The 5 Stages of Grieving a Relationship after Divorce

The 5 Stages of Grieving a Relationship after Divorce

Well, now you have it. The relationship is dead. And, trust me, it’s not easy. Surviving the death of a relationship is like surviving the death of a loved one. There’s a grieving process we go through, we all do, when something dies. This time, it just happened to be your marriage. That one-time partner for life is nevermore. And, it hurts. It’s painful. Very painful. But we must endure and move on.

But, to do so, we need to understand the 5 stages of grieving involved and what we must conquer in the process.

The 5 Stages of Grieving

  1. Denial. In this first stage you are still listening to your broken heart’s ballad played on repeat rather than your logical mind. Said mind makes it clear that the relationship is done for. But you don’t hear it over the beating, entrancing unchained melody blaring from within.

As you’re trying to adjust to your new reality, one free of the struggles of your relationship and old routines, you’ll notice a tightening in your abdomen and a brief loss of breath caused by anxiety. You’re in a constant state of disbelief. And even send out the occasional (albeit unanswered) drunk text from time to time.

Still believing you can fix the broken-ness in the marriage, you entertain a level of hope for a future with her despite evidence to the contrary.

2. Anger. Anger is sneaky and can manifest in surprising ways during the 5 stages of grieving a relationship. It may be hard at first to know exactly where to aim your rage. You’re clearly angry at your ex, but you’re also conflicted by deeply rooted feelings of love and fondness for her.

You begin to think about all the ways she did you wrong. This, of course, leads to you to more self-loathing where you question your very place in the universe, and wax poetic about the fact that you will probably die alone.

After all, everyone but you is in a relationship that will last forever. How could your

How could she do this? What about all the plans you made? Did your promises mean nothing? You begin looking for someone to blame for your poor fortune. The ex is a given, but you really need a bigger target. God? The Universe? The producers of The Bachelor? Sure! They’ll do.

Everything reminds you of her.

A song on the radio.

A billboard for a local restaurant.

You associate situations and people with your breakup, and you find that you’re angry with people who really had no bearing on your relationship at all. When people try to avoid your wrath by talking some sense into you, it’s easier to respond with pure, fist-shaking, vein-popping rage than listen to reason.

You may also feel an increasingly powerful urge to tell her off. Resist that urge. Be the bigger person.

3. Bargaining. Bargaining and denial are best friends. They go on dates where they watch home movies of your defunct relationship wearing rose-colored glasses. They eat those disgusting salads with fruit and spinach mixed together in an unholy combination.

And they’ll have you believing that right amount of begging and some clever bargaining could bring that relationship roaring back to life.

Now you’re looking for any way to make this work: threats, negotiation, a deal with the devil for your soul for eternity…

Hollow promises (about changing things about you really don’t think are a problem but you lie anyway) leave you faster than you can write them down. Counseling, a second job, fewer hours at the office–they’re all declarations declared in a vain attempt to revive what’s already laying flat in a fridge wearing a toe tag.

If that doesn’t work, opt for a side of guilt with your corpse. Throw in the kids. Tell her about all the therapy they’ll need just to function like normal adults. Blame her.

Keep it up long enough, and she’ll see she was right to leave your crazy ass.

4. Depression.

This may manifest in different ways. Symptoms include (but aren’t limited to):

  • A lack of energy
  • A desire to sleep more often than normal
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of desire to do anything you had previously taken pleasure in.

Drug and alcohol abuse are common in people going through this stage. A permeating lack of hope may push you to miss days of work or duck out on pre-planned outings. Friends and family will grow noticeably concerned about your welfare, but you can’t muster the will to care.

You feel like you’re going to explode into a weeping puddle of emotion at any second. And you long for the sweet reprieve of death. Believing everyone would be better off without you around, you’re tired of burdening those around you with your problems.

If at any time you experience any of these symptoms, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline immediately at:

1-800-273-8255

24 hours a day, 7 days a week including holidays. The service is free to everyone, and your call is kept confidential.

Visit the National Institute of Mental Health’s site dedicated to suicide prevention for more information about depression and steps you can take to treat it. 

5. Acceptance. The last of the 5 stages of grieving a relationship takes the longest to reach. But once you get here, you start to feel like yourself again.

Here, in the land of “Wouldn’t trade nothing for my journey, now,” you are finally able to accept the relationship is over. You’re better off for it.

If you don’t agree you are, it’s at this stage that you are finally able to recognize that the only course of action is to move on. Let go of the past.

Your interests begin to return little by little. Friends may comment that you look better than you have in years. You find a renewed sense of purpose and may even take up new hobbies.

Final Thoughts

In the midst of the churning tide that is the five phases of this process, it may seem impossible that you will ever arrive at this sunlit place, but you will. A lingering sadness may occasionally pop up, but those days become few and far between.

In the end, you are focused on your own well-being and your bright future ahead.

Understanding how the break-up process affects us can help you overcome some of the more challenging parts of this experience by making them easier to navigate. Just remember, you can’t rush through any level of the grieving process. The best thing you can do for yourself is to allow yourself the right to pass through each stage all the while feeling your feelings. Processing them is the only way to keep the breakup from haunting you for years to come.

Related Posts

  • 49
    Preventing Divorce Four Ways to Protect Against Divorce and Achieve Emotional Intimacy Gender roles are changing. Men are as immersed in the care of hearth and home as their wives or partners. Although recent data claims divorce rates are falling, they still occur frequently. Gender equality in the home improves…
  • 45
    Relationship Death Resurrecting Yourself in the Age of Technology   I can’t see shit. Literally. The moment I take out my contacts I’m operating purely by The Force. I can’t imagine what life would be like if I’d been born in another time. Surely I’d have been a liability to…
  • 42
    How to Prevent Divorce Easy Actions You Can Take Now to Turn the Tides In Your Favor Anyone who has gone through a divorce, either the divorce of your parents or your own, wishes they had the secret to making a marriage work. If only marriage was like a math…
Deciding Who Gets Primary Custody

Deciding Who Gets Primary Custody

There was a time when family court judges automatically ruled in favor of the mother. While vestiges of this default primary custody bias may still be felt in some areas of the country, the tide is turning. More and more, courts of law no longer presume that mothers are more fit parents than fathers. In fact, the odds of a dad being able to prove that the child’s best bet for a full, safe and healthy life is for him to be the custodial parent is higher than ever. There are even states that have passed laws indicating that mothers will not be given preferential treatment in custodial disputes. 

While times are changing, the reality is still that mothers are more likely to get custody of minor children. As a divorcing dad, your best bet in a custody hearing is to know some of the factors that judges commonly consider in making decisions. There are also steps you can take to outline why you are the better parent.

Factors in Awarding Custody 

The first factor the courts look at is which parent is the primary caregiver. The term “primary caregiver” essentially refers to the parent who is best able to meet the child’s needs, who accepts the most parental responsibility and who has a history of primarily cared for the child. Which parent meets the child’s most basic needs? Who handles the feeding, doctor appointments, bedtime stories and bath time fun. Historically, women, even when they work full-time, are much more likely to take on the primary caregiver roles. So start taking on as many of these tasks as you’re able. The court will take into account your history of performing such tasks.

The second factor is the parent-child bond. What is your relationship with your child? Does your child miss you when you’re away? Have you spent time building a relationship with him or her.

They younger the child is the more strong the mother-child bond may be. This does not negate your effectiveness as a father, but it’s a result of more traditional parenting roles. Because mothers are conventionally the parent that primarily cares for the child from infancy to preschool, the closeness that develops is a different sort of bond than the one that is created between father and child. The more involved you have been in the rearing of a young child, the closer your overall bond will be.

In a lot of jurisdictions, many courts presume that kids will be kept emotionally whole and healthy by having a meaningful relationship with both parents. One of the primary factors taken under consideration is which parent is more likely to foster a healthy relationship between the children and the other parent. Any parent who has attempted to commit parental alienation — such as poisoning the child against the other parent, or refusing access to the child — will not fare well in any family court. And there are other extenuating circumstances, such as allegations of child abuse and instances of domestic violence, of course.

Try To Get Along With Your Ex 

If there is any way that you can maintain a civil or even amiable relationship with your ex, it can only help your custody and visitation chances. Maintaining this type of relationship, especially in front of your children, will only help them in the long run. It’s a well-documented fact that kids who come from divorced homes fare much better if they are not used as weapons of manipulation. Allow your kids to maintain a positive, healthy relationship with both parents. Speak only positively of your ex. Not only will it help you in court, but it really is what’s best for your children.

Consider a Fathers Rights Attorney 

If you’re hoping to be the custodial parent of your child, the best course of action is to first consult a family law attorney with experience in Fathers Rights. Because laws differ from state to state and family courts can be as unpredictable as the judges who preside over them, your attorney’s insight can become the most valuable tool you have at your disposal. He or she will have some insight into how certain judges will react in any given situation, and how they may lean in custody disputes. They can help you to build the strongest case possible.

Related Posts

  • 78
    Fathers Rights advocates understand that a man who is incarcerated does not bear the weight of his punishment alone. His family—especially those most dependent and vulnerable, his children—also suffer. Kids of imprisoned fathers face well documented adverse effects. Having a dad in jail or prison puts his kids at higher…
  • 59
    Like most details in dealing in a divorce, child visitation, and visitation rights, come with their own pitfalls. Thankfully, many of those are explicitly spelled out, if your state has set Child Parenting Time Guidelines (as my state calls them), or an equivalent thereof. These are set guidelines to give…
Are You Eligible for a Quickie Divorce?

Are You Eligible for a Quickie Divorce?

The decision to divorce is never an easy one. But when divorce is the only option, spending thousands on lawyers and spending months or years in a court battle isn’t necessary. If you and your spouse can work together, you might be able to get a quickie divorce

No Fault Divorce is Faster 

The waiting period for divorce differ from state to state. There are states that have practically no waiting period at all. Some have waiting periods of up to two years. Use our Divorce Law Summaries by State to get an idea of your local divorce requirements.

No fault divorces, where you and your spouse have reached an agreement on child custody and debt/property division are the most painless way to get divorced (if there is such a thing).

The following is a more detailed list of the topics you’ll need to discuss with your future ex before deciding if a do-it-yourself quickie divorce is right for your situation:

Property Distribution

Decide who gets what. This includes all personal and joint property you accumulated as a couple, and even before. Everything is on the table here. The items you should inventory include: household furnishings, bank and investment accounts, cars/recreation vehicles and real estate.

Debt Division

Debt should be divided according to ability to pay, who actually took on the debt, and the division of the property.

Alimony/Spousal Support 

If either you or your soon-to-be ex opted to leave the workforce in order to raise children, take care of a family member, or because of an illness or disability, alimony may be warranted. However, be very cautious when entering into an agreement to pay alimony or spousal support. Modifying such agreements can be tough.

Child Custody/Visitation/Holiday Schedule Arrangement

Decisions about who will be the custodial parent (the parent children live with for at least 51 percent of the time) how often the non-custodial parent will have access to the kids should be decided in advance. An outline of holidays and which parent will have the children on what day should also be outlined in advance.

Child Support

Non-custodial parents are obligated, by law, to pay child support to the custodial parents. To determine how much child support should be paid in your situation, check your state’s website for a child support worksheet or calculator.

Do the Paperwork 

In a quickie divorce, you and your spouse will have to work together to complete all the required forms and documents. The next step is to find state approved forms for uncontested divorces. To locate the proper forms, follow the steps below:

  • Simply Google  “[my state] divorce forms.” For example, if you live in Nevada, you would search “Nevada divorce forms.”
  • Contact your county clerk’s office. County representatives can guide you to the proper web sites to download the needed forms or inform you that you need to come to the office to obtain certain forms.

After you’ve completed all the necessary forms, go over the documents to make sure that you’ve followed all of the instructions, that each answer is as complete as possible. Be sue to print and use only black ink. If you have questions or issues in filling out the forms, you can contact your county clerk or contact the Bar Association to get contact information for low cost or pro-bono attorneys.

The next step is to file the forms with your family court. The forms should be filed in the county you reside in. You’ll need multiple copies of the forms. There will also be a filing fee which is different in each county.

Finalizing Your Quickie Divorce 

Uncontested divorces don’t usually require court appearances, but some counties may hold a brief hearing. Now it’s time to file your proposed final decree, along with any other documents your state requires. Once the judge signs it, a copy will be mailed to you. In most states, the time between filing and receiving the final decree is only a matter of weeks. The final decree indicates that you are officially divorced.

The process is rich in detail, and even the smallest mistake on a form or oversight in filing the correct form can lead to a delay. Be sure to look over the paperwork several times before filing, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to an attorney. Most are willing to give limited advice in filing, but don’t expect too much.

Divorce is painful enough. There are options out there for consenting adults to dissolve their union when they collectively decide to not make the process even more painful.

Related Posts

  • 80
    The Money Trap How NOT to spend money during your divorce So you’re in the middle of a divorce. Let’s say, just for fun, you’re probably not going to be the custodial parent, because even though you have a greater income, you’ve also spent most of your marriage working at…
  • 75
    Financially Preparing for Divorce A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst Gives the Dos and Don'ts   For individuals contemplating divorce, there are two significant dates to consider. They are January 1st and April 15th. Studies show these dates are the most common to start a divorce. Why? On January 1st, we're contemplating the…
  • 72
    The Divorce Process, Day Zero Preparing For Doomsday When asked about the best divorce advice for men, I instantly think about the importance of those first few days in the divorce process. Actions, agreements, and assumptions made at the beginning of the divorce process can easily come back and bite…
Stop Child Support and Go Directly To Jail

Stop Child Support and Go Directly To Jail

Why A lot of dads don’t understand the importance of paying child support consistently. More often than not, in fact, it’s hard to do so without harboring resentment towards the other parent.

Court Ordered Child Support Is Frustrating 

It can be a frustrating experience to be court ordered to fork over 18 percent of your annual pay to an ex. It’s harder still to do so without wondering if your hard earned money is actually being spent to better the life of your child.

Nevertheless, the overall well being of your child rests upon your willingness to contribute monetarily to their upbringing. Even if you view your ex as the enemy, try to remember that the money you pay towards child support is, in fact, given to provide for the child.

I may be a woman, but I’ve been fortunate enough to view this topic from both sides of the fence.

Is The Ex Blowing Your Money on Herself? 

I have plenty of male friends who have voiced their concerns on this topic. My dear friend Jesse, for example, was ordered to pay nearly $700 per month after a less than  harmonious split from his wife of nearly 15 years. “How do I know she’s not using my money to buy new boobs?” he once asked me. “I have no proof she’s using my money to better the life of my kid, and I have no way of holding her accountable.”

That’s a real and legitimate concern. I understand his frustration. “Let me put your mind at ease,” I told him. “The majority of moms aren’t using child support money to support their lifestyles.” I mean, let’s be honest here: the typical y monthly support payment, even saved over a number of years, isn’t going to fund a lavish yacht or car.

Raising Kids is Expensive 

Raising a kid is expensive. When you add up all of the basics, a parent is fundamentally required to provide for a child–food, shelter, warm clothing–the typical child support payment barely makes  a dent. Add in piano lessons, ballet, math tutoring, the occasional trip to a movie theater or a birthday party for eight kids, and you can see how assuming that your ex is using your money for anything other than meeting your child’s needs can get a little ridiculous. I’m not saying that abuse never occurs. I’m just saying that it’s rare. I speak from experience.

I’m the mother of a beautiful eight-year-old girl. Her father and I divorced when she was only 16 months old. He was ordered to pay $450 per month. Until recently, he rarely, if ever, paid anything. How did he avoid being fined or jailed? Simple. He took jobs that paid him under the table and he moved around a lot, from state to state.

As a young single mother, that money would have gone really far for me and my daughter. She missed out on things that would have made her life more enjoyable because I couldn’t afford the extras. I was keeping a roof over our heads. Tumbling lessons were out of the questions. That trip to the theater wasn’t going to happen. Fortunately, things haven’t been so tight over the past several years. But I’ve watched my daughter suffer because her father, the man who helped bring her into existence, was being selfish and saw paying his child support as a choice and not a priority.

Don’t do that to your kids. They really are the ones who suffer.

You Could End Up In Jail 

But if you need additional motivation, one of the primary reasons that you should never stop paying your child support is really for your own well-being. Negligent fathers are thrown in jail for failure to meet their obligation every single day. That’s a very real thing. Your ex could drag you back to family court where you will be forced to stand before a judge and explain your unwillingness to contribute to the monetary rearing of your child. You may get one or two chances to prove that you can pay regularly and on time, but beyond that, expect to serve some time.

If the reason for not making your support payments is a financial inability to meet your obligation, communicate that to both your ex and your court designated case worker.

If you live so far from your kids that you’re unable to interact with them on a regular basis, you should still pay your monthly obligation. If you can’t be there for them physically or emotionally, be there for them monetarily.

Do It For Your Child 

There are a million scenarios that can play out between parents and in your own life that might make meeting this obligation a struggle, but remember, court ordered child support payments are enforceable by many unpleasant means. But it shouldn’t take the threat of being jailed to motivate you. Love for your child should do that.

Related Posts

  • 71
    Consider me frustrated, frustrated at ‘the system’ and its persistence in going after deadbeat dads and their alleged child support arrears. Don’t get me wrong. Real deadbeats are the scourge of the human race for not taking financial responsibility for their offspring. And, as the mid-term elections are grinding to…
  • 66
    The Money Trap How NOT to spend money during your divorce So you’re in the middle of a divorce. Let’s say, just for fun, you’re probably not going to be the custodial parent, because even though you have a greater income, you’ve also spent most of your marriage working at…
  • 63
    When you get lemons, make lemonade. Ok, so you have a limited amount of time to spend with your child. Make the most of it when you can by bonding with your child. Your visitation is limited by court order to every other weekend and Tuesday and Thursday. Cool, do…
Getting Ready for Dating After Divorce

Getting Ready for Dating After Divorce

The precarious realm of modern dating after divorce can be beset with pitfalls and peril. The all-consuming horror show that is divorce can leave you feeling more like a zombie than a real person. Past hurts can make it seem impossible to ever be romantically interested in someone new.  Even a somewhat amicable split can leave you scarred and pessimistic regarding love, dating and rejoining the ranks of “single and looking.”

The Idea of Dating After Divorce Can Seem Daunting 

If the divorce was fraught with custody battles, alimony judgements, division of assets and overall nastiness, you may feel more inclined to sail the world alone rather than ever entertain the idea of putting yourself out there again. The idea of jumping back into the frigid waters of dating after a divorce can seem daunting.

I should know. I’ve been through this four times. That’s right, I said it: I have been married four times. If anyone is an expert at dating, it’s this girl right here.

So, what do you need to know? What is the modern dating scene really like? Does everyone meet online? What do those perils and pitfalls look like?

One of the most important things about reentering the dating world is to remember that being married changes you. Whether you were married for 10 months or 10 years, you cannot approach dating from the same head space you did in years past.

It’s Okay To Go Slow 

It’s okay to move slowly at first. Don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. If you’d prefer to dip your toes in the water rather than doing a dive bomb, that’s okay. Do a gut check. If you’d rather browse dating profiles anonymously online before creating a real profile, just to get your bearings, then do it. If you want to hit up a local singles hot spot with a good book and an inquisitive eye before talking to potential dates, do so. When you do reach out, remember not to focus on past hurts. Don’t constantly talk about your divorce or your ex. It’s a new day with new opportunities, including opportunities for dating after divorce. Embrace them.

Online Dating Is A Great Starting Place 

Upon reentering the dating world, one of the best places to start is online dating. In a world where 54% of couples report meeting online, I think it’s safe to assume that the majority of single people, even those who won’t cop to it, maintain an online dating profile. From the perspective of meeting new people, there’s really no medium that can compete.

Online dating doesn’t carry the stigma that it did even 10 years ago. At the risk of sounding like your high school alter ego: Everyone is doing it. There are a variety of online dating sites: Match.com, OkCupid.com, PlentofFish.com, EHarmony.com, and hundreds more. These sites have become one-stop shops for finding a mate.

The great thing about online dating after divorce is that you can literally pick and choose from thousands of profiles and photos. You can weed out potential dates by age, education or even interests. Dating no longer depends upon the serendipitous fates smiling down upon you in a grocery store aisle, causing you to bump into someone you are both attracted to and find interesting. Nope. Just fire up your laptop, log on your smartphone or browse profiles on your e-reader.

Tips for Creating a Profile 

When setting up your profile, think about what you’re hoping to get out of this dating experience. Are you into casual dating, looking for someone to travel with or hoping to meet the next love of your life? Sites like OkCupid and Match offer a space on the dating profile where users can indicate what they’re looking for. It’s important to be as honest as possible in your profile. Post a recent photo–one taken in the last year. Don’t fudge your height, weight or job status. If you are currently separated but not yet divorced, be sure to indicate that in you profile stats.  If you are between jobs, say so. It’s fine to focus on the positives, but don’t lie. It’s better to be up front in the beginning then to go on a few dates with someone, decide you really like them and have them dump you because they don’t feel you’ve been forthcoming.

Each platform engages users in a different way. Some offer paid memberships, while others are free. The common theme amongst each one, however, is that users can communicate with one another via private  message.

Be Careful With Online Communications 

There are a few things to remember about communicating with people online. First, be careful not to divulge too much personal information. No need to tell someone you just met the name of the company you work for. If they ask you to specify where you’re from, indicating a section of town is fine.

Second, if you click with someone through email ask to move the conversation offline. If you’re dealing with someone who refuses to talk to you on the phone, end the correspondence. There’s a good chance that the person is not who they are representing themselves to be. Additionally, emailing in online dating forums can turn into a never ending debacle of pointless missives. If you’re interested in getting to know someone, the sooner you can move the relationship out of the virtual world and into the real one, the better.

Online dating has advantages and disadvantages, like anything else. Brave souls who have traversed the cyber-terrain in search of love or a dinner date sometimes find that online dating is not for them, and that’s okay.  I know what you’re thinking: don’t people meet in person anymore?

People do still meet organically. If you’re looking to connect with someone you have common interests with, I suggest visiting Meetup.com, a website that matches people according to their interests. You can join a group interested in writing, karate, coding–just about anything you can imagine. Most “clubs” meet at least once a month. It’s a stellar opportunity to interact with new people. Who knows. You may meet someone who catches your eye.

Put Yourself Out There 

There’s also the old stand by: wait for fate to intervene. Put yourself out there. Visit your favorite coffee house. Go to concerts with your friends. Stop in at your favorite watering hole for a solo drink.

The important thing is to be open to new experiences. It’s a big world out there.  Open yourself up to the possibilities. Time for you to join the ranks of the living.


(c) Can Stock Photo / martinan

Related Posts

  • 81
    File for an Online Divorce Are eDivorces Really a Thing and Three Ways to Get One The 21st Century is all about saving time and convenience. We can get married in Las Vegas through a drive-through. We shop online for grocery deliveries, pay our bills and bank online, and do many…
  • 69
    Dating. It seems easy enough. You’ve done it before.  You can do it again, right? Dating after divorce can't be that hard.Perhaps you’re a bit rusty and you need to get some kinks out, get some air in those tires and figure out if you can still keep your balance.…
  • 67
    The ink on the divorce has been dry for some time now, and you’re finally in a position mentally to reenter the world of dating. It’s been a while since your last date, and meeting new women can feel awkward at first. Here are the top 5 essential tips for…