Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful life events a person faces. Whether your marriage lasted a few years or several decades, everyone has to adjust to living a new life without your spouse. Although there's nothing you can do to erase the hurt, disappointment, betrayal, confusion, or anger you may feel in your divorce, there are steps you can take to come out with your mental, physical, and emotional well-being intact. Learn how to survive your divorce by caring for yourself and your kids and thoroughly planning for the future.
Method 1 of 3:Taking Care of Yourself
1Give yourself a span of time to mourn. Even if the process of your marriage coming to an end took several years, you still may experience a new, raw pain when the curtain finally closes. Know that it's perfectly acceptable to grieve the end of your marriage—it was a very important relationship in your life.
Just like any other type of grief, everyone grieves differently after divorce. You are the only one who gets to decide what that looks like or how long it takes.
Grieving can take on many forms. You may cry, withdraw from friends or family, or find it difficult to get excited about interesting things happening in your life. All of this is normal.
2Surround yourself with supportive people. Supportive people may look different on any given day; you may find yourself looking to friends for a distraction while a support group may be best for relating to others who have been there too.Expert SourceJin S. Kim, MALicensed Marriage & Family TherapistExpert Interview. 14 May 2019.
There may be times where the best form of support is a distraction, that's where a good group of friends comes in handy because they will probably be more than happy to find something fun to do if all you need to do is anything besides divorce “stuff”.
Support groups can be a great place to really explore the feelings tied to the divorce since they usually have a set start and end time, allow that small block of time each week to dive into things and deal with the feelings. It is also a good way to form boundaries with others if you do not want to talk about it with them since you can nicely let them know you are attending a group to talk about things.
3Exercise and eat right. You may find yourself feeling a variety of emotions, but going without eating or not keeping up with normal gym times will only make those feelings worse. The divorce process also often takes a lot of formal paperwork so being at your mental best is important.Expert SourceJin S. Kim, MALicensed Marriage & Family TherapistExpert Interview. 14 May 2019.
Many people simply forget to eat when under stress or the opposite they overeat to mask feelings. Try to remind yourself to eat a healthy diet to stay focused on what needs to be done and to stay healthy.
Eating right also includes not falling into the trap of drinking more alcohol or depending on extra coffee to mask emotions or not sleeping. It is better to address the underlying issue instead of using some sort of substance to hide the cause.
4 Manage your stress. Make sure you have outlets to relieve the stress that comes with getting a divorce. Stress management can cover a range of options, including meditation, listening to music, getting a massage at the spa, or playing with a pet. Make time daily, if possible, to do something that relaxes you and eases your stress.
Self-medicating with alcohol, drugs or even too much caffeine is not managing your stress, it is just numbing it.
5See a therapist, if needed. Some people going through a divorce may stop eating, stop performing at work, and feel hopeless about the future. Depression is common during such an ordeal. A marriage and family therapist counselor can help you work through your emotions and venting by offering you personalized support without judgment, and they can help you sort out your life.Expert SourceJin S. Kim, MALicensed Marriage & Family TherapistExpert Interview. 14 May 2019.
Such a therapist can also help you sort through logistical details like talking about the divorce with your children or how to know when you're ready to start dating again.
Your divorce lawyer may be able to refer you to a quality therapist who is experienced in working with people going through divorce.
Method 2 of 3:Planning for the Future
1Decide if you need to change jobs or get a job to increase income. If you are a stay-at-home parent, explore what type of arrangement will support the household going forward.
Depending on the divorce agreement, moving may or may not be an option. That is important to keep in mind if you are looking for a new job since you may need to stay in the local area.
2Develop a personal budget to track your expenses. Even if you end up getting spousal support, you still need to learn how to manage household expenses on your own.
Tracking how you spend your money will give you a better idea about areas that may need to change or be cut all together. Suddenly going from two incomes to one will change the disposable income.
Mistakes in the settlement process can impact you far beyond the immediate future. That's why it's very important to thoroughly understand the process and your rights.
3 Set SMART goals. The divorce requires that you rethink the trajectory of your life completely. Choose a few goals to move towards over the next months and years, such as buying a home or going back to school. SMART goals are those that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely
Get a sheet of paper and write out goals that meet these criteria. Then, come up with actionable steps you can take to reach them. Return to your goals on a regular basis to track your progress.
4Get a hobby. After being a part of a couple for any length of time, you may find yourself a bit lost if you suddenly have free time. Trying a new hobby is a way to explore something new, and to meet new people without the pressure of dating too soon.
A hobby is also a good distraction if you go from a full time parent to the children being gone part of the time; it gives you something to do as you get used to the free time.
Even before you are ready to date again, you need to take time for yourself.
5Revisit old passions. With the responsibilities of marriage you may have sacrificed some of your previous passions. Perhaps you always wanted to go back to school. Or, you once enjoyed baking, but soon lost the energy to create complex recipes. Maybe you simple enjoyed reading yourself to sleep or practicing a certain religion.
Consider a passion or pastime that you once enjoyed and consider trying it out again. Your divorce could represent a door opening for you to rediscover a long lost love.
6Take as much time as you need before dating again. You may hear all sorts of advice about when you should date or “get back on the horse” so to speak, but your own personal feelings on the subject matter the most. Only get back out there when you have dealt with your divorce emotionally and mentally and feel capable of being a true partner in a new relationship. Here are some tips for getting back out there.
Don't divulge too much information about yourself too soon. Spoon-feed on the details until you feel comfortable that the connection is going somewhere.
Relax your expectations and decrease the pressure. Instead of dating to look for a long-term partner, just start off having a good time.
Try creating an online profile. Casually messaging someone online might reduce some of your newly dating nerves. However, be sure to practice safe dating methods and protect yourself, if you decide to meet in-person.
Method 3 of 3:Raising Children of Divorce
1Break the news together. The children will handle the news better if they see that both of you are involved in the choice, even if that isn't fully the case, and you will remain their parents regardless of the divorce.
Before you have the talk with the children, take a bit of time together to decide how you will answer the questions about why you are divorcing. Both of you need to be on the same page about the “why” and not placing blame on one party or the other.
2Encourage your child(ren) to ask questions. They may often be fearful of what life is going to look like from now on, so be ready for a lot of logistical questions. Allow the children to ask you both anything, but also understand you may not have all the answers and that's OK. They may want to know about where they will live in the future or if you will remarry. Those issues are not easily answered and you can always tell them you do not know yet.
If they ask questions about why the two of you are divorcing, this is not the time to pour your heart out to them. They are not your support system, and they do not need to know details about what has happened.
Even if you are not sure where everyone will end up living, reassure the children that they will be safe and have access to both parents. Security is a big part of their fear at this point, seeing that both parents are on the same page even if one moves physically out will help.
Part of supporting the children through this process is also giving them the freedom to talk about it with you and with others if they need to. Feeling like they need to keep this “secret” can be very stressful for children, tell them who else you are telling so they know other adults they can talk to if they need to.
3Don't offer false hope. Set clear boundaries as far as which parent is staying in the home and what time with either one of you will look like.
As the children process this news, they need to know what to expect. This means being clear about what happens after one of you moves out and how your family will look going forward. The parent who moves out should not be staying over, for example, since this sends a mixed message.
Of course, some married couples are able to eventually work things out, but this is not always the case. If you are trying to work things out, this should not be done in front of the children, in case it does not work.
4Be amicable with your spouse. Your marriage is ending but you are both still adults, staying civil with the soon to be ex-spouse will make co-parenting easier.
Your children may feel like they are stuck in the middle if they see one or both of you angry at the other. They need to know they do not need to make a choice as far as only “loving” one of you. In addition, it is not fair to them to say negative things about your spouse to them.
During the transition, there may be times where things feel awkward, but they should never get to the point where either of you react out of anger or violence. Your spouse is no longer a love interest, but he or she will always be a parent. Focus on that.
Neither parent should ask the children to supply details about the other parent like if he or she is dating anyone new or other non-essential details. That's not related to the children and it's not any of your business.
5Attend family therapy. The fact is, even after a divorce, you are still family because you share a child or children. Addressing the adjustment for the new dynamics or giving each member of the family time to openly talk about their feelings is a good use of family therapy.
Children do need to understand this is not a time to force their parents back together, it is about moving forward with the new separation.
The therapist may see the family all together or different variations of the group depending on what needs to be discussed.