Ms. Priyanka Ohri is a Human Developmentalist. She is pursuing a master's in Human development from SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai and sustains a graduation degree in B.sc home science with a specialization in Human development from Lady Irwin College, Delhi University. She is an empathetic listener and an articulate writer.
A marriage is a heterogeneous journey. It involves both stages of marriage development and stages of marriage separation. Marriages and families are a sea with minor yet puzzled waves of conflicts. These issues have serious repercussions that sometimes lead to separation and divorce.
Marriage is not a painless commitment, as all settlements come with uncertainties. There are countless reasons for the breakdown of the bond between a husband and a wife. Some of them are self-disclosure, expectations of marriage, inadequate knowledge of each other, poor communication, keeping secrets and breaking promises, coping with change, sexual satisfaction, etc.
Stages of marriage separation bring a stream of emotions. At a particular stage, one person can feel a sense of autonomy, and the other person can feel a sense of guilt. The divorce process accompanies stages of marriage separation.
Table of Contents
List of Excruciating Stages of Marriage Separation
1. Denial Stage
Denial is the coping mechanism in the journey of grief and emotional divorce. It is also a way to respond to the word “divorce”. At the beginning of the process, an individual may pretend that nothing is serious and go ahead with the procedure of divorce. He or she may not understand the cause of the issue. It usually gives time to the person to absorb the changes and then follow up.
Society begins putting labels on the couple. Thereby, the person starts developing anxiety and constant fear of socialization. They start using defence mechanisms to numb the problem in the relationship. They try to divert their mind in their work. Some join gyming, meditation classes, social organizations, etc., to deny the pain.
During the stage of filing a divorce, the couple stays in a dilemma. They try to accept the fact of separation. They go through a conceptualization of life without marriage. But simultaneously, they keep assuming that issues will resolve soon.
This stage of marriage separation becomes challenging when there are children involved. The couple feels shattered by the thought of addressing the decision of divorce to their children. So, they contradict the reality and intensity of the situation.
2. Shock Stage
An unexpected upheaval in a married couple’s life can make both husband and wife feel a sense of shock. They keep guessing what went wrong in the relationship. Henceforth, denial and shock go hand in hand. There are always two sides to the coin. If one person goes through an eruption of anger or self-blame, then the other can become numb.
Since there is an emotional stage of divorce in the divorce process, a couple can have a hurricane of emotional shocks. They can create a disturbance for them to focus on their life ahead after separation. Nonetheless, separation shock can continue for days or weeks, or even months.
One can also skip this stage of marriage separation when conflicts and arguments are already present in the marriage. One may not feel shocked by the decision to divorce. This stage can or cannot come with the positive attribute related to new lives in the future.
3. Pain and Guilt Stage
Everyone goes through pain due to one or the other reason. One can never escape from pain. So, one should permit oneself to sense the pain during the breakdown of a relationship. Pain can be emotional or physical, or social pain. A person can become panic at small things or indulge in miscommunication. Sleep patterns can become irregular. A person could start eating too much or less than a normal diet. He or she can be prone to substance abuse.
A husband or a wife can also feel guilty while confronting. One can have a pile of sorrow which he or she has denied in the first stage of marriage separation. The person can also outgrow the thought of quitting life because not everyone has the courage to accept the blame. He or she also tries to work on complaints mentioned by their spouse to keep the married life ongoing.
Some families go through a financial crisis, illness, or disability. Accordingly, pain and guilt, both can act as an obstacle in the development of the person.
4. Anger and Bargaining Stage
Anger has a masking effect because it hides many emotions in an individual. Bargaining may help to postpone the sensation of anger, sadness, confusion, or hurt. Sometimes, a person can take an inadequate decision in anger which he or she would regret later on.
This stage of marriage separation arises after going through a legal divorce. A husband and a wife play a blame game and redirect the anger at another person. Some issues in the relationship can be provoking. It would allow the individual to give a back seat to pain and loss and will avoid confrontation. For example, custody issues, sharing of responsibilities, sharing of property, infidelity, etc.
An individual becomes too rational about the situation. They look for ways to give hope to themselves and the spouse. They make marriage alive by compromising or by making commitments to one another.
Bargaining can help the person survive the loss by postponing certain reactions. The person creates a lot of ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ statements. It is not unusual for religious individuals. They try to produce a deal or promise to God or anyone higher in power in return for healing him or her from loss.
5. Depression Stage
This is a quiet yet difficult and messy stage of marriage separation. A person segregates oneself from others. This stage is different from the previous stages of marriage separation. A person no longer runs from emotions. He or she welcomes a blend of emotions and successfully deals with them by being in isolation. He or she starts giving a thought to the decision of getting divorced.
Also, as a part of stages of grief, a person can feel overwhelmed or confused or heavy. They let themselves mourn the loss. They experience a drastic change in their routine or life in general. An individual involves in self-talk. He or she works on reactions with patience because the person no more denies the changes.
It is not an easy and well-defined stage out of all. The person feels like the inevitable landing of any loss. It becomes difficult to imagine a future without the spouse and children. Sometimes, a person deals with self-blame and self-management.
There is a likelihood that the person is stuck in this stage and would call for help from the therapist. The therapist can then help the person work through coping via different approaches.
6. Acceptance Stage
This stage of a marriage separation involves the acceptance of the loss. The person looks forwards to accept life changes. The person understands the decision and consequences. It is not a happy or uplifting stage. It is not an indicator that one has dissolved the feeling of grief and started feeling delighted.
In a marriage separation acceptance stage, a person undertakes a major change in life and keeps a vision of more good days than bad ones. A person feels more satisfied. He or she starts developing emotionally, socially, economically, and professionally.
This stage highlights the new normal in the individual’s life. A person feels different and adventurous. He or she makes new social connections with the least expectations. The person enjoys doing activities that could give him or her a fruitful outcome. Taking time and help from others is common in this stage.
Everyone does not need to go through all stages of marriage separation and grief. Also, not every stage needs to follow one another in the same manner. For example, a person can reach the bargaining stage and then find himself or herself in a denial or anger stage.
An individual may or may not remain for months in one stage of marriage separation or grief. The person can skip some stages wholly or revisit any stage. One should never allow the person to rush through stages of marriage separation. It could create more harm than actual. Emotions and grief are very personal to the person, and one may feel something different every time.
Stages of marriage separation can be excruciating and troublesome. Divorce is a heavy word that brings a revolution in life and emotions. A married couple should always give their time and commons sense to problems. It is beneficial to achieve healthy outcomes.
There are marriages and families where husband and wife feel abundant devotion for each other. So, fine communication can create affirmation between husband and wife. Therefore, relationships survive for a long duration.
Love does not overcome everything. But love in league with intelligence can solve problems in a marriage.
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