Did you fantasize about divorce for years, and now that it’s actually happening, it’s hitting you harder than you expected? Or, did you think that you were going to be married forever, but suddenly, your spouse dropped the divorce bomb and now you’re in shock? Or, did you see divorce on the horizon, but you’re still having difficulty coping? Regardless of what happened and how you got to this point, it’s highly likely that you’re going through a difficult time right now.
Your spouse could have been emotionally abusive. Perhaps one of you cheated. Or, perhaps your careers kept you both so busy, that you grew apart and you felt bored with the marriage. Regardless of the reason for the divorce, it has a way of turning people’s worlds upside down. Divorce usually makes it difficult for people to get through the workday, and it can put a big damper on their productivity. Fortunately, though, there are tips that we can share that can help you through this adjustment period.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Recognize that your emotions may be all over the place for a while. You may be happy one minute and sad or angry the next. If you are exhausted, low energy, have anxiety or are having difficulty concentrating, understand that this is only normal. Even if the marriage was rocky or unhealthy and the divorce is for the best, it’s still common for people in these situations to be anxious about the future. If you’re fearful or are experiencing unpleasant feelings, these intense feelings will lessen as time passes.
Don’t isolate yourself. It may be tempting to bottle all of your feelings up inside, but it’s best not to go through this alone. You should share your feelings with trusted friends and family who can offer you emotional support during this difficult time. If you isolate yourself from the world, it can affect your concentration, make you less productive, and increase your stress levels. If you need to see a therapist, don’t be afraid to start seeing one.
Take good care of yourself. For starters, you want to give yourself a break. You may find cleaning and organizing to be therapeutic, but on the other hand, you may have trouble functioning at first. Give yourself permission to function at less than optimum levels for a little while, but don’t let it go on too long to the point where it’s unhealthy. As you take time to heal, focus on your health. Get plenty of rest. Eat healthy food, and exercise. Avoid self-destructive behaviors like too much alcohol, smoking, and illegal drugs because they will not help you cope in a healthy manner.
Stay away from power struggles. Your emotions may be very raw right now, especially if something big happened like someone cheated, or your spouse seriously broke your heart in some way. Even still, it’s important to set your emotions aside and to avoid power struggles. If you feel your anger coming on, it’s time to take a step away and cool down. Avoid talking to your spouse when your emotions are intense. If a phone conversation starts to get heated, calmly tell your ex that you’ll finish the discussion later.
Explore what interests you. Distractions can be very healthy during a divorce, whether this means hitting the gym, hiking, taking a long walk on the beach, volunteering, spending time with friends and family, signing up for a class, or exploring things that interest you. The idea is to do something that excites you, to find joy in life, and to look for ways to distract you from the divorce.
Focus on your kids. If you have minor children with your spouse, you should be focusing on them anyway because it’s the right thing to do. Reassure them that the divorce is not their fault, and shower them with love and affection. Remember, there is a very good chance that your kids are going through a hard time too, so listen to them.
Your children may want to sit on the couch and talk for hours on end, or they may want to spend extra time with friends for distraction, or they may want to get out of the house and do things with you that gets their minds off the divorce. Be prepared: they may hit you with some unexpected emotions, and that’s okay.
Focus on the future. There is a lot of power in thinking positively. You just suffered a true loss, but it’s important to shift your focus to the future. What do you want to do with your life? Do you have dreams you’ve always wanted to pursue? You may want to make new friends, take up new hobbies, and take time to truly enjoy life. If you have children, you can honor family traditions with a few tweaks, but you can also make new ones.
Prepare for a new normal. If there’s one thing that’s for sure, things change after divorce. It may not be drastic at first, but five years from now, your life may look very different. You may want to maintain routines that you like and take comfort in, but expect to adjust to a new normal too, especially if you take our advice and explore new things that interest you. By facing the unknown and the future with a zest for life, you could be very pleased with the way things turn out.