According to many family solicitors, January is a month that many couples decide to separate or divorce.
There are of course many reasons for this. Often underlying relationship issues, that have been building up over a long time, crack under under the extra strain of Christmas.
Even at the eleventh hour, talking things through with a professional can be productive. However, if one of you has definitely decided to end the relationship, then acceptance and finding an amicable way forward is really the best solution.
Of course, I know that this is often easier said than done because: Relationship endings are one of the most painful and difficult things to come to terms with.
If your relationship has ended or is ending now, you are probably dealing with an array of conflicting and difficult-to-understand emotions, even if you were the one who ended the relationship.
Even if you feel you are generally coping well, there will often be scary and confusing times wondering what direction your new life will take.
It is important to recognise that you are losing (or have lost) more than just your partner: you have lost your hopes, dreams, visions of a shared future.
- Friends you knew as a couple can often stop inviting you to go out when you are on your own.
- The in-laws you thought you were close to may no longer want to see you.
- As well as coping with your own feelings you may be struggling with your childrens’ reactions to the changes in your life
- You may even worry that you may lose contact with your children.
Family may be being supportive, but you might be worried about “putting on them” or revealing too much.
The feelings you are experiencing are very similar to the death of a loved one.
- Denial: This can’t be happening to me!
- Anger: Why did this have to happen to me? It’s not right, it’s all your fault, you are to blame!
- Bargaining: I will do this, or I will do that, I will change. This stage can be an important one, because if both of you are willing to make positive and long-lasting changes, then there is some hope that you can work things out. If you are unable to do this, sadness and depression can start to sink in.
- Depression: You may feel so overwhelmed by loss and scared of the future, it may feel like there is no point in carrying on . Although difficult, it is important to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. This may be the time to speak to a professional in your area. Seek out a support group or a therapy group. Learn how to relieve the symptoms of depression.
- Acceptance: This can take some time to get to, because the five stages of grief do not always happen in a chronological order. We can get to the bargaining stage but then go back to different stages, such as denial and/or anger. We can go round the loop and ruminate about the relationship for a long time before we feel ready to accept that things are going to be ok.
Although divorce or separation is an ending, it is also an opportunity for learning and growth. It might be an idea to explore with a counsellor what went wrong. As difficult as it may be, un-earthing your own contributions to the break-up can often provide closure, and is often empowering.
When we are prepared to see our own role, reflect on our own choices, thoughts and behaviour, we can make more informed, positive choices in our new life.