Stages Of Divorce Recovery For Women

If you are recently divorced you may be wondering “What are the stages of divorce recovery for women?”  Divorce is very stressful, in fact maybe the most stressful thing you will ever go through. My mother died at a youngish age and I was the only one who had to take care of her before and after death. This was 2 years before my divorce and it was less stressful than what I have gone through since separation.  When you are stressed it is very helpful to know how long the unpleasant situation is going to last according to stress research.

Divorce Advice Women

Divorce Advice Women

I turned to divorce books for help and was happy to find one that talked about the stages of divorce recovery for women and how long each stage typically took.

This book, On Your Own Again, was written by a therapist who is a man, so it was a good counter point to the first divorce book I read by a woman writer.


 Stages of divorce recovery for women

In the book the author breaks divorce recovery down into 3 stages that last for various amounts of time.

1. Pain

This stage lasts for 6 months after separation and generally is a time of withdrawal and living day to day to get past the pain of failure and extreme change in your life.  I pretty much cried every day for 6 months so this came true exactly. I had the same experience when I lost my mother; 6 months of extreme pain. There must be something about that time frame that allows the body to heal.  Mostly it just felt like I had cried enough and there were not so many tears left. There is not really much resolution like with other losses; like “Oh well it was for the best she died” or “It was for the best my marriage failed”. It just felt like I had felt as much intense grief as my body could tolerate.

He warns not to use drugs or physical intimacy to kill the pain. I think a lot of people do use body pleasures to kill the pain though. My divorce support group book calls this “the horny phase”, appropriately enough.

2. Rediscovery

This phase is the second 6 months after separation. This time is for self-reflection.  Primary goals are:

A. identifying things you may have done wrong in your relationship and why you picked your spouse

B. what are your likes and dislikes as separate from your former spouse

C. what things you would like to change about your life such as join a tennis club

D. explore goals for the future

During this time some people are ready to start dating or just predating. I know for me it was a time of pain but crying rates were down from once a day to a few times a week or less as time went on.  I joined some groups and opened myself up to people again like I had not done since my 20s.

3. Getting what you want

This phase takes place during the second year of post separation. This is a time to start getting the things you identified that you wanted in phase 2. This may or may not be a time to start dating. I have met many people that find that they were not really ready to move on with romance till the end of year 2.

I am at the start of year two so I can’t really report much other than to say that pain and crying rates are very minimal; maybe once every few weeks I still cry. I had vowed not to date seriously till the crying stopped but I feel that I maybe almost am ready.

This is a time when you really feel that you are a single person and you are leaving your old life behind.  I feel that I am sending out positive energy to others and before I was not.

I have also started to make some pretty big decisions about my future such as going back to school and where to move after my daughter goes to college.  These are all new decisions that were not part of my plan when I was married.

The book talks about being more grown up and planning on choosing a partner who is more like an equal than a parent or child replacement.

I really liked the book and found it very helpful to know the time frames and what to expect.








I read that women tend to heal faster than men only because they start to process the loss of their marriage more before the separation.


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