Being in denial is expensive

Head in the sand

Maybe you’re not the one who wanted the divorce. Maybe you wanted to work things out. How could your spouse give up so easily? Give it some time, they’ll come around! That attorney they hired is just a sign of venting, right? (News flash – nope.) You’re in denial.


5 stages of grief denial is first


In many divorces, one partner is more motivated to end the marriage than the other. One person has hit and passed a tipping point, while the other is still committed to the marriage – whether or not they’re aware of whatever problems or issues exist with it. This is a rough state to be in – for both parties. And it can end up just prolonging the inevitable outcome, while making things more miserable than necessary for both spouses. And a lot more expensive.

Of the 5 stages of grief, denial can be the most damaging one to be stuck in. By refusing to accept the reality of the problems with your marriage – whether you agree with their severity level or not – you’re just making them worse. One half of your marriage partnership has now decided that those problems are big enough to warrant drastic action and has moved forward with deliberate steps to change things. The other half has refused to acknowledge and accept that fact. So guess what happens? Things drag on. And the process takes longer. And because time is money in a divorce, that means more and more of your shared assets are being slowly burned away.

Maybe you’re in a different kind of denial – the kind where instead of digging in and dragging your heels, you instead “roll over” and surrender everything. You don’t even stand up for your own rights, and refuse to accept the reality that your spouse is already taking very deliberate steps to protect theirs… “If I show him/her that I care so much that I’m willing to give them everything, THEN they’ll see how much this marriage is worth saving after all!!!

New flash – when one side of a relationship has “flipped the bit” and is ready to take the next steps by filing for divorce – that means they aren’t going to be “flipped back” that easily. And in fact, if you roll over and show them your belly like a submissive animal, instead of standing up and engaging the problem on the same terms as your spouse is? Guess what? That exposed belly makes a very good target. Your spouses’s attorney is very good at identifying and attacking targets anyway, don’t deliberately fall on the other side’s sword thinking it’ll help matters.

This “rolling over” symptom of denial will also have other unintended and negative effects. It’ll repel the very person you’re trying to hold on to! If you think that capitulating to the other side will prove them wrong, and win them back? Eh, not so much. You’re actually losing what little respect they may have left for you. Ferris Bueller lays it out well – “you can’t respect someone who kisses your ass“.


So stand up, recognize that you ARE in denial, and do your best to move forward. Divorce isn’t pleasant to begin with, but there’s no need to make it worse, more time consuming, or more damaging than it has to be. Don’t let denial keep you stuck. Don’t be this guy:


denial this-is-fine

Credit: KC Green

It’ll be fine – when it’s over. 🙂



  1. Ginger says:

    Best book on divorce is Dr Bruce Fisher’s “Rebuilding” … powerful and constructive!

  2. Sensei says:

    Thanks Ginger! Hadn’t heard of that one – will give it a read!

    Is this it?

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