The emotions attached to the divorce process are unique to the individual. You may feel happy that you are finally free of a dysfunctional marriage. You may feel angry that all of the time, love, and effort you put into the marriage is all for not.
You may feel guilty with the idea that you and your co-parent could not make your relationship work, and now your shared children will have to have two separate homes and have to process the end of their parents’ marriage.
One of the more common emotions attached to the divorce experience is shame.
When you are having marital problems, you may not want others to know about them. You may hold a sense of shame close to you, because you are embarrassed that you and your spouse cannot seem to work through your problems.
Hitting dead ends with personal issues can hurt your pride, and having others know how deeply your pride is hurt can bring feelings of shame to the forefront.
The fear of humiliation can be a powerful motivation for actions during this challenging time. You may look to appease your spouse, just to avoid a divorce without considering what actually may be broken in your relationship or considering what is best for you.
Divorce and shame
When all of it becomes too much, and the divorce process begins, saying the word, “divorce” out loud carries weight. It feels heavy, because attached to it is the shame that society and culture has given it. The concept that marriage is a lifetime commitment incites a sense of shame for those that are unable to sustain their marriages.
You may find the shame to be too much, and for many, this is the case. They may have family members from various religious or cultural walks of life that do not believe in the concept of divorce, making it a taboo subject to discuss.
This can severely limit your support system, especially if you are particularly close with these family members that vocally do not support your exit from an unhappy and dysfunctional marriage.
While it is unfortunate to have individuals in your life not support your decision to divorce your spouse, you cannot allow the shame of what they think or feel to prevent you from living your life. In succumbing to the shame of their thoughts and feelings of the institution of divorce, you are acting against your best interests and damaging your physical, mental, and emotional well-being in the process.
You need to focus on what is best for you, your future, and your children, if you have them.
Helping your children
Keeping a marital home together for the children’s sake will only cause more pain in the long-term, and you need to be there, as an active parent, to help your children process the difficulties associated with a parental divorce.
They are going to be dealing with a level of shame in their daily lives. Whether it is being faced at school or among their friends, they will be facing questions.
It is important for you to maintain a clear outlook and not allow potentially paralyzing reality that your children are facing this to prevent you from helping them to the best of your abilities. You need to consistently remind them that even though you and your co-parent are no longer together, the both of you love them very much and will always be there for them.
You need to emphasize an open line of communication. They need to know that they can tell you anything, because what they are going through is unique, in comparison to what you and your ex-spouse are going through. They rely on the both of you, and for the both of you to no longer be together is a challenging adjustment that can bring about a wealth of emotions, including shame.
It is important both for your sake and your children’s sakes that you help yourself during this difficult time. You need to sort through what ails you, and just like you would if it were something physical, you need to rely on a mental health professional when your mental and emotional health begins to deteriorate.
In taking steps to help yourself, you can rebuild your confidence and leave shame behind. You can move past your divorce and focus on building a life for yourself and your children, utilizing the present instead of focusing on the past.