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What Does the Term "Emotional Divorce" Mean?


What is emotional divorce?

Question: What Does the Term "Emotional Divorce" Mean?


When you divorce yourself emotionally, you have separated your emotions from the marriage. For some spouses this happens before the divorce. For others it doesn’t happen until after the divorce process.

Most divorces are one – sided. Very rarely, will a couple sit down and come to the decision together. Normally a spouse who has already separated himself /herself emotionally from the marriage wants the divorce. They have gone through an emotional divorce and now need to be unattached legally from their spouse.

Some spouses struggle for years with feelings of emotional distance before they come to the conclusion that divorce is the solution to their problems. I refer to a spouse in this situation as a “walk away spouse.” The spouse who is left to deal with her/his emotions after the legal divorce I refer to as the “left behind spouse.” No matter which role you find yourself playing, you have to come to grips with the end of your marriage and begin to view yourself as a separate individual, no longer a husband/wife.

Characteristics of a Walk Away Spouse:
  • Uncommunicative
  • Cold and distant.
  • Spends large amounts of time away from home.
  • Irritable and impatient.
  • Wants the divorce process to move along quickly.
Characteristics of a Left Behind Spouse:
  • Shock, he/she had no idea there were problems in the marriage.
  • Looking for ways to save the marriage
  • Becomes clingy, often begging and pleading for another chance.
  • Exhibits bizarre behavior such as stalking and harassing.
  • Feelings of anxiety and fear about the future.
  • Tries anything to delay the divorce process.
Exerting Control Over Your Emotions:

The basic instinct of a left behind spouse is to control the situation. They failed to see the warning signs, signs that the marriage was in trouble and don’t know how to respond effectively. They want to do or say something that will draw their spouse back to the marriage emotionally. Due to the fear and emotional pain that comes along with losing someone they love, the left behind spouse often causes conflict during the divorce process that is unnecessary.

It is important to understand that a spouse who has already divorced himself/herself from the marriage is not an evil person. They are not carrying around an agenda of hurt and pain. They are looking for an escape from a situation that is causing them hurt and pain. Their desires and needs can’t be controlled by irrational, bizarre behavior. The best thing a left behind spouse can do is come to terms with the fact that, they only have control over their own emotions. Focusing on controlling their emotions will help them move smoothly through the process of emotional divorce. In turn, they will find it easier to find their way through legal process of divorce.

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