The Emotional Divorce


There is a definitive pattern to the process of divorce. It starts with a period of marital difficulty that results in the decision to separate.

The legal process itself has a wide degree of conflict associated. Following this is a period in which coping with the day-to-day is complicated by a sense of loss or even helplessness.

Struggling to master their new situations, people strive to become self-sufficient and competent. Within 18 months, a degree of emotional equilibrium is established.1

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published a groundbreaking book in 1969 entitled On Death and Dying (Macmillan, 1969) in which she identified the five phases most people go through when dealing with death:

Stage 1: Denial
Stage 2: Anger
Stage 3: Bargaining
Stage 4: Depression
Stage 5: Acceptance

What’s that got to do with divorce?

Well, many of the experts who have to deal with divorce suggest that the same five stages apply since couples are experiencing the “death” of their relationship.


1 Stewart, Abigail, and Anne Copeland, Nia Lane Chester, Janet Malley, Nicole Barenbaum, Separating Together, how divorce transforms families (the Guildford Press, 1997) p. 69





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