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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Surviving Divorce


Term Definition Surviving Divorce - a tough set of marching orders.
Application in Divorce For most people who made a good faith effort at making a marriage work, a divorce is a forced march over barren terrain. Surviving this, in short, is a tough set of marching orders.

When a couple have been married a few years, they become part of each other, even in marriages gone south. Divorce pulls this apart, and leaves two people wounded and bleeding for a time. Paradoxically, divorcing couples sometimes do not realize how much they have become part of each other until they divorce.

Very often one spouse has an edge of sorts in that he or she begins to emotionally divorce his or her partner long before announcing intentions to end the marriage. In this sense, a private divorce precedes the public divorce. Yet once the divorce goes public and the couple get started with the mechanics of a marital settlement, both spouses find themselves alone on rocky terrain.

Pain and suffering are natural and inescapable consequences of any divorce. Sadness and anger, fear and anxiety, sorrow and denial -- all are incremental themes and refrains that find reiteration in a divorce.

There is no single right way to survive a divorce; there is no universal right way to start over. A person does it by doing it. Anything within reason that gets a person through the day is perfectly acceptable, but even with help such as counseling and support groups, the emotional part of divorce survival is a self-help project. In the early stages of a divorce, getting through the day often seems no small accomplishment.

Surviving divorce is like surviving the death of a loved one. A divorcing couple moves through stages very similar to those described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, in her landmark On Death and Dying. These steps are 1) denial and isolation, 2) anger, 3) bargaining, 4) depression and 5) acceptance.

What makes surviving a divorce difficult is that at the very time a person goes through emotional upheaval, personal dislocation and psychological laceration, he or she must make practical decisions that can have long-term ramifications.

One the practical side, when the decision to end the marriage has been made, a spouse should gather every piece of financial information about what the couple own and what they owe, both as a couple and individually.

And all of this ignores the innocent third parties -- the children. A divorcing couple are no longer spouses; they remain parents for life, and they are actively involved in the lives of their children. Surviving a divorce includes the recognition that parenthood is unfinished business that continues long after a court ends the marriage.

Even when divorce ends a marriage gone terribly wrong, a divorce does not make people happy. Happiness, such as it is, is something that happens after the bad marriage ends, not because the bad marriage ends.

See Divorce Forums; Divorce Recovery; Divorce Support Groups; Attorney and Client; After Divorce (Cleanup) and After Divorce (Emotional Aspects); Getting Started; Starting Over.

See also Relocation (Removal) of a Minor Child; Modification; Change in Circumstance; Imputed Income; Child Support; Alimony; Spousal Support.

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