Some marriages end suddenly while others seem to fall apart over a long period of time. Whatever the circumstances, if you are dealing with a separation or divorce this is probably a very difficult period in your life.

How you choose to handle a separation or divorce is very important.

No matter what the cause, if your marriage fails you are likely to feel a whole range of intense emotions: depression, sadness, anger, hurt, anxiety, fear of an uncertain future, loneliness, confusion over the many decisions you must make, and a sense of failure at your lost plans and dreams. How you choose to handle a separation or divorce is very important because of the effect it will have on the rest of your life, your spouse's life and on any children you have. If you do not deal with the pain, and if you allow yourself to become bitter, you will be unhappy for a very long time. Let go of your bitterness and anger. Try to look at the separation as an opportunity to re-examine your abilities, your assets and your dreams, and to make the changes necessary for a new, full and rewarding life.

However, before you think about separation or divorce, ask yourself if you've taken all reasonable steps to make the marriage or home situation better by working together. Did you try sitting down calmly with your spouse to discuss the situation? Did you try counseling, either individually or as a couple?

Talking to a psychologist, social worker, pastor, or trusted family friend may provide the necessary medium for working out differences. If you have children, consider the impact of leaving or staying on them. And never bring them into the fight. For most people, it's a shock when a relationship breaks down. Even if you've known for some time that things aren't working out, the final decision to part will stay with you for a long time. Even once it's over, it can take months for reality to sink in. During this time it's common to find yourself fantasizing about reunion and reconciliation or about responsibilities and recriminations.