Why is it that some people move on rather quickly after a divorce, while others don’t seem to move on with their lives? This question enters the minds of many spouses as they contemplate their own divorce, hoping that they won’t fall into the latter category. Supported spouses especially, tend to have these concerns:
- I’m afraid of relying on myself.
- Will I find a job that I like?
- Can I make it without my spouse’s support?
When spouses are tied together through children and finances, this entanglement can make moving on even more difficult. Often, moving on from divorce can be much harder for supported spouses (namely women) who remain closely connected through child custody, child support, and spousal support.
If you’re a stay-at-home parent, who will be relying on your ex for financial support for the next several years, how do you move on from the divorce when you continue to see your ex weekly and rely on him or her for financial support? What if he begins dating again, and his or her new partner enters the picture? How do you become financially independent and regain your confidence?
Even though this may be a great challenge for you, it’s important to focus on yourself and your happiness, especially if you have children with your ex. The best possible gift you can give your children at this point is a happy parent. Focusing on what makes you happy is not a selfish move; quite the contrary. When you’re happy, it’s contagious and it will help your children cope with the divorce better.
Whether you’re the husband or wife headed for divorce, it will be easier for you to rebuild your life by focusing on being happy. The smartest spouses choose happiness over misery. Here are four attitudes that the smartest spouses adopt to speed up the recovery process.
1. No more feeling sorry for yourself.
Roughly half of all first marriages in the United States end in divorce. For second and third marriages, the risk of divorce is even greater. So, as someone who is getting divorced, you have plenty of company. Decide that once you hit the one year mark, you’ll no longer feel sorry for yourself.
In the first year, it’s normal to feel anger, grief, and resentment about the breakdown of the marriage. But after 12 months have passed, it’s time to stop mourning your loss and focus on rebuilding your future. Regardless of what your spouse might have done or is still doing, you don’t want the pain of your divorce to destroy your happiness.
2. Accept the fact that your finances will change.
It costs more to pay for two households than one, so whether you’re the husband or the wife, you will probably experience a reduced quality of life or lifestyle after you get divorced. If you’re accustomed to a five-bedroom home in a gated community, you may move into a smaller home in a more affordable neighborhood. If you’ve been a homemaker, you may have to go back to work and if you’ll be paying child and spousal support, you may have less disposable income than before.
If you’re like most spouses, you will experience some reduction in lifestyle. If this happens to you, accept it and find ways to increase your income in the future. Take this opportunity to spend quality time with your children; for example, take them hiking, camping, to the beach, the park, and on bike rides. Instead of dining out, have fun preparing meals with your children, all the while building lasting memories.
When the timing is right, find ways to increase your annual income, whether this means going back to school, increasing your hours, or finding a higher-paying job. When you take control of your financial destiny, it leads to peace of mind and a boost in self-confidence.
3. Create a financial plan.
Arguably, one of the scariest aspects of divorce is how it makes spouses feel financially insecure, and understandably so. In our experience, the smartest spouses take the financial reigns before, during and after their divorce. If you’re in a high-net-worth marriage, we recommend hiring a financial planner or accountant at the onset of your divorce. This financial professional can help protect your best interests financially during and after the divorce and create a roadmap for the next 10 or more years. While this may seem overwhelming at first, it will put you in control of your financial future and it will be empowering.
4. Accept that you can’t change your ex.
Just realize that all those issues that led to your divorce, will probably still be there afterward. Divorce does not magically make problems go away. If you couldn’t change your spouse while you were married, you certainly can’t expect to change him or her after the divorce. So, it’s important to make peace with the fact that you cannot change your ex-husband or wife.
Since you probably know your ex better than anyone, you want to pick your battles and try to be as pleasant and mature as possible when you’re dealing with ongoing issues relating to your children. Unfortunately, dealing with your ex is a reality of divorce that you’ll have to contend with for the rest of your life when you have children together. If you don’t like something your ex says or does and they’re not hurting anybody, it’s okay to let go and realize that you can’t control what he or she says and does, but you can control how you react to it.
Once your divorce is in motion, commit to your happiness. Put an expiration date on your inner suffering and once that date arrives (or before), shift your focus to your happiness and rebuilding your life after the divorce.
For caring and compassionate representation in your divorce case, contact Claery & Green, LLP to meet with one of our Los Angeles divorce attorneys.