Table of Contents
There are a lot of changes ahead. These changes don’t have to be negative. When it comes to the topic of divorce, there are numerous beneficial books for every step of the process. Whether you are looking for ways to heal, approach your children, or try to understand the repercussions for both partners, there is a book that can help. When it comes to divorce literature, these are some of the best divorce books currently on the market.
What Are the Five Stages of Divorce?
There are two processes you go through when it comes to divorce. There is the legal process, and then there is the emotional process. There are five stages that people go through when faced with a divorce. It is important to note that there is no specific sequence to these stages. They can often overlap, or you may feel you moved on from one only to land back in it. Your life is unique, and so is your path for healing. The five stages include:
This is typically the first stage that people experience. Denial doesn’t mean that you refuse the truth of your situation. It means that there is the incapability of processing what is happening. During this stage, you’ll feel overwhelmed by the situation, most often because it is so new and fresh. In this stage, it is natural to try to avoid conflict. You may experience confusion and fear regarding the situation. You may say to yourself, “we’ll be fine,” “my spouse didn’t mean it,” or “we can fix this.”
Anger is a form of passion, and it makes people behave in ways that don’t truly reflect who they are. This feeling of anger can stem from being lied to, feeling betrayed, rejected, misunderstood, abandoned, etc. You ultimately feel angry because you are being pushed into a bad place by someone you trusted. During this stage, you often won’t act
like you. You may be overly worried, impatient, or argumentative. You may turn to different vices in excess, such as drinking, eating, exercising, or binging on TV.
This is commonly referred to as the “what if” stage. This stage is an attempt to eliminate doubt. You often rehash how you got to this point and try to negotiate a different outcome. This negotiation could take place within yourself, with a spouse, or with a higher power. In this stage, some will experience feelings of guilt and regret, while others may turn to desperate promises to stop the process. This involves the mindset of “I’ll do this, for this,” or “I’ll stop this, to have this.” This train of thinking can be dangerous, and this is often a great time to reach out to others to share your story and seek support.
With depression comes feelings of sadness, grief, and loneliness. You may question the purpose of life and feel detached from society. In this stage, many feel as though they are simply going through the motions. Depression affects people in different ways. This could include having a loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and general feelings of being overwhelmed, hopeless, and helpless. While this is a natural stage in a sense, it is also important that you don’t get stuck here and allow it to go on for too long. If you feel stuck in this stage, it is important to reach out for help.
This stage is essentially where you want to end up. It will arrive in bits and pieces. You’ll start to experience more good days than bad. There is a coming to terms with the situation, and a clarity that there is life after divorce. You’ll find yourself feeling more optimistic about your future, and a willingness to explore what is out there.
Divorce, even when it is a mutual decision, is still a difficult process. How these stages affect you will vary. You’ll have your bad days, but you’ll also have good days. When it comes to dealing with these stages, there are several books available to help guide and inspire you to see the journey through. No matter how dark and uncertain your future may seem when going through a divorce, there will be sunlight again.
How Should I Prepare for Divorce?
Divorce can be tricky. In some circumstances, both parties realize divorce is their best option. In other cases, one spouse initiates the process, but there have been issues leading up to the decision. There are also cases where one spouse may feel blindsided by the other, having no idea that divorce was on the horizon. In some of these cases, preparation is easy, and in others, it may be a bit of a scramble. When it comes to preparing for a divorce, there are a few steps to keep in mind. These include:
Get Educated and Do Your Research
The process can go several ways, and it largely depends on how willing both parties are when it comes to working towards a mutual separation. You can try to handle it yourself, though that is often unadvised. You can battle it out in court, or you can mediate your divorce. Mediation tends to be the most peaceful option, and if you can work together, often solved the quickest.
You are going to have to make a ton of decisions during the divorce process, especially if you’ve been together for quite some time, or if you have children. The more organized you are, the faster and smoother the process can take place.
Choose the Right Person
Find an experienced and competent professional to guide you through proceedings. This is important because it can help shape how the rest of the process will go. A professional will help you understand the proceedings, help you to gather all necessary documents, and be your advocate through the divorce proceedings.
Even if you’re not the one seeking the divorce, it is still your divorce. You don’t want to sit on the sidelines and be walked over. It is important to take ownership of the situation. You need to be willing and able to actively participate in negotiations.
Find Emotional Support
This is a trying time, even if you were the one seeking the divorce. This process will stir up several emotions, and you are going to experience both good and bad days. You’ll want to find tools and tricks to help lower your emotional reactivity. This can hinder the process, and working out of bitterness or anger can lead to the process becoming dragged on even further.
Focus on Your Children
If you have children, you want to consider what will be best for them. They should be your primary focus, and your drive to get life back on track as soon as possible. You also want to be mindful of how aware they are of what is happening. You should never bad-mouth your spouse in front of their children. Odds are you will need to co-parent, and the more amicable you can treat each other, the better.
Stay Focused on Your Integrity
Emotions can be high, especially anger. Anger can lead you to behave in ways you wouldn’t normally. It is important to be mindful of staying true to yourself. Even if your spouse is reacting differently, the high ground is always the best way to go.
Focus on the Big Picture
There is life after divorce. There is happiness, opportunities, and growth. While it may seem like the world around is crumbling, these feelings are temporary.
Best Divorce Self-Help Books
When it comes to the best divorce books, there is a wide range of options.
These include personal memoirs, as well as daily meditations and guides.
When it comes to some of the best divorce self-help books, we recommend exploring:
How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed: A Memoir by Theo Pauline Nestor
This memoir is a candid narrative of her divorce. While it isn’t necessarily a self-help book, it is a relatable book for those experiencing the highs and lows of a divorce.
One five star reviewer on Amazon said:
“Theo Nestor moves from childhood to various points in her adult life, and then to her chaotic present, as she receives a brutal blow to her marriage and it suddenly ends. Full of funny self-deprecating but also deeply reflective passages, she unpacks the societal expectations of a divorced woman, a divorced parent, and then a single parent trying to move on with her life. She describes the immediate experience of getting divorced in a way that would be comforting to someone going through the same. Whether you’re a child of divorced parents, have gone through a divorce, or know someone who has (that’s pretty much all of us), Nestor offers context, humor, insight and her story of how to get through it and maybe even find something else on the other side.”
Getting Past Your Breakup by Susan J. Elliot
This self-help book has been an Amazon best seller for quite some time. It is full of positive aspirations and journal prompts. It is geared towards helping you transform your life and becoming a better you.
You can read almost 2,000 reviews on Amazon, like this one that the reviewer titled “Life Saver”:
“I don’t know where I heard about this book – the first days during the collapse of my marriage are all a blur. But I’m so thankful that, wherever I learned of Susan Elliott from, I gave her book a chance. Admittedly there were parts I wanted to ignore at first – no contact with someone you’ve loved and shared a life with for nearly 20 years seems impossible – but I knew what she was advising was what would ultimately be in my best interest. I’ve reread parts of this book over and over and over again – I’ve hi-lighted so many sections and go back to them even over a year later. Elliott directly teaches ways to heal yourself and find your self-worth again with affirmations, journaling, and her inventories. If you are finding yourself considering this book for your own use, you have my sympathies. I know first-hand how the end of a relationship hurts. This book will help you find your way back to yourself.”
All About Love by Bell Hooks
This book provides a fresh feminist perspective. It is geared towards women exiting a toxic marriage. It discusses common misconceptions about love, challenging you to reexamine how you approach a relationship and create a fresh blueprint.
Check out what this Amazon five star reviewer said:
“This is a book every young woman needs to read, I see myself rereading it in years to come. Bell Hooks addresses all of the heart issues and pains I’ve felt throughout the years and it’s written so logically. She doesn’t draw on emotions, but logic and growth, she rationalizes the emotions and circumstances many of us feel but can’t manage. Through the use of her own experiences, as well as the texts of other authors she has created something that is truly amazing and healing, I’ve literally referred this book to everyone I know.”
Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation by Rachel Cusk
This book is an unfiltered account of the author’s separation, including the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. This book highlights the whirlwind of emotions often associated with going through the divorce process.
One five star reviewer on Amazon said:
“Highly recommend it. Cusk is a master of feeling, thought, story and metaphor. One of her best. Also check out A Life’s Work.”
Wherever You Go There You Are by Job Kabat-Zinn
This book explains how to fully enjoy the present moment and stop yourself from worrying about the past or the future. It provides step-by-step meditation practices that can easily be incorporated into your everyday life.
It might be best to digest this book in sections like this reviewer recommends:
“At some point in your life, you may begin to wonder, “Will things always be this way?” – so rushed, with barely a moment to call your own, and current events that swirl around you often reflecting the worst side of humanity. So lost in to-do lists that you barely know where they stop and you start. Or have you thought, “Will I always be this way?” – maybe anxious or irritated, perhaps distracted, or beginning to feel isolated from those around you – even from your loved ones? This book explains that living each moment fully (and what that phrase means) can bring you back to yourself, and to a peaceful yet connected stillness that ultimately enriches your life. It describes the discipline and detached self observation (i.e., meditation) required to achieve it. I found this book to be best read in small sections, and I plan to re-read it many times. In retrospect, I would buy next in paper form (not Kindle). It is filled with insightful and (if you let it) life-changing information.”
Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay
If you’re not sure whether you should go through with the divorce or not, this book is a good starting point. The author Mira Kirshenbaum poses some questions that help you face the realities of your marriage. By reading this book, you can determine which things are acceptable or not in your marriage. And, it’ll help you stick to them to make a final decision on the future of your marriage.
Crazy Time: Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life
If you’ve already started the proceedings for a divorce, then you’ll need a light at the end of the tunnel. This book by Abigail Trafford gives you additional support in navigating divorce, which you’ll need on top of the legal support your attorney will give you.
Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
It’s ok to have strong emotions regarding your divorce. It would be best if you didn’t view it as a weakness but instead as a powerful thing. In this book by Brene Brown, you’ll learn how to harness your emotions.
How to Survive the Loss of a Love
You may not like your ex very much right now, but it’s hard to forget about the love and good times you had with them before. This book is from the 1970s, but authors Peter McWilliams, Harold H. Bloomfield, and Melba Colgrove have many words of wisdom that have survived the times. This book will help you stay strong while you grieve the loss of your past love.
Falling Forward: A Man’s Memoir of Divorce
Many resources for divorce are geared towards women, so it can be challenging to find books that help men in crisis. This book tackles author Chris Easterly’s whole divorce process, including his wife’s affair and his healing after the divorce.
Helping Your Kids Cope With Divorce the Sandcastles Way
If you and your ex have children, you might struggle with how to discuss divorce with them. This book by M. Gary Neuman gives you various tools to address any issues your children may have after the divorce.
Divorce is Never Easy
Whether you’re going through a divorce yourself or looking for a book or advice for a friend, remember to lean on people who have been there. And, remember these wise words from Jennifer Weiner:
If you need a professional to speak to, feel free to reach out and book a free consultation so we can see if our team is a good fit for your case.
*Editor’s Note: This post was originally published May 9, 2021 and has been updated Jan 26, 2022.
Ryan Reppucci, Founder/Director of Legal Operations of The Valley Law Group, is recognized as one of Phoenix’s leading family law attorneys. After graduating from Arizona State with the highest honors and inclusion in America’s most prestigious student honor societies, Ryan attended the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. His career as a law student was decorated with numerous awards, including the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law Book Award, nomination for membership in Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities, as well as Moot Court.