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When Divorce Ends Long-Term Marriages

SP writes:

Do you have any special advice for someone who has been in a marriage for 24 years? I am finding that almost everything I do, see, hear, go, etc. reminds me of my ex...This has just happened in the past five weeks, so I am still trying to deal with the betrayal and disbelief too.

Dear SP,

The end of a long-term marriage is viewed by many as equivalent to dealing with the death of a spouse. In some ways it is worse, because the ex-spouse is still around. It is quite normal to go through a "grieving cycle" mourning he loss of the marriage, much the way you would mourn the loss of a loved one through death.

The stages you will go through include:

  • denial that the marriage is over;
  • bargaining to want to try to save it;
  • anger;
  • disappointment,
  • depression,
  • finally resolution.

The stages do not necessarily occur in order, and you will find yourself going back and forth between them. It generally takes approximately 1 year for someone to successfully complete this grieving cycle. The fact that you have only been divorced for 5 weeks says that you are just now beginning to mourn this loss.

The best thing you can do is find an emotional support system for yourself, consisting of friends, co-workers, and other relatives who you are close to. Do not attempt to use your children to be a source of emotional support to you because they still have a need to be parented. Try to vary your daily routine, even to the point of switching some of your usual "hang-outs". This may be helpful in not having the same memory be stimulated by the same location or event that is part of a repeating pattern

Jann Glasser, MFCC, LCSW
Robert Glasser, ESQ
Family Mediation Associates
Irvine, California

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