Divorce After A Long Separation: The Psychological Components

Divorce After A Long Separation: The Psychological Components

Separation and the subsequent divorce proceedings take years in many cases. Enduring the emotional rollercoaster that often accompanies this time period can result in mental fatigue which sometimes leads to divorce settlements where one spouse receives disproportionately greater benefits than the other.

I had one client who was exhausted after 3 years of going back and forth with her husband and his lawyer. The lawyer then said that the next step was to go to court, so in order to avoid that, she took a deal she wasn’t happy with.

A real-world outcome of that situation is that her husband doesn’t have to work anymore, but she does. Therefore, it is important to know beforehand the role that mental fatigue can play on the practical logistics of divorce settlements.

But sometimes there is no one right solution in a divorce. There may come a point where just taking any action to move the process forward is beneficial. Knowing that it is common for couples to feel more and more desperate as time goes on is helpful to acknowledge from the beginning.

Here are some practical things that my clients have reported over the years that have helped them psychologically while getting through this period of change.

1. Work

Several clients report that being busy at work and having supportive, collaborative colleagues was tremendously helpful while he or she was in the throes of divorce. This makes sense as it gives the mind a focus point other than the constant fear, doubt, conflict, pain, and overwhelm which can surround the divorce proceedings.


2. Support

Support in the form of encouragement and love from friends and family during this time is crucial. Support systems of people who will put their own opinions aside and listen without judgement have proven particularly advantageous.

When reflecting back on the experience of her first divorce, one client who is now happily remarried, expressed what was lacking at that time was the sense of unconditional support and love. She stated that she couldn’t see her own worth and that it was the lowest she had felt in her life.

Furthermore, from a practical standpoint having a support system in place makes dealing with the logistics such as childcare, lack of finances, or other resources much more manageable.

3. Exercise or other activities

Exercise or taking on new interests is another component which serves to promote healthy coping during this often stressful period. A divorce prompts some people to explore personal development and the human experience in greater detail. In many cases, this provides a platform to make new friends (at seminars, workshops, or online programs) while simultaneously fostering a mindset and lifestyle change. Some areas of personal development and self-help are more action based, while others are more philosophical. One common theme is that people generally report positive benefits from looking in this direction.

Areas of personal development include: traditional life coaching, yoga, meditation, or spiritual-based practices. For instance, A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson is a commonly cited resource for the spiritually inclined.

Some of the most resilient people I speak with going through a divorce have some exposure to an educational based personal development track called the Three Principles Paradigm. There are teachers all over the United States and Europe. Notable teachers include Jeanne Catherine Gray (who herself went through a very high-conflict divorce while maintaining her own peace of mind, raising two children, and building a business),  Dr. Dicken Bettinger.

On the contrary, a very simple, low-cost alternative is to listen to relevant podcasts. You can listen to them on the drive to work for instance.

In closing, despite everything that is going on. Despite you maybe feeling at your lowest of lows. Despite everything you have to sort through. It’s essential to realize you have an intrinsic value. Even in the midst of the chaos, there is a stillness that is still accessible to you and that can and will guide you during this difficult time.

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Amy Leo
Amy Leo worked with children and teens discharged from psychiatric hospitals and their families for 5 years in New York City as an Intensive In-Home Counselor. Fueled by the notion, “there has got to be a better way”, she quit her social work job to pursue an apprenticeship in the field of mental health education. Since completing the one year apprenticeship program, Amy has worked in the private practice sector and as a consultant for others in the helping professions.

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