Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful events a person can face in life. Regardless of whether your marriage lasted a few years or several decades, you have to adjust to having a new life without your spouse. While there is nothing you can do to erase the pain, disappointment, betrayal, confusion, or anger you may feel when you get divorced, there are steps you can take to keep your mental, physical, and emotional well-being intact. Learn how to survive a divorce by taking care of yourself and your children and making comprehensive plans for the future.
Part 1 of 3: Taking Care of Yourself
Step 1. Give yourself time to cry
Even though the process of ending your marriage has taken several years, you can still feel a new and strong pain as the curtain finally closes. You should keep in mind that it is perfectly acceptable to feel pain at the end of your marriage, since it was a very important relationship in your life.
- As with any other type of pain, all people grieve in different ways after divorce. You are the only one who can decide what it will be like or how long it will take.
- Pain can take many forms. You may cry, withdraw from friends and family, or have a hard time getting excited about interesting things that happen in your life. This is all normal.
Step 2. Surround yourself with supportive people
The people who support you may be different on any given day; You may find friends to distract you, while a support group may be better for connecting with other people who have been through the same situation.
- There may be times when the best form of support will be a distraction, which is when it will help to have a good group of friends as they will probably be happy to find something fun to do if all you need to do is do anything other than the "issues" of divorce.
- Support groups can be great places to really explore feelings about divorce; Because they usually have a start and end time, take advantage of that little time each week to dig into things and deal with feelings. It's also a good way to create boundaries with others if you don't want to discuss it with them, as you can let them know that you are attending a group to talk about it.
Step 3. Exercise and eat right
You may feel various emotions, but stopping eating or not keeping up with normal gym hours will only make those feelings worse. Often times, the divorce process requires a great deal of formal paperwork, so it is important that you have good mental health.
- Many people simply forget to eat when stressed or otherwise overeat to hide their feelings. Try to remember to eat a healthy diet to stay focused on what to do and stay healthy.
- Eating well also includes not falling into the trap of drinking more alcohol or relying on more coffee to hide emotions or not sleep. It is better to address the underlying problem rather than use some kind of substance to hide the cause.
Step 4. Manage stress
Make sure you have a means of exit to alleviate the stress of the divorce. To manage stress, you have a wide range of options, including meditation, listening to music, getting a massage at a spa, or playing with a pet. If possible, make time each day to do something that will relax you and relieve stress.
Self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or even a lot of caffeine doesn't control stress, it just makes it numb
Step 5. See a therapist if necessary
Some people who go through a divorce may stop eating, stop doing their jobs, and feel hopeless for the future. Depression is common during a difficult experience like this. A marriage and family counselor or therapist can help you deal with your emotions and vent by offering personalized support without criticizing you.
- This therapist can also help you sort out the logistical details, such as talking about the divorce with your children or knowing when you are ready to start dating again.
- Your divorce attorney can refer you to a quality therapist who has experience with people going through a divorce.
Part 2 of 3: Making Plans for the Future
Step 1. Decide if you need to change jobs or get one to increase your income
If you are a stay-at-home parent, consider the type of arrangement that will support your household from now on.
Depending on the divorce agreement, moving may or may not be an option. It is important that you keep this in mind if you are looking for a new job, since you may have to stay in the same location
Step 2. Create a personal budget to keep track of your expenses
Even if you ultimately receive support from your spouse, you still have to learn to manage household expenses on your own.
- Keeping track of how you spend your money will give you a better idea of what areas you may need to change or remove entirely. Suddenly going from having two economic income to one will change your disposable income.
- Errors in the settlement process can affect you beyond the immediate future. That is why it is very important to fully understand the process and your rights.
Step 3. Set some SMART goals
During a divorce, you need to think again about your life trajectory. Pick a few goals for the next few months and years, like buying a home or going back to school. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
Take a sheet of paper and write down the objectives that meet these criteria. Then, look for some actionable steps you can take to achieve them. Review your goals regularly to track your progress
Step 4. Pick up a hobby
After being part of a couple for a while, you might feel a bit lost if you suddenly have free time. Trying a new hobby is a way to explore something new and meet new people, without the pressure of dating too early.
- A hobby is also a good distraction if you go from being a full-time parent to your children to being with them only part of the time; It will give you something to do while you get used to the free time.
- Before you are even ready to date again, you should take some time for yourself.
Step 5. Take back your old passions
With the responsibilities of marriage, you may have sacrificed some of your previous passions. You may have always wanted to go back to school. Or maybe you used to like baking, but soon lost the energy to create complex recipes. Perhaps you simply enjoyed reading to fall asleep or practiced a religion.
Remember a passion or hobby that you once enjoyed and consider trying again. Divorce could represent an open door to re-find a long-lost love
Step 6. Take as much time as you need before dating again
You may hear all kinds of advice about when to date or "get back on the horse" so to speak, but what matters most is your personal feelings on the subject. You should only date again when you have dealt with the divorce emotionally and mentally and feel capable of being a true partner in a new relationship. Here are some tips for dating again:
- Don't divulge too much information about yourself too soon. Slowly reveal the details until you feel comfortable and know that the connection has a future.
- Relax your expectations and take the pressure off. Instead of dating to find a long-term partner, just start by having a good time.
- Try creating an online profile. Casually exchanging messages with someone online could reduce the nerves of dating again. However, be sure to use safe dating methods and protect yourself if you decide to meet someone in person.
Part 3 of 3: Raising Children After Divorce
Step 1. You should break the news together
Your children will accept the news better if they see that both are involved in the decision, even if it is not completely like that, since they will continue to be their parents regardless of the divorce.
Before talking with your children, you should spend a little time together to decide how you will answer the questions about the reasons for the divorce. You both need to be in tune with reason and not blame each other
Step 2. Encourage your child (ren) to ask questions
Often times, they may be afraid of what life will be like from now on, so prepare yourself to answer many logistical questions. Your children should be able to ask both of you anything, but you also need to understand that you may not have all the answers and that's okay. They may want to know where they will live in the future or if they will remarry. Those topics are not easily answered and you can always tell them that you don't know yet.
- If they ask questions about the reasons for the divorce, this is not the time to vent to them. They are not your support system and they do not need to know the details about what happened.
- Even if you are not sure where everyone will live, reassure your children by telling them that they will be safe and will have contact with both parents. Safety is an important part of your fear right now, so it will help if you see that both parents are on the same page even if one of you moves.
- Part of supporting your children in this process is also giving them the freedom to talk about it with you and others if they need to. Feeling like they must keep this "secret" can be very stressful for them; let them know who else knows so they can talk to other adults if they need to.
Step 3. Don't give them false hope
Set clear boundaries as to who will be staying in the house and what your time will be like with both of you.
- As your children process this news, they should know what to expect. This means that you need to be clear about what will happen after one of you moves in and what the family will be like from now on. For example, the moving parent should not stay overnight, as this would send them a confusing message.
- Of course, some married couples can fix things over time, but this is not always the case. If you're trying to figure things out, you shouldn't do it in front of your kids, in case it doesn't work out.
Step 4. Be friendly with your spouse
The marriage has ended, but you are both adults and parenting will be easier if you are civil to your future ex-spouse.
- Your children may feel like they are caught in the middle if they see that one or both of them are angry. They must know that they do not have to choose to "love" one of the two. Also, it is not fair for them to say negative things about your spouse.
- During the transition, there may be times when things get awkward, but it should never get to the point where either of you reacts with anger or violence. You are no longer bound by love to your spouse, but they will still be parents, so focus on that.
- Neither of you should ask your children for details about the other parent, such as whether they are dating someone new or other unimportant details. This has nothing to do with your children and is none of your business.
Step 5. Go to family therapy
The fact is, even after divorce, they remain family because they share a child or several children. A good way to take advantage of family therapy is to address the arrangement of the new dynamic or give each family member time to talk openly about their feelings.
- Your children must understand that this is not the time to force their parents to come together again; it's about moving forward with the new separation.
- The therapist can serve the whole family together or make different variations of the group, depending on what needs to be discussed.