No-one brings casseroles around when you separate from your partner. Yet if your husband or wife died, the support would be almost overwhelming. Why do we not realise that the loss of a marriage is an incredibly traumatic event? Whether we have initiated the end or we are the one who has been rejected, it is an extraordinarily painful time, filled with a whole bag of mixed and difficult emotions.

How to cope in the early days

Initially, a decision to separate or divorce can be a relief. Finally, a decision is made and you feel like you can begin to move on. However, soon what happens is an intense feeling of confusion and other strong and overwhelming feelings set in. You need to know that relationship breakdowns send us into survival mode. Click To Tweet We either get into fight (anger, blame, judgment and rage) or maybe flight (escape in some form  – running away from your feelings, numbing yourself out with alcohol / drugs  / expensive holidays etc) or freeze ( you feel frozen and numb inside, or have panic attacks, feel stuck and become unable to make any decisions at all.)

Often you will lurch back and forth between all of these states. Know that this is completely normal. You are in the lizard part of your brain and in survival mode. Separation and divorce pose a severe threat to our attachment system. Our basic human instinct for a safe person to be close to, we are pack animals and this is a substantial threat to us on all levels. In this confused state, it is very hard to make rational long-term life changing decisions.

The very best you can do is get and give yourself comfort. Try and consistently reassure yourself that what you are feeling is chaotic and awful but to be expected and it will pass.  Then try as much as you can to slow things down.  Slow down how much you are doing, decisions you need to make and the urgency with which you need to change your life.

Often I see people want to rush the moving out, the sale of the family home, the move interstate, the leaving of a job. I get it, this is all an opportunity to take control and bring about some certainty. However, usually, you may not be in the greatest frame of mind to make life changing decisions, so the more you can give yourself some time to adjust, the easier it will be to make the decisions that will serve you best.

Make uncertainty your friend – you’re going to need it!

The next important thing to know is that you are also actually suffering from feeling intense uncertainty. Of course, you won’t like not knowing ~

  1. Where am I going to live?
  2. How are we going to share the care of the kids?
  3. What money am I going to have to live on?

The human brain hates uncertainty and threat, so it will rush to create a new certainty, even if it is not a good one. You have to bear the feeling of being uncertain and not knowing. Easier said than done. This takes quite a lot of courage. Comforting yourself that you will work things out, allowing time to feel helpless and overwhelmed, and just going easy on yourself will be best. This is the time to tell that inner critic inside to stand down. This is the time to tell yourself   You’ve got time.” 

Going to court is not the only option

Another thing to understand is that going to Court is NOT the only choice when it comes to the practicalities of separation or property settlement. It is only one of the four options available to you. If you are at the point where you need more practical advice check out this blog.

Obviously, I believe much can be resolved if you can stay in couples counselling and work towards agreement about practical arrangements.  However, if this is not possible you need to be supported to get the appropriate mediation to assist. Many practical and financial decisions become highly emotive, so assistance to create calm, rational conversations between you can pay off hugely both emotionally and financially if both parties can find a way to use this approach.

Choose the right support network to get you through

Some people are incredibly private and don’t want to talk a lot about what is happening in their intimate relationships. Others overshare. You will know who are the right people to support you through the first few months. Choose wisely who you confide in. People who have been through it before are often great at empathising about what you are going through. However, if they have been scarred badly and are jaded, they may not be what you need. Others may give you constant advice. Or be overly negative.

You need people that are able to listen, hang out with you in whatever state you are in and understand where you are at. Friends and family can be great if they truly get it and can stay positive.  If they don’t, then you may feel more comfortable with a counsellor or psychotherapist who can provide understanding, empathy and objectivity. Someone skilled at helping you slow down, and bear the pain of what is coming up.

When you don’t need the casseroles anymore what have you learnt?

Whoever you choose to get support from, just make sure you do get some support! This will help you grieve a very significant loss, so you can move on with dignity, having licked your wounds and learnt some important lessons from what you have been through. After all, you don’t want to be a repeat offender, no one wants to go through the painful experience of divorce more than once. From years of seeing couples, I know that it takes two people to have a relationship and two people to make it no longer work.

You don’t want to take the same old patterns into a new relationship and repeat the bad dynamics yet again. Every relationship breakdown is co-created, but it takes courage and insight to untangle what was your contribution to it falling apart. Understanding your role in it will help you accept what happened, and eventually help you make peace with it and let it go, relegated to the past where it truly belongs. Do you need support as you deal with your divorce? If so make contact now 0n 0412533590 or make a booking online.

If you need professional support as you deal with your divorce make contact now by booking an appointment online, see my home page https://www.counsellormelbourne.com/couples-sessions/