Emotional Stages of Divorce

Emotional Stages of Divorce

Divorce is an event that nobody wants to go through. It is a legal process full of emotions. You may be happy one minute, and then sad the next. You may spend a whole day depressed and stuck in bed, until one day, you decide to accept your situation and move on.

There are many reasons why ending your marriage can be so emotional. To some, divorce is still considered taboo, even though roughly half of all marriages end in divorce. Divorce is also seen by some as a failure. If you divorce, you end your marriage, which means you failed to some degree. Your marriage was not a success that lasted “until death do you part.”

Divorce can also be scary. For some people, it may be the first time living on their own in many years—or their first time ever. Those who make little money or are stay-at-home parents may be concerned about what life will look like after a divorce. Some may have relied on their spouses financially, so once the marriage ends, so will their financial dependence. Their standard of living will change. They will likely have to get a job to pay for their expenses. These lifestyle changes can be difficult to bear in this economy.

You may also be feeling angry. You may be mad at your spouse for his or her behavior, particularly if your spouse did something bad such as cheat on you or abuse you. These are common reasons for divorce. You may also be angry about the divorce because you are still in love with your spouse and do not want to end the marriage.

A person going through a divorce will not likely accept the situation overnight. It takes time to go through the various emotional stages of a divorce. Even if you were the one who initiated the split with your spouse, there is likely some degree of sadness or regret on your part. For the most part, there are five stages of grief that a person will go through when ending a marriage.


Denial is common at first. You may not believe what is happening. You may not think that your marriage is really over. You may pretend like there is nothing wrong and that all is well. While denial can help you get through all the legal issues that arise in the beginning, you will need to progress through the other stages of grief at some point.


Once you move out of denial and accept that your marriage is indeed ending, you may start to feel angry. You may be upset over everything your spouse has done. You may begin to panic, especially if the divorce was unexpected and came out of nowhere. You may be in shock. You may be feeling strong emotions right now and feel like you cannot cope. This shock and anger may quickly turn to fear. Everything seems to be falling out of place, and you may be scared of the future. The good news is that these feelings will not last forever.


At this stage, you still have hope that your marriage can be saved. You may want your spouse back. You may attempt to repair your marriage and undo all the damage that has been done. If you were the one who initiated the divorce, you may be unsure about your decision. You may be feeling regretful. Get past these feelings and move on.


At this stage, you may be feeling depressed or like you are on a roller coaster of emotions. You may feel unsettled. You may be feeling fine and then suddenly cry for no reason. You may spend days in bed or on the couch watching TV. You may be hopeful and optimistic one minute to utter sadness and despair the next minute. You may start putting all the blame on yourself.


Once you reach this stage, you are at the point of letting go. You have accepted the fact that your marriage is over and you are ready to move on with your new life. You realize that divorce does not define you, and you are feeling optimistic about your new life after divorce. You are no longer focusing on the past. Instead, you are open to new interests and excited about what the future holds. You still may be sad and fearful, but you are not focusing on these feelings.

What to Keep in Mind

Everyone grieves differently. You may go back and forth between stages. Some people skip stages entirely. This is normal. While there is no specific timeline for going through these stages, you should not spend too much time grieving your loss. Just like grieving a loved one, it is important to move on after you have processed your grief.

Therapy with a professional can be helpful after a divorce. Even if you have a support group with friends and family members, talking to a professional who can give solid advice is the best way to move on and better understand your feelings.

Seek Legal Help

Just like dealing with the death of a loved one, people also grieve the loss of their marriage in divorce. It is the end of a relationship that may have lasted for many years or even decades. You are losing all the aspects of the relationship and you may be scared of being lonely for the rest of your life.

Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler can help you move through the legal and emotional stages involved in a divorce. Get the assistance you need today so you can move on. To schedule a consultation, call our office at (954) 346-6464.