Divorce – what does the word ‘Divorce’ really mean?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “the action or an instance of legally dissolving a marriage” (Merriam Webster, 2017).
Divorce does indeed involve the legal action of “dissolving a marriage” but there are many other things involved in the process that adds to the difficulty we have going through a divorce. All divorces have three distinct moving parts that increase the stress levels of couples during the process. If you can understand the three parts and how they come together, you’ll be able to manage things a bit better and that can be very helpful.
- First, and the most familiar aspect of divorce, for most people, is the legal process of actually moving from ‘married’ to ‘divorced’. The legal process is usually somewhat mysterious and misunderstood as you enter a separation and almost everyone, from Aunt Doris to the lady next door, will have ideas to share on how it works. Please stick to the facts and remember that divorce in Canada is “no-fault” so the legal aspects of divorce are strictly a business transaction.
- The second part of the divorce process involves the many changes that take place. All areas of life usually change a great deal, and all this change happens simultaneously. Change during a separation and divorce is so massive, it can easily overwhelm you and your ex-partner, so recognizing the changes and planning ahead as best you can will help you decrease your stress levels, remain amicable with your ex-partner, and keep things working better as a divorcing family.
- The third part of divorce is the emotional upheaval for everyone involved. The difficult emotions are usually underestimated until people have started the process. Emotions during a divorce can be very intense and are absolutely normal. Understanding how the emotional process unfolds will help keep your relationship more manageable as it changes from spouse to ex-spouse. If you can understand where you are and where your partner is in the process, you can both be more sensitive to each other and things will go better for both of you.
If you map out these three areas, and keep them as distinct and separate as possible, it really can help you manage better.
1+3 = The legal process being highjacked by emotions is the most common and volatile problem in divorce. You really need to keep your decision-making skills from being led by your emotions. The legal process can be thought of like business transactions and being highly emotional will make agreement difficult to reach, which will add both time and cost to the divorce process.
1+2 = The legal process and change add up to difficult situations too. If you can map out all the changes that need to happen – like moving for example – and decide how to look for the positive opportunities, the legal decisions will be easier to make and can lead you in the direction you choose. Remember that change is a big part of the process and the legal system is not to blame for all the changes. The changes really are a result of the relationship breakdown.
2+3 = The changes and the emotions when put together lead to the overwhelming aspects of divorce. Changes that need to happen can be mapped out and planned, and if you try to also map out the expected emotional journey and allow time to get used to the needed changes, things will go a little better. Especially for any children involved! Give yourself and your ex-partner time to adjust and try to control the direction and speed of the changes.
Divorce, although always difficult, can be a period of self-exploration, tremendous personal growth and empowerment – if you are open to the opportunities.
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All the best,