions of optimal wellness:

  1. Physical
  2. Emotional
  3. Intellectual
  4. Interpersonal
  5. Spiritual
  6. Environmental

These six dimensions are interrelated. For example, consider how physical exercise boosts emotional mood—or how a stressful relationship takes a physical toll on lost sleep, tension and bad eating behaviors. The process of achieving optimal wellness is constant and dynamic, involving change and growth.

In each of these six dimensions, common behaviors characterize those on the road to optimal wellness.

The challenge is to identify and practice those behaviors that promote optimal wellness. For most of us, this means we need to be changers, trying out new behaviors and attitudes.


Give It Up

There are practical advantages to be had in struggling toward a personal center of balance. Resentment, recrimination and self justification are natural “buoyancy” techniques to offset the sense of betrayal and confusion which chomp at our sense of self-confidence during the break up of a marriage. These by products of anger can become a useful and constructive part of the process. There is an equal risk, however, that they will take over your future by freezing your attitude in the bitters of time. Conflict is a natural and inevitable part of the process, but it needs at some point to be flushed. It ages like bad cider. It is also an addiction which at times feels so good, that you can’t wait to repeat the experience over and over. But when you need it that bad, its destructive erosion of your peace of mind is just over the horizon. So give it up today, not tomorrow.


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