The 7 Stages of Divorce are PANIC, DENIAL, AGONY, RAGE, EPIPHANY, NEGOTIATION and PEACE.
The Divorce Forum System of Divorce Coaching trains you to move through the 7 stages by learning new ways of thinking about, listening to, and speaking to your family, friends, and divorce team. During divorce, there is a finite timetable when your options are greater than they will be in the future. This is one benefit of Divorce Coaching, which does not address the deep-seated psychotherapeutic cause of your marriage or divorce. During coaching, your financial, legal, and emotional issues are considered, and your progress is viewed within a time frame of appropriate action. Whether your vantage point is left-brained and data-driven or right-brained and emotionally focused, your own unique solution will unfold as you move towards your goal of PEACE. If you learn this process now, you need never again become paralyzed by feelings of PANIC, AGONY, or RAGE. If you are considering a divorce or in the middle of one, during each step of life, you may choose drama or PEACE. The choice is yours alone.
EPIPHANY is an illuminating discovery. Often, you gain a sudden intuitive grasp of reality through a divorce. This new perception occurs as you realize something wonderful has occurred as a result. In divorce, epiphany may relate to your new freedom or to the realization of your inner growth. Frank Zizzo, Ph.D. says, “Your wish for unity will not be possible without the free choice of your partner. Ultimately, you must let your spouse have, be, or do what he or she will not change. This is one of the most important epiphanies of divorce.” Once you realize that it is not the circumstances that create your pain, you are on the path to EPIPHANY. When you see that it is your thoughts about your situation that create suffering, you are halfway to PEACE. When a situation falls below your expectations, you may fight, avoid or resist. When you accept life; that is an EPIPHANY. After acceptance, you are free to take action. In marriage, if you misunderstand the dynamic and hold on, you may lose the relationship or lose yourselves; realizing either may be another EPIPHANY. The marriage may fail, but you are not failures. Divorce can become the greatest opportunity of your life. This EPIPHANY may be more beneficial than any divorce settlement.
NEGOTIATION is the process of compromise. Negotiation requires that you first negotiate with yourself before making legal decisions. Once you choose which agreement is acceptable or intolerable, you are ready to proceed. “After the initial numbness begins to wear off, it is important to help the parties recognize what they are losing and not losing. It takes time, patience, love, and persistence for the family to understand that their options cannot be the same as they were before. Once they realize this, they can often negotiate in a much better frame of mind, realizing that they will win some points and lose some points — but in the end, negotiation assists them to assess what is really important to each individual and work toward a reasonable goal for each person involved,” says Deanie Kramer, Mediator for Divorce Court TV, consultant to The Divorce Forum.
PEACE is a state of tranquility or quiet. As you heal from divorce, PEACE is the goal, and as you continue your inner work you will reach it. “Peace is not the absence of conflict. Pain is not a suitable option. Only when we have created meaning for ourselves can we find peace,” says Frank Zizzo, Ph.D. Divorce may be the doorway to freedom and PEACE if you are willing to learn new skills NOW.
It is essential to notice your mythology, old concepts that may have no basis in fact. When you disassemble your story during Divorce Coaching, you examine the difference between truth and fiction. When you see the truth, you may abandon your painful stories and take action to alter your life. Until you see the truth, you lack all the options. The distance from PANIC to PEACE may take a moment or a lifetime and depends on your ability to accept, enjoy, and let go. Trapped in PANIC, AGONY, or RAGE, you written your own life sentence. Divorce Coach Susan Allan addresses the rational and spiritual components of your individual divorce process with step-by-step solutions to find PEACE.
Susan Allan is the founder of The Divorce Forum, which offers free practical advice from ten experts in all areas of divorce. In “Ask the Divorce Coach,” she offers free phone coaching sessions supporting couples considering divorce. This article was first posted here in 2006.