is by its very nature, emotionally painful. It is the end of something that
began with a milestone event in life – marriage, usually a time of happiness,
hopefulness, and great expectations.
Even if right now you are at the point of “I can’t wait for it to be
over,” there will probably be feelings of sadness, anger, grief and possibly even a sense of failure as
you go through it and when it is done.
The level of grief may even be similar to how you might feel at the
death of a loved one. These are all very
natural and normal reactions and virtually everyone who has gone through a
divorce experiences them - no matter what they say out loud; not everyone
experiences these emotions at the same level or in the same way, however.
Social and Family Network Effects
will be upheaval in your social circles as well. Family relationships on both sides will
almost certainly be strained; friendships may end depending on who friends are
closer to; work relationships may suffer as you deal with the ongoing turmoil (especially
if you have to miss work for multiple court dates, attorney meetings, etc.) and
your workmates try to deal with you. If
you have children, your relationship to them will change drastically and most
likely unpredictably as they also try to come terms with the changes.
Effects on Children
As a therapist, I have seen the emotional effects of divorce
on children and into their adult lives.
As you might imagine, the problems that children experience are related
to how much stress and anger they were exposed to by their parents as well as
by how their parents treated each other during the divorce. Custody
issues that are openly contested in front of children can be devastating to them
in the short and long run, no matter what their age.
Many children feel the
divorce was somehow their fault, that they have to “choose sides,” or are not
wanted especially if the custody "battle" involves saying things like "your mother/father only wants you so she/he doesn't can collect child support (sadly, children and adults have told me in therapy they heard these types of things during the divorce).
They may also wind up feeling incredibly
angry at the parent who wouldn’t allow contact with the other parent (again, I have heard that children were told for years that the other parent didn't want them when this was not at all true.)
Note:If safety is a valid concern,
then safeguards absolutely have to be in place for contact with the
potentially violent parent, regardless of how the child may feel about
Using mediation will not prevent children from
having emotional reactions to the divorce. But, since you won’t be involved in
“fighting” over your divorce, it will hopefully keep the anger out of the
day-to-day interactions with your children, allow for the opportunity to make
joint rational decisions that are truly in their best interests, and provide a structured parenting plan. As
a parent and therapist, I can tell you with full confidence
that the use of this structure will go a long way to begin to alleviate their
inevitable fear, sadness and anger.
Anger and Its Effects
adversarial process will introduce higher levels of anger and stress into your
life as you argue/fight over details of the divorce settlement. Over time both of you will become less likely to
“give-in,” cooperate or compromise.
Anger may look like a more attractive alternative to grief and sadness,
but it is not a more "understandable" emotion for your friends and family to deal with and it will neither replace nor drive away your grief and sadness.
Anger may provide some temporary respite from your
grief and sadness but these emotions will return and probably when you least expect it.
What is more likely to occur is that the anger will amplify and
heighten your other feelings of grief, sadness, and failure - each “round” of
fighting over the settlement will be reminders of what you are losing and have