Emotions during Separation

Callum Sutherland - Oct 02, 2023
In my opinion, the number one thing you can do is seek a professional's help. I know therapy costs money but that $1000 or $2000 you spend on therapy can save you tens of thousands of dollars in lawyers’ fees.

In a previous blog post(https://callumrsutherland.com/blog/310057-5stepswhenseparating), I talked about the 5 steps to take when you decide to separate. Today, I want to elaborate on emotions. When you're going through a separation/divorce, it's probably one of the most emotional times of your life. You often feel anger, sadness, denial, relief, grief, and uncertainty. You should never make decisions when your emotions are not in check. There is a lawyer in New York who puts a clause in the separation agreement that each spouse will buy a gift on Mother’s and Father’s Day and on birthdays for their young children to give to the other spouse. I am willing to bet most couples would agree to this during happy times in their relationships. He states that an estimated 60% of couples won’t sign the agreement with that clause. In a rational state of mind, we all understand that this is for the child and not the spouse. With emotions high, we see the effects and who it is hurting the most.  Children internalize everything and they need to feel supported by both parents during the process.

In my opinion, the number one thing you can do is seek a professional's help. I know therapy costs money but that $1000 or $2000 you spend on therapy can save you tens of thousands of dollars in lawyers’ fees. I would also recommend making sure that your children have access to a therapist. They want to make Mom and Dad happy, so it is a great idea to give them the opportunity and safety to talk openly where they aren’t scared of hurting Mom and Dad. They may not choose to use it, but you should provide the opportunity for them.  The number two thing you should do is find an outlet for your emotions. You can do that in many different formats: exercise running, walking, Yoga, lifting, knitting, or socializing with friends. You need to surround yourself with something that makes you feel good in an otherwise stressful time. The sadness can be overwhelming depending on how long your relationship was and the circumstances behind the break-up.  The more emotionally stable you are during the process, the better the results are going to be for you. The number one consequence of couples continuing to battle is your bank account. It can go to thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in lawyers’ fees plus, if you're emotional, people typically participate in retail therapy, emotional eating, and other expensive habits.

I don’t think anyone goes into a relationship planning to break up. It is also helpful to remember you spent time with this person for a reason. You, at one point, thought highly enough of them to marry, move in, or even have children with them. It can be incredibly difficult to access these feelings during the divorce but for your own peace, I suggest trying it. I am not a counselor or trained psychologist, but I have seen enough couples battle for years in court spending large amounts of money on lawyers. The emotions are real and isn’t an easy process. Making the effort to understand your emotions and working on them will be helpful for the outcome. On a personal note, the thing I am most proud of is my son, who is now 20, has thanked me and his Mom for how we handled the divorce and how we was never put in the middle. If he decides one day to get married, his mom and I will be there, in the same room with no anger, just joy for our child. It’s not easy but it is possible.


Common questions:

What stage of the divorce is hardest?

This varies by person but it is typically when one goes through depression.

How long does is it take to recover emotionally?

Again, this varies by person and it is not a straight line.  One month from now, you may feel wonderful and 6 months from now you may miss the person tremendously. Be compassionate with yourself and don't set a time table.