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Is Contentment an Inside Job? How to Successfully Navigate Divorce

14/08/2015 12:16 BST | Updated 13/08/2016 10:59 BST

It appears to be the year of the celebrity divorce. The latest shocker of the season comes in the form of golden couple Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale , who are splitting after 13 years of marriage and three children. The upset and high emotion of the relationship breakdown is highly visible on the former supercouple's faces in press photographs, highlighting just how difficult divorce is on families, no matter your status.

We all want to be content. However, discontentment is an integral emotion commonly experienced during divorce. Being of the age where I've supported a number of friends throughout the trauma of long term relationship breakdowns, it's evident that the extreme emotions experienced when navigating divorce are the same as those experienced during Elizabeth Kubler's five stages of grief. It's very easy, and very normal to find oneself lost, and in a state of discontent.

This discontentment may take the shape of anger, resentment or even rage or, on the other side of emotional scale, be experienced in the form of sadness, despair or depression. It's important to acknowledge that these feelings are normal, and most importantly temporary.

The decision to end a relationship can be traumatic, chaotic, and filled with contradictory emotions. There are also specific feelings and attitudes surrounding whether you choose to end the marriage or have had the decision forced upon you. It's not unusual for the initiator to feel guilty, fearful, inpatient and a sense of distance to the proceedings. Alternatively, if you're on the receiving end of proceedings, you may feel shocked, betrayed, loss of control. Your self-esteem may be at an all-time low and you may be angry and insecure. It's normal to feel a strong desire to remain together and this stage of denial and bargaining can be highly emotive for both parties.

Avoiding unnecessary conflict throughout the divorce proceedings is arguably one of the key triggers for achieving acceptance and getting used to the new normal of your single status. If you can keep the lines of communication open and friendly to reach an amicable resolution to the separation, it will be beneficial to the entire family. Ten years ago, both parties tended to hire opposing lawyers to fight tooth and nail for the best personal settlement but meditation or out of court solutions are more modern approaches that are cooperative and collaborative not adversarial. They're less costly and more often than not achieve a fairer outcome for both parties, not to mention are less emotionally charged for the adults and any children involved.

Like other traumas in life, divorce is a journey that can be difficult, but often made harder by sparring and conflict. It's important to have a support network and talk to friends and family who will want to help you through. You may want to seek counseling for yourself or children affected by the marriage breakdown. The oldest cliché of time healing is very true. Ultimately, the grief will pass and you will begin to enjoy your new life, which may be different to your expectations, but just as fulfilling, if not more, than the one you've left behind.