After divorce what next?

Divorce and separation are never easy to deal with. They literally turn your life upside down and shake an individual to the core. But how do you wisely deal with a divorce or separation? NJOKI CHEGE explores

Whether you anticipated the break-up or not, you are bound to go through a roller coaster of emotions; anger, bitterness, hatred, disappointment and, in some cases, even suicidal thoughts.

You don’t know whether to blame yourself or the other person, or your relatives and friends who were so close to you. It gets murkier with children in the scene, as one is at pains as to how and when to burst their bubble.

As if divorce and separation are not hard enough, what follows next — the healing process is equally difficult. Coping without your partner could be likened to learning to live without one limb.

But beyond the messy court process and splitting your collection of music DVDs lies a lesson that you ought to learn from the tragic end of what was once a union made in heaven.


When 45-year-old Maurice Opiyo* separated from his wife of seven years four years ago, he was a furious man. He could not understand how, after seven years of pure bliss, his marriage would come crashing down on him. Everything seemed perfect, but behind the faÁade was an already broken marriage.

Opiyo recalls the endless pressure from his family, who would encourage him to persevere in the marriage, even if it meant venting out his frustrations by finding a mistress.

Says Opiyo: "The separation left me a furious man. I was seen as the villain but one thing I learnt is that you have to remain strong and not fall for the temptation of having a ‘quick fix’ in the form of a caring and sympathising woman."

Eventually, when both could bear it no more, Opiyo and his wife separated in what he recalls as a ‘messy situation’.

According to Opiyo, many separated people fall for the ‘quick fix’ trap where they will jump into a rebound relationship with any woman who shows concern and sympathy. This will only disappoint both parties.


Wanjira Muigai*, 36, has been divorced for the past two years after being married for seven years. She reckons the divorce process was extremely difficult but she made it through, thanks to a strong support system that supported her all through.

She has a child from her first marriage and now she is expecting her second child with her new partner.

Says Wanjira: "Divorce is never easy. I had to wait two years to get another man. I had to find myself first in order to be happy with another man."

According to Wanjira, it is important that a woman finds her footing again in order to move on and not make the same mistakes she made in the first relationship.

"If a woman doesn’t know herself and love herself, she will be terribly wasted by men who may not recognise her worth. It is therefore important to first find yourself in order to move on," she says.


Opiyo reveals that the first thing he did after his anger and bitterness cooled down was to make a strategic plan. In most cases, this is advised by psychiatrists and relationship experts, as a break-up leaves one completely off balance.

Set your priorities right. If you have children, then they automatically become the priority. Remember your children have also been robbed of that stability they have known and they will find it hard to get used to seeing one parent all the time and the other on specific days.

Divorce and separation also takes its toll on children and it could stress them immensely. It is for this reason that your children — whether you are living together or not, should be top on your priority list.

Besides providing for them and avoiding public fights in front of them, your children should never play the role of ‘psychiatrist’ where one parent tells the child about the other parent. If your child is going through stress as a result of your separation, seek professional help and always try to be open with your children. Let them talk to you, tell you how they feel, vent and cry if they must.


Most separated/divorced people will confirm that they also lost several friendships after their divorce. It is for this reason people going through this rough patch are advised not to go through the difficult time alone, but to instead forge new friendships and relationships.

Take Wanjira for instance; she lost most of her married friends as a result of her divorce.

"A divorced woman is victimised. You first of all lose all your married friends because they look down upon you because of your failed marriage," she says.

To counter this, Wanjira found it extremely fulfilling when she surrounded herself with positive friends and avoided the negative friends.

"Just have strong support systems with friends who will not judge you or tell you ‘I told you so’. The last thing you need at sucha time is negative friends," she says.


According to counselling psychologist Jackson Munyoroku, there are five stages of divorce. Phase one is known as deliberation, when the idea of divorce initially surfaces and divorce implementation takes place.

Says Munyoroku: "Unresolved hurts from the past makes someone conclude that divorce is appropriate, but the person being divorced may enter into denial and unbelief."

Decision phase is next, where the couple is now sure that divorce is for real. It is a time for decision making. Family members and friends get involved and offer support.

Transition is the next phase, one filled with irrational behaviour. Both partners have decided to let go and are physically apart. The problem they now have is emotional — anger and resentment increase by day. Litigation phase is the beginning of the legal process of divorce.

The healing phase is a time for commitment to the future to develop self, which is continuous. The irrational behaviour of the past should be dealt with if the future will have a meaning. By this time, the divorce is almost if not finalised.

Munyoroku advises that you take time to rediscover yourself before entering into a relationship after divorce although the time required will vary from one person to the other because of personality, awareness and nature of breakup.

Says he: "Avoid rushing to introduce your new-found friend to your children until you know it is a real relationship. The remarrying parent needs to make a genuine effort to understand and address the child’s concern. Have a positive attitude and exercise active listening by acknowledging his or her worries. Assure the child he/ she will always be loved. The child should be made to understand the new partner will not come to replace the biological parent but is joining the family out of love."