There are several reasons why shame is so often linked to divorce. The historic perspectives on divorce, religious influences on society and individual expectations are only a few of those reasons.
Overall, society has come a long way in reducing the stigma of shame around divorce. Even so, many people still feel its effects as they navigate their divorce.
What can you do to handle these feelings?
Dealing with internal – or even external – feelings of shame on top of the stress of a divorce is not easy. However, there are ways that you can overcome these feelings. There are two important steps to take:
- Show yourself compassion: This is not always easy, but it is the key. Being kind to yourself can help you effectively manage the negative emotions that arise from your divorce. For example, many parents worry they are being a “bad parent” by pursuing a divorce. This is simply not true – especially if the marriage exposes children to significant conflict in the home. Recognizing those unhelpful thoughts and showing yourself compassion can go a long way to help you move on and move forward.
- Remember that divorce is not a failure: The feeling of failure is one of the most common sources of shame. Our society – and, in turn, many people – still see divorce as a type of failure. However, one of the most important things to understand is that it is not a failure. Divorce is simply the end of a relationship. Ending a relationship that does not meet your needs, is unhealthy or even abusive, is not a bad thing.
No one decides to divorce lightly. You should not have to struggle with unwarranted shame while you make this decision and begin the process of ending your marriage.