A divorce has a beginning and an ending. In many instances, how ‘Couple A’ separated will not be the same as ‘Couple B’. However, there are similarities in marriage as well as signs of a troubled marriage that can make one understand that divorce has psychological phases.
The first stage is usually the blame phase. Any of the spouses will blame the other for all occurrences that have happened in their lives. These occurrences can be in the past or present. Sometimes, it is even a future problem that a spouse fears might happen if an issue is not resolved. Some partners blame their child for a headache and poor finances while some blame their spouse for a bad dream. This blame stage is severe when one spouse has a bad or undesirable image of his or her partner.
The aggrieved partner will look depressed and sad many of the times the couple is together. The self-esteem of the aggrieved partner will gradually reduce. It will be very easy for friends, relations and those in his or her social circle to discover with a single look that the aggrieved partner is depressed or is constantly happy. Some aggrieved partners may hide their physical feeling from their faces or as in the case of women, wear make-up as a disguise.
Deep-seated hurt are hidden in different ways. Some people might begin to go shopping, wearing better clothes, proving to everyone around them that they are indeed happy and are not going through the blame phase caused by the other partner. The characteristics of a spouse going through the psychological effect depend on who is originating the blame. The originator is trying to hide or is in a quest for relief from the pain and stress caused by the partner. This desire for relief will cause the partner anger and low self-esteem as the partner behaves like there is nothing wrong. In response to the act of the originator, the non-originator can often describe the originator as tenacious, stubborn, insensitive or going through a difficult stage that requires being calm.
At times, the originator does not want a divorce neither is the originator interested in separation. The non-originator might wait patiently for the originator to get tired and so depressed that he or she will have no other reason but get a divorce. In this blame stage, the non-originator hears words like, “This relationship is over,” “I do not want to continue,” “I will like some time off.”
The non-originators act like they are not going for divorce as a solution but they will keep on nursing divorce and keep on with the act that causes the originator to feel they need to separate. For example, Mr. A is constantly cheating on his wife. Mrs. A is tired of the infidelity that her husband doesn’t seem to want to stop. Mr. A is making excuses that he is working on himself to stop or that he can’t help it or that the reason for his infidelity is because he is not getting satisfied by Mrs. A. In reality, Mr. A does not want a divorce.
He is only waiting for Mrs. A to get so tired, angry and frustrated that she will have no other solution but insist on the divorce. This will give Mr. A leverage to say to his children that he didn’t call for a separation, but their mum’s insistence is what broke the family. Mr. A might make decisions on asset sharing, leaving no settlement for Mrs. A and taking control of everything they both worked for. Usually, the blame phase is the most difficult of all the psychological stages of divorce because there is a feeling of uncertainty and fear of the unknown by the two individuals involved.
It is when partners feel they will hit rock bottom if they are not careful or do not act fast. Children suffer a lot in this stage because both parents are constantly shouting, abusing each other, hitting each other, and showing no signs of tolerance. They will barely have time for their wards. Their work and lifestyle will also gradually suffer.
The second psychological stage is when the initiator starts to accept that he or she is better off without the partner. Some psychologists say it is similar to when a partner dies and the other partner has to gradually accept that life must go on. The originator has accepted that the relationship will defiantly come to an end. The originator is in a state of constant grief. The originator is usually drowned by this devastating feeling of having to start life over again.
The grief felt makes the originator to constantly wish the relationship never started. Many times, the originator’s family or child might not know the magnitude of the grief the originator is experiencing. The originator might still be hiding the grief with facades like makeup, nice dresses, shoes, constant shopping, alcohol or excessive drinking, trying out different restaurants, engaging in activities everyone thought he or she could not do, and constantly pretending to those around that there is nothing wrong going on. The originator starts getting ready to not be referred to as Mrs. anymore.
At this stage, while the originator or aggrieved is mourning the loss of a relationship, there are chances that he or she will become more self-opinionated and sensitive to many comments about the partner and relationship. All statements by people and partners are seriously looked into. Most innocent comments are translated as criticism, lacking in understanding, and insensitive to their emotions, needs, and affections.
These individuals are usually engrossed with the way people are treating them or will treat them if they sense they are about to have a fall out in their relationship. They will make attempts to be defensive by letting people who seem to care know that their feelings are very important. The originator is yearning for support or a shoulder to lean on but a defense mechanism is the best way to let everyone believe that they are strong and can handle whatever life throws at them.
Also, the method of training a child or parenting is reduced to the barest because they are engrossed with themselves first, trying to find a reason or possibility of adjusting their lives again. Concentration might be difficult for the originator mostly because he or she is constantly lost in a dilemma of thoughts and personal feelings. A parent might also struggle for child custody with the hope that when s(he) keeps the child, s(he) might get the partner to come back and continue with the relationship.
It is only in a few cases that the originator will resist the child because he or she believes that the child has identical characteristics of the partner. This struggle of who will keep the child normally escalates to a serious legal battle.
At stage three, both the originator and non-originator are angry. Although it is possible to see the anger in every stage of the divorce, this time it is categorical. The anger is channeled towards the spouse, family, and life in general. Most people seem to be angry with men, naming them all dogs. Most men will also seem to classify all women as stupid. This stage is marked by verbal abuse and is disturbing to people around any of the partners.
Some partners smoke out the stage or drink it off. Some solicit ‘one-night stands’ to quench their anger. The aggrieved usually don’t feel they are to blame for the issues that have made the pre-conflict divorce to arise. The self-righteousness begins to grow as the aggrieved spouse or both partners consider each other as bad. A constant dissatisfaction upon merely hearing the spouse’s voice is very evident. Research has shown that when couples are in this stage, it takes at least eight to twelve months before a divorce is initiated.
Some couples might want to remedy the situation by going for a marriage counseling session or trying to repeat their honeymoon experience with the hope of rejuvenating the relationship. Most couples are doubtful that any practice, event or activity embarked upon will wipe the thoughts, feelings or allow them to forgive what had transpired.
Most psychologists are successful in managing a relationship in this stage because the energy levels of each individual are high when they go for a trip to reignite their bond. The spouses have a better chance of taking care of their children and most times, if the partner forgives and decides to give the relationship, the last try, the other spouse will do his or her best to pick up and make the partner feel that they were meant to be together forever. If not for any other reason, at least for the children.
Parents that are not completely selfish will agree and decide to move on with their lives and relationship because of their children. Some parents, however, will not agree especially because they have experienced physical abuse they never want to taste again.
Couples progress to the fourth stage when they have firmly decided to divorce. In some cases, this happens within six to twelve months before the legal process is initiated. The aggrieved party has felt victimized by the other party. S(he) feels resentment no matter how much the partner tries to make the aggrieved feel better. The aggrieved also feels impatient with anything or decision by the other partner. Blame, anger, and mourning over the loss of the relationship abounds. An extramarital affair is also very likely at this stage. The aggrieved partner might decide to create a huge emotional barrier to any attempt at healing the ruined relationship.
They might take to sharing their relationship status on the media especially when they have moved out from their marital home awaiting the divorce proceedings. The media tends to showcase the divorce of celebrities and popular people in order to get views. As the media does this with either positive or negative intentions, it is often impossible for the couples to reconcile their differences.
Some spouses begin a single life, convinced they do not need their partners to feel complete. Their self-image might improve out of satisfaction that the divorce case has been officially initiated. During any of the meetings with their lawyers or spouses, they often feel the need to show their anger, hatred, and detestation over the experiences they endured under their partners. The tussle for child custody might reduce pending final court decisions and the re-establishment of parenting. The parties tend to be judgmental towards their partners and their children. They are also firm about their decisions.
The most difficult is the sixth stage: the settlement of the divorce case. This puts each partner in a state where they adjust to their emotional and physical situation completely. They settle down, regain confidence in making decisions, regain their sense of power and control, map out their goals for the near future, start a new career or identity and discover new talents and abilities that had been dormant within them. The separated partners’ mood seem to be elevated. They make long-term commitments that will benefit their children, families and social circles and come to a conclusion on how the divorce settlement will be.
This stage gives at least one partner a sense of relief and a positive look at what lies ahead. A partner that feels cheated or is still in love with the other partner might however not be able to move on with his or her life.
Read “What Does The Psychology Professor Say About Divorce: Divorce Or Not?” at https://drkhimgoh.com/shop/