Emotional Stages Of Divorce And How To Get Through Them

Written by Harini Natarajan

Going through a divorce can be tough. Both partners are reeling from the end of their companionship, and emotions are high and messy. Walking through a divorce is similar to experiencing grief. The five stages of divorce follow the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In this article, we will discuss the emotional stages of a divorce and how to cope with them.

Emotional Stages Of The Leaver

  • Unfulfillment

When one of the partners feels unsatisfied in a marriage, it often leads to a break in the relationship. It can mean they do not feel loved physically, emotionally, or mentally. They may try to speak to their partner, but it goes unheard, making the situation worse. This leads to resentment and agitation because they feel less valued.

A sense of unfulfillment may arise due to insecurity and inferiority complex where one partner feels lesser. Also, if both partners fall out of love, they feel that the marriage is not giving them everything they want. No matter how much they try, they can’t fall back into love. Unfulfillment in a marriage may also be caused due to abuse.

  • Acceptance

Once the feeling of unsatisfaction sets in, it only festers and grows until the divorcer accepts that they need to get out of the relationship. The longer they stay, the more resentful they feel towards their partner. Once they accept that nothing can make the relationship work, they decide to walk away.

  • Letting Go

Filing for a divorce is the divorcer’s way of letting go. People who file for divorce experience freedom. They tend to feel caught in the relationship, and divorce is the key to their liberty.

Now that we have seen the emotional stages of a divorcer, let’s take a look at the emotional experiences of the divorcee.

Emotional Stages Of The Divorcee

  • Denial

When first served with divorce papers, the divorcee might not grasp the situation. They think that the divorcer is just ‘going through a phase’. They refuse to believe that their marriage is on the brink of its end. They pretend that everything in the relationship is fine, and it can be a stunt pulled by the divorcer to get some attention. This initial response on receiving the divorce papers is a ‘coping mechanism’ to numb the emotions of a breaking marriage.

  • Anger

Once the denial passes, the divorcee undergoes a myriad of emotions – sadness, frustration, and anger. Anger is the most powerful emotion felt during this phase. The divorcee feels blindsided by the divorce papers, and the anger rises from the sense of abandonment. The divorcee might blame the divorcer for the breach in their marriage, making an amicable divorce seem impossible.

  • Negotiation

At this stage, the divorcee tries to fix the marriage. They aim to find out what went wrong and may even suggest going to couple’s therapy. They make promises of changing and being more involved in the relationship. Sometimes, this may help the relationship and become a turning point.

  • Depression

This is when the reality of the failing marriage sets in. The divorcee realizes that they are losing their partner, which leads to depression. At this stage, both the divorcer and the divorcee tend to lose faith in relationships. They may need to speak to a counselor to get over the loss and depression.

  • Acceptance

The final stage is accepting that you need to let your partner go, and no matter what, the marriage has inevitably fallen apart. The divorcee realizes that they need to move on irrespective of their attachments to their partner.

Tips To Cope With A Divorce

Tips To Cope With A Divorce


  1. Allow Yourself To Be Emotional: Understanding that you need to separate from your spouse or that your spouse wants to separate from you can be an emotional roller coaster. One minute you can be sad, and the next, you can be angry. Instead of bottling up these feelings, understand what you are going through. It is alright to feel the loss of your marriage and become emotional. However, do not let your emotions make the divorce difficult or tumultuous.
  2. Look At Things From Your Partner’s Perspective: Try to understand why your partner felt the need for a divorce. Did they try talking to you about the issues in your marriage? Were you too busy for them? Take time to look at things from your partner’s perspective. This can help make the divorce amicable.
  3. Get Help From A Support Group: Find a support group that can be a shoulder to lean on. A support group can help you get through your divorce and move on. It can be an official support group for divorced people, or it can be friends and family that you rely on. Talk out your feelings rather than pent them up until they explode.
  4. Keep The Divorce Cordial: Keep the divorce as amicable and cordial as possible. It will give you the proper closure you need. You do not need a yelling match or an extensive legal battle to settle the score with your partner. If you have kids, you will be seeing your partner and need to be friendly with your ex for the kid’s sake. So, a peaceful divorce is the best route.

Here are a few reasons a person might feel the need to separate from their partner.

Causes For Divorce

  1. Unsatisfactory Conditions: When one of the partners feels unsatisfied either emotionally, physically, or mentally in the marriage, they tend to resent their partner or grow distant from them. It leads to communication breaches and a growing space between the spouses.
  2. Abuse: Verbal, physical, mental, or emotional abuse can be one of the major reasons for divorce. An abusive marriage gives nothing but trauma, anxiety, and physical ailments to the partner. The more they remain in this marriage, the worse it becomes.
    Gaslighting or withdrawal of affection as punishment can leave the spouse feeling powerless and unsafe. Yelling at the partner, displaying anger and hatred, and passing vulgar comments can prove mentally damaging. It leads to poor self-esteem and fear of vulnerability, ultimately making the victim feel detached from their partner.
  3. A Change In Feelings: One of the spouses may not feel the same as they did initially. They may have fallen out of love with their partner. They may have found someone who understands them better and feels more connected to them.

Also, during the marriage, couples might realize they do not fit together. Extreme compromises to accommodate and co-exist peacefully can lead to dissatisfaction, especially if one person is always making adjustments.

Going through a divorce is challenging. It can have several impacts on your emotions and mental health.

Psychological Impact Of Divorce

The person going through a divorce can experience the following:

  • Fear of vulnerability
  • Difficulty in trusting a new person
  • Distress to accept reality
  • Feeling of resentment, anger, and despise
  • Stress, anxiety, and confusion
  • Identity crisis
  • Disturbed sleep or insomnia
  • Guilt and shame
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Psychological need to care for others
  • Obsessive parental behavior

Scroll down to understand how you have to work out the legalities.

Is A Divorce Lawyer Necessary?

No, it is possible to file for an uncontested divorce without the help of a lawyer if both partners are on the same page. However, it is advisable to have a lawyer look through your papers. It can become complicated if money, real estate, and children are involved. If the spouse has cheated, the partner may hire an attorney to get the best out of the divorce. If one partner does not want to grant a divorce, a lawyer is needed in such cases.

Divorce Vs. Separation

A separation is similar to a divorce, except that the couple is still legally married but lives separately. Often, a separation is handled by the couple on their own. However, a lawyer might be needed if there are complications regarding children, real estate issues, tax, and other legal factors.

Issues like alimony, child support, and custodial rights are settled in legal separation as well as divorce. The wife can choose to keep her married surname or revert to her maiden name. The separated coupled have access to certain benefits as opposed to being divorced.

A divorce is a termination or final ending of the marriage. Everything is divided and distributed among the partners, and the couple is no longer legally bonded.

How Long Does It Take To Get Over A Divorce?

Some people may move on within months, whereas others take years to get over a divorce. Both partners should take the required time to heal and let go of the hurt they face. Unfortunately, you cannot put a definitive period for emotional healing. It may require speaking to a therapist or support from friends and family. It becomes harder if you have to see your ex-spouse regularly or share your child’s custody with them.

What Happens When You Do Not File An Answer To A Divorce Petition

If the spouse served with divorce papers fails to respond, they may lose property, child custody, and alimony rights.


Going through a divorce is challenging, and moving on is no piece of cake. It is not easy to accept that someone who was a part of your life will not be around you any longer. Try to gather your bearings and heal. Find a support group, talk to friends and family, and do everything to deal with your emotions and get over this phase.

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As Chief Editor, Harini sets the tone and editorial direction for StyleCraze to deliver engaging, interesting, and authentic content revolving around women's health, wellness, and beauty. She has over 14 years of experience in content writing and editing for online media. She specializes in the areas of Beauty, Lifestyle, and Health & Wellness and is proficient in Medical Sciences (Biology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, and Biochemistry). Her background in Biomedical Engineering helps her decode and interpret the finer nuances of scientific research for her team. Harini is a certified bibliophile and a closet poet. She also loves dancing and traveling to offbeat destinations.