Five Tips on Managing the Stress of Deciding To Divorce


Deciding to divorce is stressful. Five practical tips to manage stress and cope with bad feelings.

Breaking up is hard to do

Have you been thinking about divorce for a while and finally ready to take the plunge? Maybe like Andrew you have been going back and forth for some time and have reached your limit.

It takes anywhere between three to five years to come to the point of initiating divorce proceedings. (Love and Intimate Relationships: A Journey of the Heart, by Brown and Amalea).

Stress caused by roller coaster of emotions

Andrew felt helpless at one moment and omnipotent the next. He was hurting badly because he had tried unsuccessfully for a long time to make the marriage work. He gave a lot and showed his love in many ways on a daily basis. He never felt cared for by his wife in quite the same way. He needed to be assertive and take action - but he didn't want to be selfish and vindictive.

Andrew's daily emotions swung wildly  from disappointment and rage to guilt, shame and fear and then exhaustion.  Research by Weiss suggests that the keynote of divorcees emotional relationships is one of ambivalence - a constant see-saw of anger versus yearning. These internal conflicts paralyze you with stress.

Internal conflicts produce a lethal cocktail of fear and stress

Prolonged stress sends cortisol into your bloodstream which

  • hijacks your logical and rational brain causing you to make poor judgments
  • saps energy and makes you permanently exhausted
  • constricts your fluency in communicating your feelings and needs
  • interferes with your ability to distinguish between complex immediate and long term issues

When you have made a decision to separate and/or divorce you need to have consistent energy, make sound judgments, communicate clearly, and make accurate distinctions about your future.

In order to do these things you have to acknowledge and manage your stress.

Tips on Managing The Stress of Deciding to Divorce

  • Own the choice to divorce as a deliberate plan rather than as one of life’s unfair burdens.

Benefit: you will feel less vulnerable, stronger and in control of your life.


  • Create 2 large different colored circular posterboard pieces. One representing your current dilemmas and the other your life in the next 3 months. Note the shift you foresee.

Benefit: you will get a picture of your progress, and use it to motivate and energize yourself.


Benefit: you will reduce your inner conflicts, giving you clarity, energy and fluency.


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