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Emotional divorce: dissolving the psychological marriage

Although you have made the decision to end your marriage, it is also important to take time to understand the stages of divorce beyond the legal steps. In order to move on, you and your former spouse need time to disentangle from each other emotionally. Those who fail to do so increase their risk of a subsequent divorce, as well as long-term negative impacts to their children and themselves.

Ending the legal relationship is just one part of divorce

Understanding emotional divorce allows you to be present in an emotionally healthy way with your children and heal your own mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Those who neglect to do the work may continue acting out the same emotional patterns that plagued the marriage, negatively impacting the children, themselves and any new partners or children. To move on and be genuinely happy in the future, emotional unbonding is of paramount importance.

Emotional divorce is a grieving process

Healing from divorce requires grieving. It is not unlike the grief experienced following the death of a loved one, although it often manifests in different forms. You have lost the marriage and family that you hoped to create with your partner. That is a life-changing loss, and there is no shame in acknowledging that. Working through the stages of grief can be done on your own, but sometimes you may also need the assistance of a mental health professional or support group

Disengagement and grieving are important to avoid continuing your marital battles over power, intimacy, trust and betrayal. Avoiding this places your child or children in a loyalty bind, torn between you and your ex. Parents who are legally divorced but remain psychologically and emotionally married can make things more confusing for children. 

Moving ahead requires boundary setting

In order to move ahead following divorce, it is important to acknowledge that the relationship you had with your former spouse must dramatically change. Some tips include:

  • Only engage in brief communication regarding the children, keeping the tone business-like and to the point.
  • Act like a guest in their home, and treat them like one in yours. Your respective homes are yours and yours alone.
  • End communication that becomes heated or emotional, do not allow it to escalate. Return to discuss the issue after tempers have cooled.
  • Protect your privacy. You can no longer confide in your former partner about what you are doing, or your hopes, wishes, or fears: stay out of each other's lives. You are not friends nor should you be continuing your support role as a husband or wife.

There are many more strategies and suggestions out there to assist you in the transition, as each situation is unique and carries its own set of challenges.

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Hecht Family Law
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Alpharetta, GA 30004

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