Families Change Guide to Separation & Divorce

3.1 - The Separation Experience for Parents

3.1 - The Separation Experience for Parents

Now we will talk about the separation experience for adults. It’s important to first address the parent’s experience of separation. When you acknowledge and understand your own emotional experience you are more receptive to the experience and feelings of your children.

Adults may experience loss at many levels when separating. It is a process that may begin long before couples actually go their separate ways. Your decision to separate is often made as a last resort following repeated attempts to make the relationship work.

Most couples do not make a mutual decision to end the relationship. The partner who decides to leave the relationship needs to have realistic expectations about their former partner’s behavior. It is going to take time for this person to accept the reality that the relationship is over.

Separation is often compared to stripping away layers of an onion. According to research, it will take most people about two years to fully recover from a separation. Of course, some take less time, and some take more time.

The process of recovery is the same whatever the source of your loss, whether divorce, death of someone close to you, a financial loss or health crisis. Think about some of the emotions you may have had while going through the process of recovery. You may have experienced some of the primary psychological stages of loss and grief, which are similar emotions to those of separation:

  • Shock: Feeling numb and anxious
  • Anger: Questioning how this can be happening? Showing anger, resentment and anxiety.
  • Transition: Having confused and mixed emotions. Looking back to see what went wrong. Trying to persuade your partner to come back.
  • Acceptance: Establishing a working relationship with your former partner and moving forward.

It is normal to experience a roller coaster ride of emotions – this can include many peaks and valleys. Think about all the different feelings YOU HAVE HAD while going through the process of separation.  Have you felt sad, depressed, anxious, angry, happy, relieved, guilty or ashamed during this time? 

Having these feelings is normal and all part of the process of grieving the loss of the relationship. Allowing yourself to experience these feelings is key to helping you get through the grieving process. 

Also it will help you to take control of your new life in a way that lets you build new relationships that are free of these past experiences.