Ending a love relationship is a difficult task. Even when both parties are handling it in a mature, respectful manner, divorce inevitably stirs up a host of negative emotions. If you've just begun the process of separation, you're probably experiencing feelings of sadness, guilt, loss, and a terrible isolation; it may seem like this is a journey you must make, or at least begin, all alone.
The breakdown of a marriage can be the single most stressful and traumatic event in a person's life. But like any other life-crisis
The first stumbling blocks to overcome are fear and denial. "This can't be happening to me!" was Karen's first thought when Frank, her husband of 20 years, told her he was leaving her for another woman. "I was very fearful about the future," she remembers. "My thoughts were: 'Where will I live, how much money am I going to have, what's going to happen to our children, and what if no one ever loves me again?' "
Frank, who was raised a devout Catholic, felt extremely guilty on two counts: first, for the pain that Karen and the children were feeling; and second, about what his church had to say on the subject of divorce. "I felt torn in two directions," he says, "but I really wanted to be with Beth. So I told myself that my leaving was for the best; that the kids would get over it; that I shouldn't be ruled by the dictates of a religion I wasn't even sure I believed in anymore." Frank spent five years ignoring his feelings of guilt and sadness over the end of his relationship, covering them up with a much more "acceptable" feeling for him: anger. "I was angry so much of the time," he recalls. "When the kids would say 'we miss you Daddy,' I'd get mad that they were spoiling my happiness. When my parents gave me the cold shoulder because of their religious beliefs, that made me furious." Until Frank recognized and acknowledged the guilt and grief behind his rage, he remained stuck in a pretty unpleasant emotional stage.