Navigating the Complex Emotions of Ending a Marriage
Divorce is like throwing a boulder into a still lake – it can create powerful ripples that impact the lives of everyone involved. The decision to divorce is not an easy one, and the aftermath can be just as difficult. Far too many people make this decision without considering all of its implications, leaving them vulnerable to regret in the future, but at the same time, far too many people put off making this decision or thoroughly considering this decision, staying in a state of what is called relationship ambivalence for months, years or even decades, also later deeply regretting not taking action and often ending up resenting themselves or their spouse because of it.
This post aims to help readers explore their emotions and thoughts about divorce before making a final decision. It will look at the potential consequences of divorcing, as well as how to cope with them in order to move on. We’ll also discuss some strategies for avoiding regret and give advice on how to make an informed decision that won’t leave you regretting in years to come.
We all make mistakes. But when it comes to something as serious as marriage and divorce, it’s important that we educate ourselves on the implications of our choices so that we won’t have any regrets down the line. So why not take the time now to understand the theory of regret after getting divorced, so that if you ever have to take this step, you can be sure that it’s the right one for you.
Divorce can be a traumatic experience with many unforeseen emotional repercussions. Navigating the dissolution of a marriage can be an overwhelming process for those involved, as well as their families and friends. It’s important to understand all of the implications that come with such a major life decision before you decide to move forward with it.
The emotional impact of divorce can vary greatly from person to person. Divorce can cause feelings of sadness, regret, anger and confusion as couples must grapple with the sudden changes in their life. Alongside these difficult emotions, one may even experience a sense of relief if the marriage had become bitter and hostile. Often, most people go through all the stages of grief after such a life-changing traumatic event, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Even if they did make the right decision and end up better off after the divorce, most still pass through the stages often feeling lost or wondering if they did the right thing before the acceptance comes later. Do not try to fight those emotions, as the saying goes, “you have to feel them to heal them”, so just recognize the emotions as they come up, accept the emotion for what it is, but keeping your mental focus on the reasons for making the decision, and just let them pass in their own time.
People often struggle with coming to terms with what has happened and the role that they played in it, but it is important not to deny any wrongdoing on your own part, as without first accepting responsibility for your own faults, action and responses, you cannot grow and learn from the experience. There may also be guilt associated with getting divorced, particularly for the person requesting it or initiating proceedings, who may worry about how this will affect their lives. This can be especially severe in cases where children are involved, as they must come to terms with a broken home and absent parents. It is important to ensure you are getting divorced for the right reasons and are sure of your decision, because then the children will often be better off in one or two separate, but healthy households, compared to one broken household where there is no love or compassion. Just as often do we find children of divorce stating that they rather regret their parents trying too long to stay together, when they should have divorced, and that traumatic conflict situation having a larger impact on them than the divorce itself.
One well-known book that discusses the emotional and moral impacts of getting a divorce is Alain de Botton’s “The Course Of Love”, which explores the complexities of relationships in a contemporary context. It’s a great place to start if you want to explore the emotional landscape of divorce in more depth.
It seems that finding out how many people regret divorce is very hard, as it depends on many factors within the survey sample taken, and the reasons for their divorce, as well as where they are selected. According to one survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, over half of those who got divorced felt they had made the wrong decision in retrospect, but these results may be scewed as they were taken with people not longer than a year after their divorce and often it was the dumpees and not the dumpers that were surveyed. Whereas, a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that only 14.5% of divorcees regretted their divorce.
The Daily Mail conducted a survey of 2000 divorcees in the UK and found that 48% reported second thoughts about the divorce. This figure is much higher than other studies on the subject, further emphasizing the emotional impact of divorce and the potential for regret, however as stated, second thought are common with almost all people after divorce, until enough time has passed for the emotional acceptance to occur and for them to reasonably look at the marriage and divorce. We also find with magazine and newspaper surveys like those, it is also mostly the dumpees that are so hurt that they go through the effort to respond to such surveys and the dumpers usually are already moving on with their lives. Further research from Divorce magazine suggests that up to 90% of married couples who decide against divorce end up being happier long-term than those who go through with it.
Famous psychologist and theorist Sigmund Freud stated that the primary emotion associated with divorce is guilt, as it was believed to be a moral failing. It’s important to note however that in today’s society, divorce is much more widely accepted and no longer carries a stigma of failure, except in highly religious communities and families. The following can be some potential risks that could lead to regret after getting a divorce:
- Not being completely sure of the decision before initiating the process.
- Not taking enough time to consider all available options, such as counseling and mediation.
- Moving too quickly into a new relationship or lifestyle.
- Allowing emotions like anger to dictate decisions.
- Failing to anticipate how certain aspects of life will be impacted by the divorce, such as finances or children’s well-being.
It’s important to ensure that you are making an informed decision before taking the plunge. In some conditions, separation is inevitable for reasons like infidelity or when all other attempts to salvage the marriage have failed, but it’s still beneficial to do some soul-searching through both individual counseling as well as marriages or couples counseling before committing to a divorce.
Some people know what they are doing, for example, in a questionnaire conducted online, a lady stated her reasons with clarity: “My marriage didn’t end due to partner aesthetic related issues, it did end however for similar reasons because it’s was a push-pull relationship that ultimately boiled down to:
“If you would/wouldn’t, I wouldn’t _____.” No one should have to complete Herculean Feats to be treated with basic human dignity, respect, empathy, and transparency.”
Here are some tips for making sure that you won’t regret your decision down the line:
Take time to think about your decision and make sure that it is really what you want. Ponder upon the love equation between you and your partner and compare the peace of mind you had before and after getting into this relationship. Remember that love is not enough, as we often see in abusive or addict marriages where love alone keeps people in those marriages which should actually end. Rather there should be a balance between the brain and the heart. You need to not only love one another, but also be compatible mentally, intellectually, emotionally and also spiritually.
Educate yourself on the potential long-term consequences of a divorce involving the financial implications of being divorced such as legal fees and division of assets. Do this as a pros and cons list of being married and one of being divorced, both currently and thinking about 5 or 10 years ahead.
Get an objective opinion from someone who isn’t directly involved in the situation. Speak to a trusted friend or counselor about how you are feeling and what steps can be taken.
Discuss any issues or concerns with your partner and explore options for salvaging the marriage before making a final decision. Consider all of the alternatives, such as counseling or mediation to help you make an informed choice.
Be mindful of how this decision could affect family members or friends who may be involved. Be sure that you are taking into account the needs and feelings of those around you, such as children. Explore options for co-parenting in order to keep your children’s best interests at heart.
By following these steps and taking some time to think through the implications of a divorce, you can be sure that you are making an informed decision that won’t leave you regretting in years to come.
Many people end up stuck in relationship ambivalence for years before either making the decision to divorce or stay and work on it. Some never get out of that ambivalence and end up regretting their lives or resenting themselves or their spouses. One of the very best books I have ever read on the subject, which provides clarity on whether you will regret getting a divorce or staying married, based on hundreds of cases from psychological counseling, is Too Good To Leave, Too Bad To Stay by author Mira Kirshenbaum.
As with any life-altering decision, there comes the possibility of regret. We can never be sure how we will feel about our decisions after they have been implemented, and the same goes for getting divorced, however the book mentioned above will help give you a good idea. Regret can be a powerful and difficult emotion to process, but it can also be a source of growth and resilience. If you do end up regretting your decision, it’s important to find healthy ways of coping with this feeling.
In her book “Rising Strong”, renowned psychologist Dr. Brene Brown, talks about how divorce can be a major source of regret, guilt and sadness. She goes on to advise individuals to accept their feelings of regret and work through them by engaging in activities that help build self-compassion and empathy.
The first step in dealing with regret is acknowledging it and giving yourself permission to feel the pain. Identifying the source of your regret is also helpful in understanding why you feel the way you do. Once the source has been identified, it’s important to try and move past it by forgiving yourself or asking for forgiveness from those affected by your mistakes. This can provide a sense of relief and closure.
Accepting your mistakes and learning from them, rather than dwelling on them. We should ask ourselves questions like “What did I learn from this experience?” or “What would I have done differently next time?” This can help you to gain closure and move forward in life without being weighed down by regret. Ultimately, accepting responsibility for what went wrong in the marriage, is crucial to growing and learning from it, even if you weren’t to blame, you are still responsible for how you react, or how long you allowed your boundaries to be crossed before getting out.
Developing healthier habits such as mindfulness and self-care to help manage negative emotions can also be beneficial. We should strive to forgive ourselves and let go of any lingering remorse or guilt that we may feel over our decisions. Being kind to yourself and engaging in activities that bring you joy can help to boost your mental health and cope with the regret of a divorce. Be it small activities like yoga, listening to music, taking a stroll, or having a warm bath with essential oil and scents or larger acts like social work and being surrounded by loved ones. We often find that most people that take the time and effort to focus on themselves and becoming better versions of themselves, quickly let go of regret, and find that they are actually happier and better off after the divorce, compared to those that repress their feelings, or ignore them through getting drunk or participating in a lot of meaningless sex.
Divorce is a complex process with many potential implications and emotions attached to it. It is important to remember that divorce does not automatically spell doom; it can also lead to many positive outcomes such as newfound freedom and independence or liberation from an unhealthy relationship. Nonetheless, The decision to end a marriage is not one to be taken lightly and should be done with careful consideration. One should still take into account the possibility of regretting divorcing at some point down the line; many people feel remorseful for giving up on their marriage without having tried hard enough to make it work. Remember that it’s natural to feel regret from time to time – after all, we are human and we make mistakes – especially when looking back at the relationship through rose-colored lenses remembering only the good but not the actually bad parts that made the marriage unbearable. The key is learning how to move forward and live with the consequences of our choices. Here’s to a happy you!!