A Philosophical View on Divorce Recovery
The world does not stop when two people end their marriage. Divorce often creates sleepless nights and days filled with worry and woes, but life still must go on. Though someone may feel like the divorce is the center of the universe, he or she must still show up to work each day, make dinner for the kids, and go about the mundane business of life. A homemaker may suddenly be back in the workforce after years of being the stay-at-home spouse, trying to do it all while barely holding it together.
The ancient Greeks believed that the reward of suffering is experience, yet experience can make a person its victim. Divorce recovery, in the end, means acceptance and the ability to go forward. The ability to keep a perspective, and a sense of humor - even a dark one - helps, but in the end people recover by putting one foot in front of the other and living.
For most people who made a good faith effort at making a marriage work, a 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, including denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
All of this ignores the innocent third parties who are victims - the children. Divorcing parents may no longer be spouses, but 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.
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.
"Time," as Thomas Jefferson said in a letter written in connection with the death of his wife, "is the Great Physician." The same is true for divorce.
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