What advice would you give a friend going through a divorce?

January 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm in Family & Relationships, Love & Sex by Erica Manfred

My advice: Don’t minimize your grief.

After my husband left I understood for the first time how someone could actually die of a broken heart. If you, like me, were unceremoniously dumped don’t be surprised if you go through pain more severe than you’ve ever felt before. I heard this over and over from women who were left, especially if it was for another woman. Men had left me before I got married, but the feeling this time was different. Those men were only passing through – on some level I knew that. Those breakups lent drama to my otherwise boring single life. The death of my marriage was real drama – the kind I’d never experienced before – the kind that breaks you down, tears you up and can land you in a mental hospital or with slit wrists.<br><br>

Just in case you think that this level of extreme grief is excessive or abnormal, I’m here to reassure you that it isn’t. The pain you’re experiencing is very real. Anthropologist Helen Fisher says the drive to love is stronger than the sex drive. No one kills himself or herself over being sexually rejected. People kill themselves or someone else over getting dumped. In one study of people who were dumped, forty percent went into clinical depression. Recovery is an agonizingly slow process of two steps forward and one step back. The best estimate is that it takes one year to recover for every five years of marriage.<br><br>

Although it may not feel that way for a long time, the reality is that no matter how devastated you are, and no matter how long it takes- and recovery time varies widely depending on individual temperament – you can get through this and move on as long as you honor your own grieving process. Don’t try to short-circuit it before you’re ready.  Go to therapy, cry a lot, let yourself feel the pain. You don’t want to be one of those divorcees who are still carrying on about how her ex ruined her life ten years after the divorce.

He's History

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