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9 Tips to Navigate Common Stages of Divorce


Are you facing divorce? Design your own strategy for navigating the common stages of divorce. Have you passed through all the stages of love and decided you’re ready to end your relationship and surrender to divorce? Do you wonder what you’ll go through and what it will all mean?

While every relationship is unique, there are common stages of divorce. Knowing how to navigate them will help you reach a more peaceful resolution.

Divorce is one of the most stressful transitions we go through. Fortunately, there is more awareness now than there used to be and people are more willing to talk about their personal experiences. This has made it easier for others to navigate this difficult time.

Even celebrity divorces, the most acrimonious and litigious, have begun to shift. Think Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, who recently announced their “conscious uncoupling” rather than their divorce. We can only hope they are setting a new trend in divorce, one they will model with pride while turning society in a new direction.

While we wait for Paltrow and Martin to show us what conscious uncoupling means to them, let’s design a process unique to you!

Stage #1 — Surrender

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You’ve done everything in your power to rescue your relationship and getting a divorce is your intentional choice. Nevertheless, there’s that last little bit you’re having trouble with: surrendering to the reality that your relationship is over.

No matter how your divorce began — your choice, his choice, a mutual decision — there is still a part of us that takes it personally, blames the other or is stuck in denial.

Tip #1 — Let go of blame and finger-pointing, whether directed at yourself or your partner. Accept that you have done everything in your power to make your relationship work and you are choosing this option. Embrace yourself, your partner and the choice you have made. With surrender comes serenity and clarity. When you let go of blame, you’ll find yourself navigating these difficult waters with peace of mind.

Stage #2 — You Are You

While the divorce rate is high, you are you and your divorce is yours. Listening to nightmare divorce stories is not going to help you keep a clear head. Instead, look for divorce success stories and the common trends they reflect. Then decide which of those trends could apply to you and try them out.

Tip #2 — Focus on your own situation and your own style of thinking. What you focus on grows. So, if you expect trouble navigating the common stages of divorce, you’ll find it. Stay grounded. If you’re committed to completing your divorce with dignity, clarity and respect, toward yourself and your partner, you will likely have a much easier time.

Stage #3 — Set Priorities

We might wish there was one fabulous formula for navigating all the common stages of divorce. Of course there isn’t. Each one of us is different and so are our priorities. Don’t get stuck in following what someone else has done or what has worked for others. You have your own preferences, and your actions reflect who you are.

Tip #3 — Figure out your priorities and stick to your plan. Once you have identified your priorities and values, design a plan of action that will keep you focused on what’s important to you. That way, you’ll be able to concentrate on who you truly are, even in the face of adversity.

Stage #4 — Forget Divorce Advice From Friends And Family

You may have a fabulous circle of friends and a supportive family. Be cautious, nevertheless, about accepting their divorce advice. While it is motivated by your best interests, it is also tainted by their experiences and expectations for you, which may not be realistic.

For example, a friend who has had financial trouble may suggest you stay with your partner for the financial benefits. Another, who is strong financially and has supported a partner, may suggest you are better off on your own. Their divorce advice, though genuine, reflects their circumstances, not yours.

Tip #4 — Get divorce advice from a trained professional. Read books and articles by experts who encourage you to find balance and what’s right for you. Remember, you are you. You must decide, according to your priorities and values, what you want and what’s appropriate for you.

Stage #5 — Make It Happen

In every divorce, there comes a point at which a person feels stuck. She has a hard time going through the steps to pass that point and feels like she can’t do one more thing. Be prepared for this. No one can predict when it may hit you.

Tip #5 — Stay grounded and clear. Let yourself be human. Even the most agreeable divorce is full of emotion and unpleasantness. You are ending a part of your life, and you must remember, no matter what, to love yourself. Keep in mind that, even though you want to show a strong front, it’s worth it to let all your emotions surface. Always be aware of how you are treating yourself.

Stage #6 — Trust Yourself

How often do we doubt ourselves and even double-cross ourselves? When we don’t trust ourselves, we get sidetracked from the important things and hurt only ourselves.

Tip #6 — Trusting yourself comes from taking all the right steps in sequence. Then you can make the right decisions at the right time. Defining your priorities and values at the beginning of your divorce sets the foundation for the decisions you make at every stage. Do the work, then trust that you have done it with integrity and honor.

Stage #7 — Forget Revenge

Come on! Haven’t we all thought about doing something out of revenge? Burning the clothes. Kidnapping the cat. Slashing the tires. We all have it in us to be vengeful, and sometimes we think revenge tastes good.

Tip #7 — Think again! Do you really want that type of karma? I didn’t think so. Let karma do the dirty work while you stand tall, with your head held high.

Stage #8 — Who Is The New You?

Going through all the common stages of divorce is a transformation in itself. With all the decisions you’ll have to make to navigate your divorce, you’ll be faced in the end with a person you may not even know. People behave differently as a couple than they do on their own. That’s neither good nor bad. Just be prepared to wonder who you have become.

Tip #8 — Ask yourself what you have discovered about yourself as you’ve navigated the common stages of divorce. Be an objective observer, evaluating yourself without judgment. What would you say? Did you know you were so resilient?

Which parts of you could you improve (remember, no judging). Be honest and neutral. Here’s a good chance to discover who you really are.

Stage #9 — Embrace The New You

Stage 9 is the sum of all the stages, where you discover the new you and the direction you want to take in your life. How can you fully embrace the new you?

Tip #9 — Whether you want it or not, a new you has surfaced through these stages of divorce, and believe me, you want to rejoice. Say goodbye to the old and surrender to the new! You are you, your own individual. You want to find new priorities, assess others’ expectations, and design a new plan of action while staying away from revenge.

These are magical moments of self-discovery. Invest the time in nurturing yourself and making your new life happen. There is nothing average about you. Trust yourself, respect yourself, and above all fall in love with the new you.


This guest article from YourTango was written by Monica Magnetti and appeared as: 9 Tips for Navigating the Common Stages of Divorce

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APA Reference
Experts, Y. (2018). 9 Tips to Navigate Common Stages of Divorce. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 24 Apr 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.