Being in Limbo About Divorce Can Damage Your Mental Health

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By Brette Sember, JD Updated Nov 23, 2023


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Being in Limbo Can Damage Your Mental Health

We've all had difficulty deciding at times, especially about the big things. And divorce, well, it’s kind of a big thing, so indecision comes with the territory.

While you decide what to do about your marriage, it can feel like being in limbo—uncomfortable, powerless, stuck.

Unfortunately, "in limbo" is not a healthy state of being and can have significant adverse effects. Very Well Mind identifies a few areas where indecision can have negative impacts on your life:

  • Health: Disruptions to your sleep schedule, exercise routines, and nutrition intake take their toll on your overall well-being.
  • Career: If you’re distracted from your job duties, inattention can impact your performance, putting your job on the line.
  • Relationships: The people in your life—family, friends, even your children—may bear the brunt of your emotional turmoil, which can manifest as anger, impatience, frustration, or depression.

So, what causes indecision? Let's take a closer look.

Being in Limbo Can Damage Your Mental Health


You delay the decision when you do not decide how to move forward. In other words, you’re procrastinating about making that decision.

With something like divorce, that’s totally understandable. The implications are enormous—for you, your spouse, your family including any children, your friends, and even your pets.

Psychology Today explains what’s happening psychologically when a person is in limbo. Usually, the person facing the decision is overwhelmed and doesn't want to be responsible for making the wrong move.

Critical or tough decisions are significant enough, and have stressful enough consequences, that making them involves serious deliberation.

In some cases, indecision is a protective strategy. People think that by not deciding, they’re preventing the negative consequences or impacts, so not deciding protects them from that.

As a result, some people will do just about anything to avoid making that tough decision. However, it can be a crippling move not to, well, move.

Indecision Has Some Good Points, Too

But as Healthline points out, indecisiveness isn't always a bad thing. People who make quick decisions might not have thought through everything essential to the situation.

Taking time to decide also allows you to gather information and compare the facts.

The inability to make snap decisions might also indicate more at stake than you’re ready to admit. Second-guessing can signal that you aren't yet convinced of the right path.

So, indecision has its pros, and you certainly shouldn’t beat yourself up about taking time to contemplate all the factors involved. The big con, however, is when indecision keeps you stuck for a long time, negatively impacting your mental health and affecting those you love.

Improving Mental Health Starts with You

Because it’s wise not to rush significant decisions, it’s necessary to consider how you can counteract limbo’s negative impacts. Medline Plus has some tips on how to maintain your mental health:

  • Looking on the bright side: There is much to be said for staying positive. However, you shouldn’t mistake that for thinking you should never feel negative emotions; you will and should. But use them to learn from and respond to a problem rather than as an excuse to languish. In contrast, hang on to positive emotions—they are the key to a healthier frame of mind and a thriving future.
  • Try gratitude: Finding things to be thankful for is an excellent way to keep a steady flow of positive energy going for yourself. If you can spend a few minutes feeling grateful for things that you appreciate in your life, it can enhance your enjoyment of those things. In fact, gratitude can shift you to a healthier mindset in almost all stressful situations.
  • Embrace wellness: From physical exercise, to getting enough sleep, to eating nutrient-dense foods, taking care of your physical health will positively impact your mental health.
  • Be social: Strong, healthy relationships can protect you against stressful feelings and the damage they can cause to your mental health. Try new and different types of connections, too. For example, beyond your relationships with family and friends, community involvement can lift your spirits. New connections can also broaden your mindset and offer more hope for the future.
  • Developing yourself and your coping skills: Sometimes learning new things or doubling down on a skill you’ve already acquired can provide a focus that leads to positive mental health. Spiritual Exploration can help some people, too. Volunteering is another way to develop yourself. And working on how you deal with bad situations can help you move forward positively, especially in adverse conditions. Can you find a way to reframe your divorce to a positive and hopeful future? If so, you have the best chance of living a positive and hopeful future.
  • Find ways to relax: Some folks like to practice calming and focusing their minds through meditation. Other people like to relax by progressively letting go of physical tension in consecutive muscle groups. Others take a series of deep breaths. Whatever helps you relax physically and mentally, do it regularly and unapologetically. This self-care is essential to mental health.

Final Thoughts

Indecision and being in limbo about a divorce aren't great for you, your job, or your relationships. People struggling with it are often afraid of the consequences of their actions in making the wrong decision.

Delay is their response to feeling overwhelmed. While taking your time with a significant decision is essential, you should take care not to ruminate unnecessarily or wallow.

As you go through your decision-making process about your marriage, maintain your mental health with regular self-care, be a part of your community, and focus on gratitude and other positive emotions when you can.

These efforts will help you find the path to moving forward toward your best possible outcome—with your mental health intact.

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