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Divorce Rollercoaster

Death, moving house and divorce are among the most stressful life events you can go through. The pain of separation can be very similar to the rollercoaster of grief. Relief, guilt, failure and freedom are just some of the many feelings you may experience when your relationship ends. It can feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster, especially when you go through very different feelings very quickly. There is no way around it. People can tell you that these emotions come and go, and that, with time, they become less intense, and they are right. And yet, it’s hard to take comfort in their advice when the roller coaster is throwing you this way and that way, up and down, and you are just trying to hang on.

The image describes some of the emotions people may experience when going through a divorce. It can start with denial and shock, fear and confusion, through to anger and blame, shame and anxiety and depression and helplessness. The divorce journey can be a time of reflection, looking back through a marriage, at the things you could and couldn’t change. It is also a time of realisation and coming to terms with the new reality, even for someone who wanted the relationship to end, as there is still change and loss. What people don’t always realise when they are in this dark place is that there will be more positive stages to come on their journey. The stage of dialogue and bargaining arrives, acceptance follows and a plan for a fulfilling new future can be made.

When couples separate they, and indeed their children, experience grief, as they are living through a loss. As described, they can experience a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s also important to remember that you and your ex-partner may not be in the same stage in your emotional journeys. For example if you’ve been thinking about separation for a while and have ideas about how to work things out then you’re probably on the upward part of your loss journey. Whereas the partner you are separating from may still be angry and at a different stage in their journey. Be patient with yourself and them. It helps you both to work together better if you can recognise this difference.

Making decisions and supporting your children while you’re experiencing such a rollercoaster of emotions can be challenging. Sometimes, the simplest way of doing this is to make sure that you’re taking good care of yourself. Only when you feel good will it be easier to make decisions and to support your children.

Taking Care of Yourself

What has worked in the past? Think about what has made you feel better during other difficult times. It could be sleeping more, talking to friends or family, exercise etc. Try your tactic again.

Treat yourself. It can be good for you to allow yourself some time to do something that’s purely for you. Think about what you enjoy, it could be time spent on a hobby, seeing friends, doing a fun activity with your children, having a soak in the bath, taking a long walk or reading a good book.

Think positively. For the next week spend a moment before you go to bed to write down something that you’re grateful for, or something that brought you joy that day. Find something different every night.

Sorting things out

Some services that are available to couples to resolve their differences arising from separation, such as court, do not help address this rollercoaster and can sometimes make things worse. This is because they are adversarial and tend to promote animosity and holding onto positions. Court proceedings may feel attractive to the angry blaming person as they offer a legitimate outlet for their fury.

In contrast mediation is an opportunity to listen, to try and understand each other, be mutually respectful and to compromise. If you’re mad as fire, this will be unappealing. But eventually the rollercoaster will arrive at bargaining and talk. You will be ready to sort it out and move on. It may be in the middle of court proceedings, it may be some other time but when you get to that point, suddenly all the fighting and messing about seems utterly pointless, a complete waste of time and money. Everything can be sorted out, agreed and put behind you, you can move on from the conflict of the past and through dialogue and bargaining to acceptance and to a new and brighter future. You will have to come up the other side of the rollercoaster and will be able to look back with relief on the journey you’ve accomplished and be glad it is behind you.

Nothing is so focused on getting you both to that point as mediation is. Think about it. Or call us on 01670 528441 or email us at for more information or to book a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

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