Some guidance for this critical moment.
If you are going through a divorce right now, I would like to share with you 10 essential bits of information that I offer my couple’s mediation and divorce coaching clients at the very beginning of our work together. While these are basics they are also easily lost in the shuffle of this hectic time in your life. Make a note of them on a small piece of paper and put that paper in place where you are likely to stumble upon it often, such as in your wallet, your agenda, in the pocket of your purse or jacket where you hold you lip balm. They can be a balm of sorts.
Time is of the Essence
Sadly divorce arrives but in time it will go. This will all be over. You will have a new life. In the trenches of divorce, the stress can be intense. You are dealing with issues concerning money, wondering where you will be calling home, feeling the ache or emptiness of loss, and confronting uncertainty. You will feel at times like raising up your hands and yelling, “Just do whatever will make this go away!” Amidst all of this, remember that you are making progress. You are experiencing your own strength and commitment to, not only survive this period, but to come out of it with a sense of excitement about the future. Note the good days and the accomplishments. Note making it through the harder moments. This divorce will one day be over.
Accept that life is unfair for all of us at times.
This is challenging to accept, especially if part of your sense of identity includes trying to make life good for others. If you are the spouse who suggested leaving the marriage, it is still a scary time. You may feel you have no choice or circumstances eliminated staying as a healthy choice. If you are the spouse being left, you may feel betrayed, scared, angry, foolish, & alone simultaneously. Both spouses at one time wanted a forever marriage and had dreams of the way the days of your life would unfold. Now, you must create a new life, new dreams. By accepting the unfairness of it all as part of life, your step forward is lighter because you do not have the weight and ache of bitterness.
Grieving is the loss of your marriage is healthy.
Don’t be hard on yourself for not meeting the demands or timetable of others who proclaim that you should be over it all by now. Be kind to yourself. Be proud of yourself for being willing to feel the pain and get through it. You are setting the foundation for healthy future relationships of all kinds.
Build your team.
Many “friends” will hightail it out of your life when they learn of your divorce. They may fair it is contagious or not want to experience any form of discomfort. Friends who do care remain and new friends who want to be there for you are in your future. Encourage yourself to be open minded to making new friends. You will need a support team during this time. Divorce should not be endured alone. Consider a support group for people who are going through a divorce. People who know exactly what you are going through are going to be good listeners.
If you had been abused, understand that this was not your fault and get the professional help you need right away.
If you have not been abused, but feel fear or discomfort about interacting with your spouse about the children, it’s critical that you create a detailed plan concerning what you will do if, when interacting with them, emotions or actions escalate. Do you have a pastor, rabbi, or therapist that can help you address these issues in advance? Should the principal at your children’s school be made aware of any specifics? Have you asked your lawyer about your different options? Should the police be made aware of firearms or other issues? Protect yourself and your children, only then can you engage in productive communication and planning.
Realize that people act out of character when under intense stress.
Does your husband or wife suddenly appear unfamiliar? When under intense stress, people adopt behaviors and mannerisms as a way of coping. Some people begin acting the way they had at an earlier stage of their lives. Sometimes latent personality characteristics are triggered by anxiety. The person you knew is still in there, they just may not be appearing for a while.
Take care of your children.
Children are often not able to share difficult emotions. Some children act out while others go overboard to be good. Schoolwork may suffer. Discuss your children’s well-being with their teachers or possibly a pediatrician. If you sense they may need to talk to a child therapist, trust your instinct and take them to see someone who can help them to deal with their pain and heal.
Protect the innocence of your children.
Children can grow up healthy and adjusted despite a divorce. However, the risk of not doing so increases when they are exposed to parental conflict, blame, or name-calling. Speak highly of your former partner as a parent. Your child identifies with both parents and labeling a parent as bad puts your child at risk for adopting that label for him or herself.
Take care of yourself.
Your life will resume when this divorce is over. You want to feel healthy and strong as you encounter new opportunities for you and your children. Do yoga or get out for sunset walks. Eat healthy and nutritious food. Feed your soul with a good book or some times spent painting or creating, go to a museum, or visit a house of worship or meditation. As you embrace your life, your children will realize that life will return to a new normal.
Learn about all of your options.
There is always more than one way to approach the legal, financial, emotional, parenting, and lifestyle issues that must be considered in divorce. Be open-minded. Educate yourself about different possibilities.
If you have questions, feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.