Divorce is a big, scary thing. Just the thought of it can give you that unpleasant sinking feeling in your stomach. This fear of divorce can keep people paralyzed for years, unable to move forward in their marriages, but also unwilling to back out.
Should you fear divorce? No, despite all of the societal pressures and messaging prompting people to stay married, divorce is not the end of the world. You’ll find that the pain of it will pass, you’ll discover new joys and most of the things you worried about pre-divorce never happen!
Once you can eliminate the overwhelming fear of divorce, you’ll be free to either make a clear-headed and rational decision about the future of your marriage or come to terms with a decision that has already been made. You may be thinking that’s easier said than done, but there are actually tons of tried and tested ways to kick your fear of divorce to the curb!
How Exactly to Overcome Your Fear of Divorce
Overcoming your own fear of divorce is a necessary first step for everyone who is getting divorced or even just considering divorce. A lot of times, this fear can keep you stuck in a rut and stop you from moving forward with a divorce you know, deep down, that you should go through with. When you eliminate the fear of divorce, everything becomes easier, and there are several different ways you can do it.
Since you’re reading this article, you’re already making a good start on this step! A large part of most people’s fear of divorce is actually the fear of the unknown. The more you can educate yourself about the divorce process and prepare for what’s about to happen, the more your fears will be eased.
Talking with a friend who’s been through a divorce, reading up on the divorce process online, or even speaking to a professional, like your divorce lawyer, can help soothe your worries.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
The end of a marriage is a difficult time for anyone. There is a lot of pressure on a couple to stay married no matter what, and failing to do that can feel like, well, a failure. A lot of times, during a divorce, people discover just how much of their own self-worth was tied up in maintaining a seemingly-successful marriage.
The culmination of all this can lead to a lot of negative thoughts, and your spouse may share their own harsh criticisms with you that certainly won’t help matters.
During this time, it’s more important than ever to try and maintain positive self-talk. Negative self-talk is bound to arise at a time like this, but it’s important not to overindulge in it. Whenever you catch yourself thinking mean things, stop yourself and replace that thought with a more positive line of thinking.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings related to the divorce while you’re going through it can feel a bit silly if you’re not used to it, but it can really help. In fact, journaling this way is scientifically proven to help you develop, “greater awareness of the positive benefits of the stressful event.” This simple step can help change your whole outlook on divorce!
Don’t Isolate Yourself
It can certainly be tempting to lock yourself away from the world, spending every day in your bed, binging on ice cream and Netflix when you’re going through a divorce. While that’s OK every now and then, it’s not exactly a recipe for long term health and wellness.
Make it a point to spend time with your friends, because research shows that people with close friends are far better able to bounce back from traumatic life events like divorce. If you’re really lucky, those close friends will be the ones knocking on your door on the third day of your Netflix binge, ice cream in hand!
Wait, don’t slam your laptop shut yet- hear me out. I know hitting the treadmill is the absolute last thing you want to do even in the best of times, least of all now! Listen, if you can summon the willpower to work up a sweat, you won’t regret it.
Exercise junkies have been saying it for years, and now scientists have confirmed it- working out reduces the symptoms of stress, like anxiety and fear, and helps to regulate your mood. It’s good for the mind and body!
Talk to a Therapist
If you’ve tried all of these tips and aren’t seeing the improvement you’d like, it’s time to talk to a therapist. They can give you personalized advice and professional guidance to help navigate and overcome your fear of divorce. Helping people face their fears is something that therapists do every day, so don’t be afraid to draw on their expertise.
There’s nothing wrong with calling in a little professional help when you find yourself out of your depth- after all, you’d call a plumber if your bathroom was flooded, or the fire department if your house caught on fire, wouldn’t you? Apply the same logic to seeing a therapist, but make an appointment before your situation becomes a crisis!
Irrational Fear of Divorce
Divorce is scary, so it’s definitely normal to have some fear surrounding it. In fact, it would be weirder if you didn’t! However, there does come a point when your fear of divorce is actually irrational and needs to be addressed in a different way.
For example, if you find yourself so afraid of divorce that you’re reluctant to even get married in the first place, that’s an irrational fear. The old adage, “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” holds true here, but a person with an irrational fear of divorce won’t be able to see things that way.
This type of extreme fear of divorce can affect your entire life and may be rooted in deep-seated abandonment issues. As soon as you realize that you have an irrational fear of divorce, I would recommend speaking with a therapist right away to address the cause of the problem.
An irrational fear of divorce can deprive you of a lifetime of joy and happy, loving relationships, so it’s important to start to work through it as soon as you realize the problem.
How to Be Brave Enough to Divorce
The primary goal in overcoming your fear of divorce is to be able to make the best decision regarding your marriage. If, after you’ve shaken off the shackles of fear, you realize that you do want to go through with a divorce, you may need to work up a little more courage to actually see the process through.
The good news is that you can use a lot of the same techniques that helped you overcome your fear of divorce to help you through each step of the divorce process! See? You’re already well prepared for what’s to come.
There are also a few bumps in the road you may hit after the divorce is finalized, which I’ll cover below to help you be even more prepared.
Fear of Being Alone After Divorce
This is a big one. The fear of being alone drives some people to stay in unhappy marriages for decades after they would have normally left. For some people, the fear of being alone is even one of the primary reasons they got married in the first place!
The fear of being alone is real and difficult to contend with, but not impossible. If you find yourself overwhelmed by this fear, try to remember that just because one of your relationships has ended doesn’t mean that they all have.
In most cases, you still have a loving and supportive network of friends and family to fill your life. In time, you may even begin new romantic relationships. No matter what your inner monologue says, you won’t be alone forever.
But you are going to be alone more often than you’re used to. And you may find that you grow to enjoy the increased freedom being alone brings. You have full control over your daily schedule, the grocery list, and the TV remote. You can live your life as you please, without having to make compromises for the sake of your partner’s happiness. If you’ve always wanted to go on a cruise, but your partner got seasick, now’s the time to book your cabin!
This is a great time to become comfortable being alone, explore your interests, and invest time in getting to know the person that you’ve become over the years you spent with your own identity entangled with someone else’s. Learn to embrace being alone, because it’s definitely not all bad!
Fear of Intimacy After Divorce
On the other side of the coin, you may develop fear of intimacy after divorce. It’s understandable to be hesitant to jump right into another serious relationship right away, considering how you got burned in the last one. Emotional intimacy may be off the table for a while, and that’s OK. Over time, your wounds will heal, and you’ll eventually feel ready to give things another go.
In terms of physical intimacy, it’s natural to be nervous. In many cases, your spouse is the only person you’ve been with in that way for many years, or possibly ever! Depending on your marriage, you may not have even been intimate with your spouse for many years. There are two main ways to handle the fear of physical intimacy after divorce, and you can choose which one feels right for you:
1. Wait to feel that spark- If you prefer not to engage in physical intimacy without emotional intimacy first being present, you may choose to wait until you feel ready for another serious relationship before you open the door to physical intimacy.
2. Get right back on the horse- If you’re not opposed to physical intimacy in absence of emotional intimacy, you may choose to find a like-minded partner and enjoy each other, no-strings-attached. Welcome to the single life!
Fear of Remarriage After Divorce
Once you’ve been through one marriage that ended in divorce, it’s common to be hesitant to start a new one. After all, you and your first partner never pictured yourself getting divorced when you first decided to get married, but it happened anyway. When the topic of remarriage comes up, you may suddenly see a version of your future self.
The thing is, you don’t have to get remarried after your divorce if you don’t want to. Assuming your partner is OK with your decision, you can enjoy a perfectly happy relationship without ever tying the knot.
If you do decide to get married, there is a chance that you’ll get divorced again. No relationship is immune to divorce, and there are never any guarantees. But you’ve learned from your previous marriage, and even if things do end in divorce, you know that you’re strong enough to get through it. You did it once and you can do it again!
Whether you remarry or not is up to you, but it’s important not to let fear make your decision for you.
Fear of Getting Hurt After Divorce
Getting hurt is just a part of life. From the countless skinned knees we’ve all suffered while learning to ride a bike, to the pain of a lost loved one, there are few things in life capable of giving pleasure that can’t also dole out pain. It’s just how the world works.
The only way to escape this fact is to retreat from life entirely. If you lock yourself away in your house for the rest of your life, you may be able to prevent pain from entering. However, you’ll also block out any sense of pleasure, passion, or happiness. And that’s just not living.
If your fear of getting hurt after your divorce is debilitating enough to have you seriously consider this course of action, it should be considered a mental health emergency. A skilled therapist can help you work through these feelings and give you the tools needed to cope with life’s unpredictable ups and downs.
How can I tell my partner I want a divorce? It’s never easy to tell your partner that you want a divorce. Depending on the circumstances, the best way to ask for a divorce is to choose a time and place you can talk privately, explain your feelings calmly and respectfully, and be prepared for your partner to have an emotional reaction.
Is it normal to be scared of divorce before marriage? Yes. In fact, it is one of the most common fears that people have before getting married! It’s to be expected that you may worry a little about divorce during the engagement period, but as long as you have a healthy relationship with no red flags, it’s no reason to call off the wedding.