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The first stage of divorce, and the longest lasting, is the emotional stage. This is the emotional ending of your relationship and the one you will feel the most ambivalent about. As you go through this process, you will have many doubts about the decision, second guessing yourself, wondering if you are being too hasty. Most couples report that their loving feelings for their spouse began to deteriorate years before they actually considered divorce, but there was always enough there to keep going. Until one day, there wasn’t. The love you shared slowly slips away, bit by bit for a variety of reasons. This involves the loss of love and a loved one, feelings of disappointment, jealousy, anger, hurt and fear.

Uncoupling starts when your feelings about your spouse begin to change, and continues long after the divorce has been finalized through the courts. If you have children, there will always be a connection through their graduations, marriages, birth of grandchildren and other family events. It will take some time and work to create a unified family for your children and grandchildren including new spouses if either of you should remarry. You will find a place to put your negative feelings as you recreate a new relationship. Many couples tell us that they get along better as a divorced couple than when they were married.

Therapists can be a great help during the first, unsteady months of the uncoupling. They will be the “voice of reason” when you feel like you are unsure of yourself, they can be your support, validation, and help you sort through the rubble of your failed marriage. Everyone wants to understand “why” and although therapists don’t have the answer to that question, they can help you find it.

Can you prepare for this stage? The feelings will wash over you and there seems to be no way to stop them. You can, however, prepare to move on with your life. Begin to explore new things; maybe additional education or training, learn to play a sport that will put you with other people, begin to socialize in new ways. The quick fix is to find another partner quickly. Experts would caution against this. We tend to make unwise choices when we are vulnerable and lonely. Give it some time.

Up next: The Legal Divorce

Based on the Six Stations of Divorce by Paul Bohannon