As can be seen there are many emotional aspects to the divorce process and helping people to work out what stage they may be at emotionally is a starting point to helping them get back on track. All too often the emotional rollercoaster of divorce is left unchecked and even way after the divorce process is over people are left on the rollercoaster with no way to get off.
There are many examples that show that court, financial settlements and custody over children do not necessarily make the pain, anger and hurt of divorce simply go away. Indeed in many cases it can increase bad behavior, which in turn is detrimental to all concerned, especially the children.
Due to the many emotional factors and legal requirements of going through the divorce process many couples are making bad decisions whilst in negative emotional states and some of these decisions can be life changing, especially for the children.
An emotion, positive or negative, is essential for human beings. It is a sign that we can feel that something is either right for us or something needs to change. There are many natural responses such as grieving for a lost one who has passed away, losing a job etc…Negative emotions are important for us to understand that something is not right and needs addressing. The skill is being able to identify our emotions and learn how to accept them and work through them. So many people never face up to their emotions and so their negative emotions are never dealt with and they continue through life reacting on their emotions and learned responses.
As a divorce mentor you can offer the client an opportunity to learn how to keep their emotions in check as they work through the divorce process with you.
Thoughts, Feelings, Action and Results Model. (based on The Cognitive-Behavioural-Emotional Model.. Michael E Metz.. Phd)
Our thoughts affect our feelings which affect action which, in turn, affect the results we are getting. This principle known as the TFAR Model is used throughout the course to support clients through each stage of their emotional journey and to enable them to transform their lives beyond the divorce process.
From lesson 1, the 5 stages of the emotional aspect of divorce were denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
We shall look at each of these in turn along with other negative emotions. Anger is dealt with in some depth as this is one of the most destructive of the emotional stages of divorce and is responsible for a lot of the bad behaviour between divorcing couples.( extract obtained from Healthguidance.org.. Mack Lemouse)
Chronic Anger/resentment – Chronic anger ‘describes an ongoing ‘underlying’ form of anger, often caused by a generalised resentment of life and of other people. Alternatively this can be caused by anger directed inwards. Such prolonged anger is highly unhealthy and puts stress on the immune system and is closely linked to depression and other mood disorders’.
This form of anger is particularly relevant to divorce as the process of divorce from start to finish is protracted and multiple facets of the divorce process can cause deep seated resentment.
Volatile Anger – Volatile anger comes and goes and can be explosive and intense when it does. This is often triggered by a perceived wrong or a personal annoyance and could potentially lead towards physical or verbal outbursts. Anger management techniques can be particularly effective and those who experience it commonly should learn to identify the signs and symptoms then calm themselves down by concentrating on their breathing or removing themselves from the situation.
Judgmental Anger – This is anger caused by judgments made about other individuals or situations and is again a form of resentment or loathing. This can then be expressed as critical, scathing or hurtful comments directed at the source of the anger.
Passive aggressive anger – Anger that is either cleverly hidden by the individual that comes out in non-obvious ways. In some cases the individual may even be unaware themselves that they are expressing a repressed form of anger.
Overwhelmed anger – Anger which occurs when life event become too great for a person to cope with and is similar to frustration.
Retaliatory Anger – This is anger that is directed at an individual or organisation in order to ‘get back at them’ for a perceived wrong on their behalf.
Self Inflicted Anger – This is anger that is directed towards the self, annoyance for failing on a task for example or for being generally ‘weak’ or ‘incompetent’ in one’s own eyes.
Constructive Anger – This is distinct from the other types of anger in that it can actually be a positive thing. Constructive anger describes anger that motivates positive reform or action such as protesting.
These types of anger should only be used as a rough guideline and to identify potential causes and instances of anger that you may otherwise have been oblivious to.
Denial is simply refusing to acknowledge that an event has occurred. The person affected simply acts as if nothing has happened, behaving in ways that others could perceive as strange. Denial could be as straightforward as turning a blind eye to the facts hoping it will go away and at the other extreme a totally subconscious misguided belief that others are mistaken about the facts.
For example, Alcoholics may vigorously deny that they have a problem and genuinely believe in their own mind they do not. A man or woman may discover their partner has left them but they refuse to accept it and carry on as though they are still together, telling family and friends everything is ok. Although perhaps not as clear cut an emotion as say anger people can be in denial about how they feel also and therefore refusing to deal with their emotions.
Bargaining is the negotiating of circumstances which in itself may evoke a few different emotional states. In relation to divorce people often find themselves pleading/negotiating with their ex offering to stage things about themselves they perceive as the reason/s for the divorce, in order to keep the relationship. This in turn could lead to feelings of low self esteem and self respect with a sense of ‘I’ll do whatever it takes to get you back’.
Acceptance is the final stage of the emotional aspect of divorce although as previously stated there are occasions when people never come to terms with their divorce or indeed other negative aspects of their lives. Acceptance is facing the reality of the situation a person is in.
Guilt is an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes, rightly or wrongly, that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation
Depression is a mood disorder characterised by low mood and a wide range of other possible symptoms, which will vary from person to person. This illness can develop quickly or gradually, and be brought on by life events and/or changes in body chemistry. It can strike anyone, and is curable in very many cases.