Even if you’ve suffered through years of ugly fights and disagreements, walking away from a marriage is never easy. It may be the best and healthiest direction for you, but it’s still emotionally hard to say goodbye. After all, this is the person you vowed to be with forever. That means that for at least a brief span of time, this was the person you envisioned growing old with.
The process is even more difficult if you’re still in love with your partner. This situation is actually more common than you might assume. Perhaps it wasn’t that your feelings for each other faded—but maybe you lost trust, learned of an affair, or realized you weren’t the right people for each other. Emotions are complicated—it takes a long time to fall out of love, and it takes even longer to fully make peace with the situation.
If you’re about to go through a divorce but still have strong feelings for your spouse, here are a few ways to cope with the change.
Remember, this is natural.
Even if you’re at peace with the end of the relationship, it’s still hard to get over the years of what you thought was a healthy relationship. You might want to hate someone—and feel the pressure to hate someone, after news reaches your family and friends—but it’s just not that easy. While you should shift your behaviors towards your ex (and remember that sleeping with him or her one last time is generally a bad idea) you shouldn’t have to change your personality if you’re still a little numb over the news. Just know that time will help your feelings calm down.
Tell your partner how you feel.
Sometimes we take people for granted—or, we don’t realize how good things are until they’re gone. Maintaining a relationship takes a lot of work. If your marriage fell apart since you stopped making time for each other, and you regret that now, let them know that you’re sorry. During a divorce, it’s easy for tensions to get high. If you’re kind to your partner and let them know you’re remorseful about neglecting them throughout the years, it’ll go a long way and be a step towards a legitimate friendship.
Treat them with respect.
Even if they don’t deserve it. Even if they’ve been carrying on an affair for years, and have hurt you deeply. It’s hard to be the bigger person sometimes, even if that’s not the position you deserve to be in. But if you try not to let things get too nasty, the whole process will be a lot easier and romantically, you’ll be able to get over them a little quicker. It sounds weird, but if you continue trying to one-up them throughout the divorce or drag things out, you’re putting a lot of additional time and thought into them. Although you may hate what they did, and hate them for making your life harder, you’ll still love the fact that they’re still thinking about you in some capacity. Trust in the fact that it’s not worth your time. The sooner they’re cut off, the sooner you can move on and find someone you love who treats you with respect.
Confide in your friends.
Best friends are the perfect people to talk to during a divorce. There’s a wonderful chance that they’re familiar with your ex and can remind you why you deserve so much better. Your best friend has been watching your relationship from the sidelines and can remind you why the two of you are incompatible. A friend can magically speed up the process of officially getting over someone while cheering you up at the same time.
There’s no perfect way to fall out of love with someone. Sometimes, feelings will linger even years after your divorce is final. Just remember that a happy marriage requires two people—and if something just isn’t working, you’ll never have the blissful fairy tale you imagined on your wedding day.
Marriage is complex, and there are plenty of ways for it to fall apart. If you’re trying to navigate your life solo after years of partnership, remember that each relationship is a growing experience. Never forget the things you loved about your ex-husband or wife, but also don’t forget why the two of you were incompatible life partners.