It goes without saying that everyone is aware what divorce is – and its adverse side- effects. However, not everyone has undergone divorce. Coping with divorce is not a cup of tea. Divorce is difficult and the involved parties find it hard to concentrate on the days’ work which renders them unproductive. It is one of the most painful things that a human being can undergo. In most cases the affected individuals, including children, go through a period of stress. Worse still, they could be hit by an extreme case of apathy, leading to depression.
When a divorce occurs, the way forward is very difficult to chart. No one is certain of what next to do; the partners may even consider getting back together in rare cases. Most of the take it as a spilled milk and start a new life altogether. During the (mostly) heart- wrenching process of separation, some words can be said – which cannot be taken back. So, time for the million – dollar question: how do the affected people from pick up the pieces of their lives and go about coping with their divorce?
Coping with divorce
So, it has finally happened. Everyone has moved out and is starting to build their lives once more. Here are the things that may come in handy when going through divorce.
1. Accept that it has happened
This is the most fundamental thing that you have to do for yourself. It may not be any easy thing to deal with as it sounds. Most people may undergo a period of denial for a time span, depending on how their marriage was working – and the circumstances surrounding how the divorce or separation papers were served. The partners who had a shaky marriage relationship to begin with, takes a shorter time to accept the reality, since it will feel like a burden has been lifted off their shoulders.
The hardest hit people, however, may be the children, who may feel that they are to blame. Therefore, a way to rationalize them is to prepare them for the impending separation, making sure that communication is never cut off from them. They should also be absolved of any blame, if indeed they were not to blame. Therefore, everyone should accept that it has come to pass, even if they did not see it coming.
Partners whose marriage seemed to be working often take a long time to accept that it divorce. Accepting that you are not the first to go through divorce and probably you won’t be the last goes a long way in coping with divorce. The challenge with accepting what happen is shifting blame to yourself and thinking that if you had done this or that the situation would have been better. Dwelling on that may be hurtful to anybody – but since it is a mutual thing, just let it pass and accept it.
2. Recognizing that becoming emotional is okay
Another process of divorce is to recognize that being emotional is alright. Allow yourself some time to feel sorrow and weep for the relationship that was. People may fear becoming emotional and these may affect them in the future, if they keep on bottling it up. Emotions may sometimes be intense during this time.
It is okay to feel sad, bad, exhausted and frustrated the feeling will go away over time. A feeling of anxiety about the future is also okay. It is part of the grieving process to be angry as well. Shedding a few tears here and there will prove to be helpful in the long run. They are instrumental in getting over all assortment of feelings of loss, including coping with divorce.
The reason for this is that divorce may seem to symbolize a loss for all those years you spent together, building the relationship and facing the world together. As with any significant loss, it is normal to feel deeply wronged by the ‘universe’. There are five stages overall: being in denial that divorce could happen in your family, feeling angry at the partner who are divorcing and at yourself, bargaining and asking ‘what if’, depression and finally acceptance. Cry a river and let all the pain be washed down the bridge.
Remember that you still have a future. When in a marriage or any relationship, people have their expectations, plans and dreams. They may have spent a long time looking forward to the realization of these goals, never having made a contingency for whatever will happen if the marriage goes to shambles.
Letting go of all those expectations may be the hardest, but it is time to move on. Yes, the relationship may have gone to dust, even if everyone is seeming civil about it. You still have a future -and now is the time to go for it without fear. The important thing is to know that the future may not be as you had pictured it.
3. Not going through divorce alone
Divorce requires sharing how you feel with an understanding family member or a close friend. Being isolated from people who care pulls down the process. Isolation concentrates the stress level which leads to depression and may lead to worse problems like resorting to alcohol or feeling worthless. Joining a support group is also another possible solution. Consider seeking help from a professional.
There are also online forums made up of people who listen, care and offer some healthy pieces of advice about divorce. They are made up of people who are undergoing the same thing – or those who have already been through marriage. The world is full of people with good hearts, who can give you moral support and help in the recovery process. Yes no matter how bad things may look, there are people going through worse. Sharing the burden will help ease the pain.
The great thing with life is how easy it is to make friends. If possible, join a local club, where you will be able to meet new people and make friends who will help with divorce. Cultivate these friendships and make the most out of them, since sometimes, people may lose even their social networks during the separation process.
Divorce is somewhat easier if you can let go of the friendships that no longer matter; especially the shared friends who sided with the other party during the process. However, take care not to be overwhelmed by feelings of bitterness when approaching these issues.
4. The Power of Positive thinking
Thinking positively helps in the coping process. It helps in breaking away from the clutches of apathy and restores self esteem to healthy levels. It allows you to start growing anew, with a completely blank page to write and a new lease in life. Perhaps there was a reason behind the separation – maybe it was a way of breaking away from a stifling and harmful relationship. If possible, start the process of accepting that life is no longer the same, straight away.
Again, there are numerous stories online of people who have gone against all odds and became better people after undergoing the separation. Deciding to move on or not is a personal choice though. It is a matter of being open to new things, meeting new people and even putting some effort into realizing the lifelong dreams.
Positive thinking is not only a necessary but sufficient. There is a story of someone who was divorced and lost a job; and instead of wallowing in self pity, he took a friend and rode for 11000 miles, from San Francisco to the end of the road in Alaska. You do not have to do the same thing. Who is to stop you from becoming the best you ever could be?
However, do not be too hard on yourself and life. Take life easily and not too serious. Simply seek to engage in new and mind blowing activities to take your head off the issue. You can do these with your friends or even your family members as they too may be going through what you are.
5. Take a Break
Mental health experts have a great suggestion for what to do after a divorce. One of them is to take a break, allowing yourself to operate at a pace that is less than optimal for you. Sometimes, the duress that people undergo, both financially and mentally, is too much even for the strongest of us. To regain energy, virility and some sense of confidence in life, it is imperative to relax for sometime and regroup.
After this period, hopefully, the outlook in life will be better. Keep off the wagging tongues of some people who may seek to victimize you in bitterness – if possible, cut off these type of obnoxious individuals. Stay inactive from activities which may bring you further duress, making it possible to survive while laying low. It may seem implausible, yet people end up feeling refreshed and looking forward to the future. And talking about the future:
If it is possible, set aside some time daily, that you can use to nurture yourself. For instance, you could go for a nature walk, hit the gym, cook healthy food or develop a closer relationship with the hobby that you are happy practicing. Thus, you could create a system whereby the end goal is to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally.
Pay attention to your own needs. Speak up about what you feel is good for you, even if the ex may object about them. Do not feel guilty about them, and talking about them is a great step in starting out again.
6. Listen and Reassure the Innocent
The divorcing couple is not the only party which is trying to find ways of coping with divorce. Even the kids may be going through a rough patch themselves, what with the harsh nature of the legal system to one party or the other. Sometimes, they are made to choose which parent they would like to stay with; which may prove as a harrowing process.
To counter this, it is important to be close to them and ease the process of divorce, during these hard times, regardless of their age. It is a great idea to listen to their fears and concerns, and to tell them they played no part in how things ended up. If anything, they should be encouraged to grow above the mild stigma associated with divorce in some cultures.
Helping the kids with divorce is, in itself, a process. Here are some pointers that may prove useful when helping and talking to them:
- Try to maintain their routines. Do not let the separation come in the way of what they used to have prior to the separation. Help them remain on track and be unaffected as possible. If you got 50% custody, this will be quite easy as you can set a time and place to meet and do some activities together.
- Offer discipline that is consistent. The fact that parents are now separated may bring forth a complex issue, since they are being raised in a different manner. It is important to give some rules that are consistent for both parents, and not contradicting them. For instance, if the kids are still young enough, they should have bedtimes that are agreed upon by both parents.
- Do not involve them in the conflict. As tempting as it may be, do not talk in a negative manner about the other parent in front of the children. This will immensely help them to cope with divorce. If possible, or applicable, let them know that you support their spending time with the other partner.
- Let them know that you have their back. Make promises that are realistic to them, and ensure that you keep them. Most importantly, do not let them know too much about how you feel about the whole divorce process and what it means to you.
The Bottom Line
Coping with your divorce is the beginning of a long process of healing. It may be hard, yet with some effort, you can do it – and walk out of it unscathed, or with as few scars as possible. Remember to learn important lessons about yourself and relationship in this life- changing event.