• Alexandra Filia

DIVORCE! How long do you have to hold your breath?

Divorce is a breakup on steroids. What makes it so special is what surrounds the emotional breakup. Kids, money, housing, lawyers all these are aspects that make divorce a true nightmare to behold. For us women it is an extra difficult time, as it tends to happen when things get complicated or difficult at home.

So how is a divorce different than a regular breakup? For starters, there is the formal aspect of the union. There is the engagement, the bridal shower, the hen “do”and of course, the wedding. Wearing a big white dress, you stand in front of all your friends and relatives and swear loyalty and love till death do you part (at least in 55% of the cases, 88% if you are Syrian). This is forever and you want to world to know.

It is of course not the same as a regular breakup. You do not have to go to a lawyer to breakup, you may have to pay alimony and your financials are inextricably would together. During the marriage you may have acquired kids, property and assets and common bank accounts. But above it all, in a marriage, you have his formal promise and assurance that this is meant to be forever. Over the years you have made choices secure in this forever blanket, choices, that you may not have made otherwise. When it all comes crashing down it is catastrophic, devastating and completely life altering. Second only to the death of a loved one, divorce is the most traumatic life experience.

When you break-up with your boyfriend you can both walk away and start rebuilding your lives relatively quickly. Divorce proceedings on the other hand can last for years and during that time you may be constantly afraid that the man who you trusted with your future is trying to ruin you financially. You will need to go to court, spend money you don’t have for lawyers, lose some or all of your common friends and admit to yourself and others that you failed in your forever. It is a long way from moving your stuff out and changing your address.

 In most cases divorce is a direct rejection of everything you are and everything you represent by the most significant person in your life, who also happens to know you the best.  To top this off, it can come with financial conflict, custody battles, moving home and potential cheating.  A tough situation to recover from.  It only follows that the recovery period will be directly related to how many of these issues raise their ugly head, as well as how long they take to resolve.  In truth, recovery cannot even begin while there is conflict.  

Recovery and healing can potentially take decades if the injured party is forced into daily/weekly contact with the offending party because there are small children, there is work proximity or complicated living arrangements.  Women who are not financially independent and have to rely on their ex’s good graces to pay maintenance or child support on time will also face a much harder and longer journey to recovery.  

In a scenario where a husband has gone walkies with a younger woman, leaving behind a middle aged stay-at-home mum and then proceeds to buy a nice house and have more children while avoiding his financial obligations to his ex, healing and recovery can only achieved with therapy.


Having said all that, should a new partner appear in the horizon to boost the confidence of the one left behind, recovery can be a lot quicker.  Overall, once the divorce is final, contact and conflict with the ex is minimal and assuming that the financials are organised in a fair manner,  then recovery will take approximately one year.

When all is said and done, you will feel like like you have escaped a small airless prison and have emerged into the light. Don't give up home, this too shall pass.


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