2020 turned out to be a severe test not only for the worldwide economy but also for many loving couples. Hollywood was no exception. While isolation helped some celebrity couples grow closer, others didn’t pass the strength test and decided to get divorced.
Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler, Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green, Olivier Sarkozy and Mary-Kate Olsen, Dr. Dre and Nicole Young, Clark Gregg and Jennifer Gray – are just some of the celebrity couples who ended their marriages in 2020. The beginning of 2021 continued to “amaze” with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian filing for divorce on February 19.
Of course, quarantine wasn’t the main reason for the celebrities’ divorces. However, its contribution to the aggravation of long-standing family problems can’t be underestimated.
CompleteCase, one of the largest American online divorce companies, reported an increase in the number of clients wishing to prepare their divorce documents online in 2020. According to Greg Rublev, CompleteCase Chief Operating Officer, the number has almost tripled compared to 2019. The situation has continued, even in 2021.
“The pandemic has become the “perfect storm” for many married couples, especially for those whose relationships were close to breaking up before the lockdown. For many of our clients in 2020, quarantine became a catalyst for getting divorced”
– Greg commented
At the same time, even after deciding to get divorced, some couples are not mentally prepared for it and cannot handle the negative emotions and stress during the divorce process or after it’s over.
As per Greg, with all the legal paperwork, it becomes very important to remember about emotional health. It is because a legal divorce is often followed by a psychological one, which is often more challenging to cope with.
What Do Divorcees Go Through?
In 1969, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, described the five stages of grief in her book On Death and Dying –
These stages correspond to normal human feelings when dealing with changes. To some extent, any change can be associated with a kind of loss. Therefore, the five-step model helps to understand how people react to them.
Elizabeth Kübler-Ross wrote,
The five stages are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief.
Psychologists have long concluded that divorce causes almost the same strong negative emotions as a beloved person’s death. If we take divorce as the death of a relationship, then ex-spouses will likely experience these five stages of grief.
This is also called shock. You may feel like you aren’t part of the process, everything is a dream, and you are just an outside observer. Often during this period, a person acts automatically, trying not to pay attention to reality.
Then you start to get angry with yourself and others. You may blame yourself for doing something wrong and your partner for their actions. Moreover, people around you can annoy you because their life goes on as usual, while your life seems to be over.
A person thinks whether it was possible to change something or foresee the course of events. In a perfect world, this stage should lead a person to understand that nothing can be changed. But if it doesn’t happen and the individual gets stuck at this stage for a long time, they may return to the denial phase and fall into a vicious circle of denial, anger, and bargaining.
It comes when denial, anger, and bargaining are passed, and you understand that there is nothing you can do to change the situation. It also brings apathy and decreased self-esteem. A person avoids communication with other people and seeks solitude.
An individual begins to adapt to new life and learns to live without a spouse. The mental pain decreases, and they become more interested in the people around them. You open up yourself to new ideas, interests, and experiences. Pain gives way to hope, and you understand that life after divorce really exists.
Although the Kübler-Ross grief model helps understand how people deal with changes in their lives, not everyone agrees on this model’s usefulness. Some critics believe that these five stages greatly simplify the wide range of emotions that people may feel. However, in the preface to On Death and Dying, the author mentioned that it was not a textbook but a generalization of reactions. People could give them different names depending on their experience.
So What’s the Key to a Happy Post-Divorce Life?
Reese Witherspoon, during her interview with Parade magazine, one year after her divorce from Ryan Phillippe revealed that to blame is very easy. She didn’t have the time for hate or negativity in her life as there was no room for it.
These words, said more than a decade ago, pass the most critical message for recovery after a divorce – starting a new life, a person should leave all the negativity behind. It’s a difficult task that takes a lot of time and effort, but nothing is impossible.
When rebuilding yourself after a relationship break, it’s crucial to regain control over your emotions to reach harmony and develop a clear action plan. But everyone achieves this harmony in different ways.
Remy Dowd who is a licensed clinical social worker and certified family and couples’ therapist revealed that there’s no set time frame for what this process would look like. Everyone’s journey is different from others and people should understand that they need to take care of themselves before they can move forward.
Although it is hard to create some perfect recipe that would suit everyone, many psychologists recommend adding the following ingredients into your divorce recovery plan –
- Post-divorce communities and groups
- Communication with friends or relatives
- Reorganization of the home environment
And most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel you aren’t coping with stress.
Getting through the post-divorce period is not as scary as it seems at first glance. You just need to give yourself some time to pull the pieces together. You should not shrink into yourself and live with hope for a better future.