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Ep. 88 – How do you get through your divorce?

One of the hardest part of divorce is the emotional roller coaster you could be on. Understanding the emotional stages you will go thru will help the healing process and help you to thrive after divorce. On today’s episode we will discuss the emotional stages of divorce and how to handle them.


Doreen: Hey everybody, how are you? Today is episode number 88 and we’re gonna talk about the emotional stages of divorce. Really important to know about these stages. Because you’ll probably recognize them and we’re gonna give you some tips on how to work through them and get on to your better life. So if you are ready, let’s get started.

Are you ready to create a life that’s better than ever before? We are Doreen Yaffa and Jeff Wilson, and we are here to give you the strategies you need to create the life after divorce that you deserve and desire. As partners both in marriage and coaching, we use our expertise as well as our own personal experiences to help you make the next chapter of your life the best chapter

Hey, my friends and Jeff, how are you?

Jeff: I’m doing good. How are you?

Doreen: So let’s talk about the emotional stages of divorce. I’m sure that most of our listeners have seen in the Google world or through whatever research about the stages of divorce. And if you haven’t, they’re pretty well known and respected in the fact of what occurs.

So what we wanted to do was start with them and get through them and hope that maybe you identify where you are in the process or say, Hey, wait, I went through this one and I recognize that one. And it just helps to give you a little bit of a peace of mind knowing that you’re not alone and this is what is typically anticipated.

So the first one is shock and denial, and basically, you probably have had issues with your husband, your wife for some time now, and the divorce now has hit someone, has filed for the divorce or said affirmatively, I want to be divorced, and you’re in a bit of shock and denial in spite of the fact that you know that the relationship has been in trouble for a while.

And that’s pretty typical because a lot of times in relationships you’re going back and forth on, should I get divorced? Should I not get divorced? You know, you’re not getting well along well, but when it hits you, You’re thinking? Well, I think maybe they’re just playing, pulling, what did they say?

Jeff: Pulling my leg.

Doreen: Yeah.

Jeff: Going through a phase, you know, it’s just basically there’s still hope.

Doreen: Yeah. You’re thinking there’s still hope. So the first thing that you wanna do is maybe just take a deep breath and if the divorce is absolutely going forward to try to get past that shock and denial so that you can start to really focus on healing and recognizing the other stages.


Jeff: That’s right.

Doreen: So after you get past that, which some people may get through that very quickly, right? The next thing is fear.

Jeff: Yeah. I think fear is very common especially in the early stages of divorce because you have to figure out where you’re gonna live,. you know, how are you gonna sustain your bills and pay and buy things and take care of the kids?

How is the divorce gonna affect the, the children? And we suggest that you, again, focus in on yourself and put your energy towards where it needs to be, which is on you. The only thing you really can control. Well, let’s talk a little more about fear.

Jeff: Okay?

Doreen: Okay. It’s false evidence appearing real, which means that you have a fear of something when you’re going through divorce that hasn’t yet happened.

Like, fear of how I’m gonna pay my bills, fear of what’s gonna happen to the children, fear of what it’s gonna be like to be a single person again, fear of do I have to sell the house? You’re thinking about all these things that create fear. And what we’re suggesting is that those things haven’t happened yet, so we don’t know how it’s going to be.

We’re thinking about the fear of something that hasn’t yet happened. And as a side note, so many people avoid trying things in their life because of fear. Side note for another episode, right? But they fail ahead of time. Because they have fear that something won’t work out with whatever they’re trying to do. In the divorce world, of course, you’re gonna have fear, but you can’t do anything about it at that moment. So it’s really just taking a deep breath again and looking at every day how it comes, and just taking it day by day. Right?

Jeff: Right.

Doreen: Okay.

Jeff: So the next stage, the stage three is anger. You know, and when going through a divorce, sometimes we, we get angry and our primitive brain takes over because that makes us feel a lot more comfortable.

Our primitive brain is happy when we blame people or we get angry with people and that can really, you know, make the, make this things worse, make the divorce worse, make the relationship with your ex-spouse to be worse. And unfortunately it’s very stressful on yourself as well.

Doren: So what should we do?

Jeff: Well again, I think taking a deep breath is a good one that we’ve been using, but also exercising, journaling, get into some maybe music, art. Do something that’s gonna control your,

Doreen: So in other words, take that energy that you’re putting into the anger.

Jeff: Right.

Doreen: And use it towards something better.

Jeff: Something positive.

Doreen: Journaling.

Jeff: Yes.

Doreen: Exercising, you know, all of these other things that you can use that energy for. Right?

Jeff: Exactly.

Doreen: De-stressing yourself through other activities. The next one is bargaining. You probably have your anger and under control at this point, but you’ve noticed that your emotions are pulling you in different directions, right.

You may be wondering if, maybe if getting back together, if is possible now, and you’ve had a time to calm down, so you’re kind of rethinking your relationship. Maybe you’ve even gone out on another dates, you see that maybe it’s not so great out there, and these thoughts and actions rarely work. And usually these efforts to save the marriage can backfire and cause more pain.

So when you start bargaining with your ex, you wanna think about that and just take, just be aware of it. Stick to your guns as you go through the divorce process, right? If you made a decision to get divorced, yes, you’re going to have the fear, you’re going to have the anger, and then you make it into the bargaining stage.

And that’s where you wanna really just kind of, again, pull back, give yourself some room, and just keep moving forward. If that’s a decision that the couple has made.

Jeff: That’s right. Stage five is guilt. Emotional issues and challenges can take a toll during a divorce, and by now you might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and start to feel a little bit guilty that it may be maybe your fault and putting, you might be putting the blame on yourself.

Now, of course, putting the blame entirely on yourself, it’s not only unhealthy, it’s not gonna solve anything either. And usually both partners are usually guilty in some situation.

Doreen: Well, let’s talk about that for a minute because, I, you know, whenever there’s a straw that broke the camel’s back kind of philosophy in divorce sometimes there might be one particular incident, and maybe it’s infidelity as an example, or financial disregard or something like this, that this spouse says, that’s it, you’ve cheated again, or you’ve mishandled money again, and I’m over it. Okay. But it’s not the only thing that has caused a divorce. Divorce is typically, although sometimes they might, but typically don’t happen just based on one particular thing, right?

So placing blame entirely on yourself, especially if you were the one that was the focus of that straw that broke the camel’s back. Be gentle with yourself. You know, it wasn’t one person’s fault. Even if that’s hard to believe for those of you who are going, well, you don’t know my ex, Doreen, you don’t know what he did.

If you really wanna dig deep into your soul and be honest, it really is usually a combination. So what you wanna do when you’re feeling guilt, First of all, be kind to yourself and loving to yourself. I always say treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. Right? What would you say to your best friend if she came to you and said, I’m having a lot of guilt over the divorce, blah, blah, blah.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say, oh yes, you’re very guilty and it’s all your fault. Right? What you would probably say is, listen, this is a combination of things and you know, blah, blah, blah, so you wanna find ways instead to work on your self-esteem, like maybe you’ll start a new fitness routine or do something that you like for self-improvement.

That’s, that’s always great. Of course, coaching as a side note would be a great thing because as life coaches, that’s what we can do. We can help you get through all these stages, we’re not therapist of course, but we can help you to work on positive ways to get through these changes. Use all that energy. And so using the guilt energy in another way is really a cool thing.

Jeff: Yeah. And another thing that we do often is read self-improvement books.

Doreen: Yeah, we try to walk the walk as they say. Right. And so we do a lot of reading and self-improvement. You know, it’s a constant thing. It’s a constant growth issue trying to make ourselves better. And it’s not perfect for sure.

I mean, we certainly have our own issues that we deal with on a daily basis from business and our relationship and kids and all that. So trying to get back to that space of self-improvement usually brings a mindset that is positive in nature and can help you to move forward. The next one is extreme number six is what?

Extreme sadness and grief. This is where they talk about divorce being similar to, in many ways a death. You know, a death of somebody that you loved. It is the death of a marriage as it used to be. I don’t wanna think of it as a death of the relationship in total, because the relationship itself especially if you have children still continues on some level, it’s changed, right? But you still have a relationship as co-parents. So while the marriage is over and that’s can be very sad and you can grieve that, you can try to take that energy and put it into your new co-parenting relationship as an example.

Or maybe you’re in business on some level with your soon to ex. I mean, maybe think about how you can develop that relat. Taking Jeff, you wanna talk about something?

Jeff: Yeah, I just think that it’s also a good idea to maybe see coaching or other treatment options, you know, especially if it’s difficult to perform your normal daily tasks.

Doreen: Well, and let’s just caveat that, caveat that, is that the right way? I guess so. I had to say it is, listen, if you have, and if you go through any of these stages and you’re feeling that you can’t get out of the stage. You’re kind of stuck. You likely should go and talk to a therapist or a social worker.

Definitely someone who is a professional, qualified in that area of mental health because it could be that there’s something deeper that a coach like us can’t help you through. And if that’s the case, you wanna address that because that needs to be addressed before you likely can move forward with goal setting and recovery from the divorce and moving on with your life and creating your best life because if there is some underlying issue there, emotional issue, you may have to deal with that first.

So we definitely wanna to pass that information along.

Jeff:  And also understand that it is normal. And it is okay to be sad and let it happen.

Doreen: Oh, I wanna talk about that because it’s really important when you’re feeling any of these emotions to not buffer. And what that means is you wanna explain buffering.

Jeff: Well, buffering is when you do anything to an excess that could become a negative thing in your life.

Doreen: Well, you’re doing it because you’re avoiding your feeling that is negative.

Jeff: Right.

Doreen: So you’re having a negative feeling. Maybe it’s sadness and grief. And so you are doing something to try to immediately, or to get yourself out of that.

Like, let’s say for example, shopping, some people really get a kick outta shopping. Like it feels good to them. So when they’re sad, They go online and they buy a bunch of stuff, or when they’re sad, maybe they drink too much or if they’re sad, maybe they go out and are promiscuous or something like this.


Jeff: Right.

Doreen: It’s not. Letting you feel the emotion, it’s buffering that emotion. And so what happens is when that high goes away from the drinking or the gallivanting around town or the shopping, you’re still left with that feeling that you buffered. So we want you to always be very cautious of buffering.

It is very easy to do nowadays, especially, you know, there is even buffering with phones and texting and social media and Netflix, flex, flexing, flexing. Nothing is Netflix I love them. But what I’m saying is just like binging on anything. And we all see these people that are binging on things and sometimes it’s done because you really just want to enjoy something like social media or an a series.

Other times it’s really done to avoid. So just be aware that it’s not just the obvious things like drinking or overeating. It can be things that you can seem productive at like, oh look, she’s working on her computer all day. She’s stuck in her emails. But really what she’s doing is she’s buffering her feelings by avoiding, you know, and just staying stuck on the computer.

Jeff: And the other thing we wanna remind you is that just like all the stages, even though sadness may be a very difficult thing, it will pass just like the other phases. It does pass.

Doreen: And also permit yourself time as you go through these various stages, emotions of divorce to let yourself feel.

Again, let yourself feel that emotion. It does take time, right? And just being aware of it, what stage you’re in and saying, oh, I’m in the anger stage right now, or I’m in the fear stage can really help you to understand yourself. It’s what? It’s what we do as coaches. We can help you to identify where you are and to question you and help you to figure out with you, where you are and how to best handle that, and we can help you to get past faster. But the awareness, I think, is super key. A lot of people just in life in general, just live on autopilot, not really understanding their emotions and feeling your feelings is a real thing. Right. You know? So the next one is what?

Jeff: Acceptance

Doreen: Number seven.

Jeff: Yeah. Now you’re starting to feel yourself again.

Doreen: You know when, I mean, for anybody out there that’s gone through a divorce or, well, obviously if you’re listening to our podcast, you probably have, or you’re in the middle of it, but I will tell you something, you’re gonna get past it and you’re going to be okay.

Jeff and I have each been through our own divorces and I’m sure that it’s hard to, for me to remember, you know, all of these emotions that, the feelings that we just talked about. So, you know, it’s hard for me like the denial I can kind of remember the fear. Definitely can remember the fear, but not on a high level.

The anger, not so much. Cuz my ex and I really didn’t go there and he’s a nice guy and I really didn’t have a lot of anger towards him. The bargaining was what, the fourth one?

Jeff: Mm-hmm.

Doreen: And so bargaining, I remember definitely thinking like second guessing, should we get back together? In fact, in our relationship, we even separated for a while and got back together. Right? And then the fifth one is guilt. And yeah, I definitely, even, I could tell you even to this day, I still have some guilt because of the children, right? Did I make the right decision? Did should I have stuck it out better? Should we have tried harder? Number six, with the sadness, I remember being extremely sad.

And then acceptance is a nice phase because acceptance is now you’re starting to feel good, right?

Jeff: Yeah. And you’ll feel like you probably better off without ’em.

Doreen: But don’t get too comfortable when you get there. There’s still a lot of work to be done healing and starting a new chapter in your life.

You know, so you may experience some of the previous mentioned emotions from time to time, even, even, like I just said, sometimes I do still feel the guilt because of the children when, you know, I just, from time to time I’ll see them with their dad and I’m like, oh, you know, was it should I have done this?

Should we have moved forward with the divorce? What about you?

Jeff: Well, I definitely feel the guilt when it comes to Spencer, my son, you know, and what he’s gone through. But you know, there wasn’t a lot of sadness. It was mostly anger and you know, working through that. But, yeah, I mean, I have guilt every now and then.

Doreen: Yeah. So anyhow, we hope that these seven stages, these general seven stages are something that you now can recognize, that you can identify where you are in the process. You can take the time out, breathe, do the exercises, get the self-help, lean on us as coaches. If you need therapists, please seek one and know that you’re not alone.

I think one of the best things, I had a group that I used to do once a month at our office, at my law firm where we used to come together once a month and I would share a life coaching tip of the month, and it was a group of women. And I was talking to one of the women who I still talk to all the time, and she was telling me, I really love those groups because it made me realize as I listened to somebody else’s story, somebody else’s fear, somebody else’s sadness, somebody else’s guilt that I’m not alone and you are not alone.

There are a lot of people going through what you’re going through and there’s a lot of help out there and there’s a lot of support and so we’re here if you need us, and I’m sure if you Google it, you’ll find a lot of support groups as well.

Jeff: Sounds like, sounds like a great idea.

And also I’d like to even maybe hear from a couple of people out there, maybe some listeners that wanna share where they’re at and what stage of their emotions they’re at, or if they’re having issues, you know, you know, like, I’m stuck in the sadness, or I’m stuck, you know, the guilt phase, I can’t get over it. And I love to talk to him about that.

Doreen: And you know, one of the common questions that I get is, how long is it gonna take me to start feeling better? And the truthful answer is, there is no secret recipe for getting passed. It’s really based, every divorce is different, every person is different, every family is different.

And so it will, you will get past it. You will move on. You will get to your better life. Be patient with yourself. Right?

Jeff: Allow yourself.

Doreen: Yep. All right, everybody. All right.

Jeff: Well, thank you Ha.

Doreen: Thank you. Have an amazing week. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Like we always say. Be kind to yourself and others and treat yourself like you really were are your best friend, right?

How would you treat your best friend? All right, we’ll speak to you next week and have an amazing, amazing day.

Jeff: Have a good one.

Doreen: Bye

Jeff: Bye.

Bye-Bye. You have the vision of what you want your life to look like after divorce, but maybe you just don’t know how to get there. So if you’re ready to take control of your life and want to find out more about our coaching, visit us at That’s L A D as in life after divorce dash

Doreen: Until next time, have an amazing rest of your day. And remember, yes, you can have an amazing life after divorce.

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