Emotional Divorce Process

The Emotional Divorce Process: A marriage does not break down overnight

Consider the Emotional Divorce Process. It takes time for the relationship to deteriorate.  Many believe that the breakdown happens when people do not put their marriage first and fail to nurture it as something very intimate and very important. Often they early signs of discontent go unchecked, and negative intimacies cloud the spouses’ interactions.

There is no research that indicates how long it takes a marriage to break down; the length of time differs with every couple.  But after a period of discontent, incompatibility, arguments, and predominantly destructive behaviors, one spouse begins to consider the possibility of divorce.  For purposes of this discussion, we will consider the divorce process and refer to this person as Spouse Y and to the other Spouse Z.

 1) After some time passes, Spouse Y makes a decision to divorce. 

This is a private decision, not yet shared with Spouse Z.  Spouse Y may exhibit distancing behaviors, moving emotionally and psychologically away from Spouse Z.  Spouse Y may no longer be engaging in arguments or fights with Spouse Z and may even show relief or happiness at having made the decision.  These behaviors may be misinterpreted by Spouse Z – who has been in denial all along – as evidence that the relationship is improving.

2) More time passes, and Spouse Y decides to act on the decision to divorce by telling spouse Z. 

Spouse Z reacts with shock, anger, or fear, or by staying in denial.  Spouse Z may fell much like “a deer caught in the headlights.”

It is not unusual for Spouse Y to be building a new life while Spouse Z is hoping for a miracle that will save the marriage.  If you find yourself in this situation, talk to your professionals at CDPINE about the availability of marriage-closure counseling.  If you identify with Spouse Y, please have some patience.  You have been thinking about divorce for a long while, and your spouse needs a little time to catch up.  If you identify with Spouse Z, try to understand that the train is leaving the station and that you better be on it.

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