Home » Library » Parenting » Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster of Divorce

Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster of Divorce

Divorce is an emotional roller coaster, that’s for sure. There is no way around it. People can tell you that these emotions come and go, and that, with time, they become less intense, and they are right. And yet, it’s hard to take comfort in their advice when the roller coaster is throwing you this way and that way, up and down, and you are just trying to hang on.

Basically, your emotions will have their way, at least for a time. They can’t be denied or shoved aside forever, and they shouldn’t be because they each have an important role to play in the healing process. In the meantime, remember that even in the throes of surging emotions, you can still control your behavior. Try to keep your thinking somewhat balanced by touching base with supportive friends.

You might want to try to have some time and space for your feelings, instead of resisting them or having them spill out into your life inappropriately. Some people do this in the supportive environment of counseling or you can have a friend “on-call,” because, when you are alone, it is easy to “spin out.”

Rather than plunging in or getting flooded, you might want to try just “dipping into your feelings” occasionally, seeing what is there. This could give you a chance to “recognize your feelings” rather than being taken over by them: “I am feeling so desperate,” “I am scared,” “I can’t see any future,” ” I am hurting,” “My hurt is turning into guilt,” etc. By disengaging your mental clutch so that the emotions don’t automatically drive your behavior and dominate your overall thinking, you can let each emotion contribute its part of the truth and its part to the process.

If, however, you act on these intense emotions as if they were telling you the whole story, you will undoubtedly make a big mistake. Strong emotions tell stories that are too simple — “it’s all her fault.” And actions have consequences that persist beyond the coming-and-going of emotions. Angry actions trigger anger in return, fear promotes more fear, hurt can lead to hurtful behaviors. When your feelings are so intense, it is better to “cool down” or, instead, act on the basis of “what is right.” Just do the next “right” thing, even if you don’t particularly feel like it. This will be good for you and will be a blessing for everyone else involved, especially your children.

Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster of Divorce

Robert Stone

APA Reference
Stone, R. (2020). Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster of Divorce. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 14 Jan 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 14 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.