10 Ways to Cope While Going Through a Divorce and After
Divorce is never an easy thing, and there’s lots of advice out there regarding how to deal with it. I think that there are three definite phases to a divorce, and have put together a list of pieces of advice based on those three stages:
1) The before (the time leading up to the actual proceedings)
2) The divorce itself (the time involved in hashing out the actual divorce settlement and then the proceedings that result in the divorce)
3) The after.
Much of what I’ve read is focused on the “after;” the “pick up the pieces” aspect. I’d like to suggest that a good understanding of what’s going to come is just as important as coping with what’s happened, and might even make the coping after, a little easier.
So my first tip is to:
1. Check out the article “Answers To 28 Questions All Women Going Through Divorce Should Know” on the website www.lifemanagement.com. It’s a fantastic list of FAQs regarding the divorce procedures including the who, what, where, when, and why. Who files for divorce? What exactly is a divorce? Where do I file? When will my divorce be final? Why should I hire an attorney? Lots of good nuts and bolts information.
Once the divorce procedure has begun, there are a few things to think about:
2. Find a support network. Web Md suggests finding a support network. “While emotional support helps people navigate the initially painful hurdles of divorce, the importance of shoring up assistance for practical purposes post-divorce cannot be overstated.” The breakup of a marriage is a very painful thing. There’s going to be a grieving process and a support network is a good thing.
3. Redefine yourself. Web Md also suggests that this is a good time to begin to see yourself as an individual rather than one half of a pair. For some this can be terrifying, for others freeing. “Looking at this time as a period of self-exploration is one way to overcome feelings of isolation and fear.”Take up new hobbies, activities, interests — expand yourself. Stay busy in a constructive way,” suggests Patricia Covalt, PhD, a Denver-based licensed marriage therapist.”
4. Understand that being divorced does not mean that you’re a failure, less competent, or less desirable. “Divorce used to be something people didn’t do, and many considered divorced women to be ‘loose’ and ‘scandalous,’” says two-time divorcee Jennifer Little, PhD, founder of Parents Teach Kids. Some of those stigmas still exist, she says, so remember that divorce doesn’t define you. “Divorcing just means that the relationship didn’t work out,” she says. “You haven’t been rejected as a woman or a person, nor are you incompetent at being a wife, a partner, a lover, a friend.”
5. Be aware of, and plan for, the change in financial situation a divorce is going to cause. Consult a financial specialist versed in divorce finances, to be sure the divorce settlement does not leave you out in the cold regarding retirement benefits, etc. Have as much information as possible regarding all accounts, benefits, etc. Being removed from a spouse’s health insurance plan can big a big blow.
6. If there are kids involved, keep an eye on them. Many times they won’t say it, but they feel responsible for the divorce. A change in behavior can indicate that the kids aren’t handling the divorce as well as they appear to be.
Finally, after the divorce:
7. Be ready for the holidays to be harder than you expect. This is a time, for many, that the weight of the divorce and its consequences really hit.
8. Take care of yourself. Accept that this is a pretty traumatic time, and treat yourself as you would after any other traumatic occurrence. Get enough sleep. Eat right. Explore new interests. Don’t turn to drugs, alcohol, or food for comfort; poor choices never make the situation better.
9. Allow yourself to grieve. Personally I found that the grieving process was similar to grieving the death of a loved one, only it was the death of a relationship. I went through all the same stages (anger, sadness, etc.). It’s a natural thing, and people move through the stages at different speeds. Some are over it fairly quickly, for others the grieving process is a longer process. Go at your own pace and accept what’s happening.
10. Continue to keep an eye on the kids, and be careful not to involve them. They are not equipped to be our emotional support system, nor should they be used as collateral or spies. It’s not their fault they’ve been caught in the middle and should not have to listen to us badmouthing our spouse. Just because he’s no longer our husband doesn’t mean that he’s no longer their father. Putting them in the middle of an ugly scene will do absolutely nothing except make a hard situation even harder. So if you want information about who he’s dating, hire a private investigator. Don’t use visitation rights as leverage to get something out of their dad. Remember that kids are just that; kids. It’s not their fault and chances are they’re having a hard enough time dealing with the situation as it is.
Written by: Tricia Doane, Rust Built, Marketing Services