Parenting Basics

10 Misconceptions About Divorce

April 19 , 2017
Abeer Bilbeisi

International relationship expert specialized for individuals, couples, parents, and children.

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  • What is a misconception?

A misconception is a mistaken notion you might have about something, in other words, something you believe to be true but is not. The misconception about divorce is common in most societies and particularly, in the Arab world. In this article, you will discover that maybe yourself have believed in some of these misconceptions and that some of the people close to you may embrace them as well. Please do not condemn yourself or others for believing these misconceptions. Instead, make use of any new insights you might gain to support you on the journey of recovery from the divorce experience.   Here are some of these misconceptions:  

  • Grief and mourning are the same thing!

Perhaps you have noticed that people tend to use the words “grieving” and “mourning” interchangeably. There is an important distinction, however. We, humans, move toward integrating loss (divorce loss included) into our lives not just by grieving, but by mourning. You will move towards recovery not just by grieving, but through the active and intentional mourning of your lost relationship.   Grief is the collection of internal thoughts and feelings we have when we experience divorce. Think of grief as a container. It holds all your thoughts, feelings, and images your experience when you go through a divorce. In other words, grief is the internal meaning you give to your divorce experience.  

  • Mourning,

in contrast, is when you take the grief you have inside and express it outside of yourself. It is the “outward expression of grief”. Especially in a society that tends to “hurry people up” surrounding issues of loss and grief, you must remember to allow yourself time to fully grieve and mourn. It is through the active mourning of what you have lost that you eventually discover new life.  

  • If you get a divorce you are a failure!

There are those people who may project to you that when your marriage ends you are a failure as a person. Nothing could be further from the truth. Divorce is about the disintegration of hopes and dreams, about a life partner who did not materialise. Integrating this loss into your life is naturally painful and challenging. But I urge you to remember that you are not a failure. We are conditioned by society to bring to marriage many unrealistic expectations. “Two shall become one” “happily ever after” “until death do we part”. Actually, in a healthy partnership, two people remain separate individuals who communicate respect for each other, perceive each other as equals, and grow both individually and together. You are a human being who has found herself mourning the loss of a dream. Allow yourself to mourn but do not punish yourself out of some sense of failure.  

  • When you marry, you must stay committed to the thought that this love will last forever!

Yes, many people grow believing that one ideal person completes them and that after they find one another, they will live happily ever after. Yet in reality, relationships do end and love is often not forever. This “forever” misconception often results in us judging ourselves harshly when our relationship ends. Relationships sometimes have a lifetime of their own that does not always include forever.  

  • Divorce is a modern affliction!

Some people would have you believe that divorces have only been taking place in the recent past. Actually, divorces have been with us since marriages have been with us. The first divorce goes back to the Ancient Athenians and will continue to be with us. Again you are not alone or the only one to walk through the divorce country.  

  • If you get a divorce you will not marry again!

Some people would have you believe if you get a divorce, you will never have another significant relationship or ever marry again. However, I remind you that divorce is not necessary a permanent state. It is often a transition to single-hood re-coupling or eventual marriage. Three out of four divorcees remarry usually within three years. As I mentioned earlier in this article, if you are willing authentically mourn your loss, you can go on to create new and satisfying intimate partnerships. Divorce does not make you unlovable, as this misconception have you believe.   

  • The grief and mourning of divorce loss progress in predictable, orderly stages!

Probably you have heard about the stages of grief that follow a straight linear path.

  1. Shock
  2. Denial,
  3. Anger,
  4. Depression,
  5. Acceptance,
  6. Growth

Many people like to believe that the path through a divorce is direct. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. If you have internalized this misconception you may find yourself trying to prescribe “stages” to your own divorce experience. Instead of allowing yourself to be where you are, you may try to force yourself to be in another “stage” or be upset because you are not where you are “supposed to be” in terms of these stages. Don’t think your goal is to move through prescribed stages of grief. Your grief is unique to you.  

  • You should try not to think or feel about the person you are divorcing (or have divorced) on holidays, anniversaries and birthdays!

During those occasions, it is natural for your grief to well up inside you and spill over, even long after the divorce is over. If you feel sad or vulnerable during these times, remember: the feelings are the honest expression of the real you. Be gentle with yourself during these times. To respond this way does not mean you are feeling sorry for yourself, it means you have special needs that must be given attention to your needs, these thoughts and feelings will soften over time. Befriend your feelings and do not deny them.  

  • After you get a divorce, the goal should be to get over it, move on as quickly as possible!

Remember society will often encourage you to prematurely move away from and “get over” your divorce loss. You must continually remind yourself that leaning toward, not away from the pain that accompanies this major life transition will actually make your eventual recovering easier.  

  • Nobody can help you with your divorce transition!

“Do it on your own”. Yet in reality, perhaps the most compassionate thing you can do for yourself at this difficult time is to selectively reach out for help from others whom you know that they are non-judgemental.  

  • When the grief and mourning of your divorce are integrated into your life, the painful thoughts and feelings will never come back again!
  • Oh if only this were so!!! Divorce is a process, not an event.  You will always, for the rest of your life, feel some aspects of grief and loss over the ending of your relationship. However, these feelings will one day no longer dominate your daily existence or be the center of your life. Yet, they will always be there, in the background, reminding you of the person and the relationship you were once connected.