Regardless of the circumstances divorce is a significant loss, and people grieve the loss of a marriage in many ways. You might feel shocked, depressed, or angry at what occurred. Many times people experience guilt for things they wish they had done or said differently. In any divorce situation, it’s important to give yourself time to grieve. There’s no need to push away your emotions, and there isn’t a timeline for when you should “snap out of it.” Talking with a counselor or support group is a great way to work through your grief.
Life after Divorce
Though it may be difficult to grasp, there is hope and life after a divorce. The following tips offer practical wisdom during this transition:
Practice self-care- When dealing with divorce, you need to support yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. Staying physically active can help you feel better and experience less stress, anger, and anxiety. Embracing positive coping methods is always wiser than turning toward negative behaviors.
Find positive people- Anyone can be negative, and it’s tempting to find others who will encourage you to complain about life or your former spouse. Instead, choose to surround yourself with supportive, positive people that can help you reframe your losses into opportunity.
Focus on what you can control- Learning to let go can be difficult. Instead of dwelling on things you can’t change, think about what you can control. This will help you stay more positive and keep your mind and body healthy. Because you’re not responsible for how others think and feel, focus on your own outlook. Making a to-do list of important tasks can be a great way to help you feel like you have control again.
Avoid impulsive decisions- When you’re in transition avoid making huge life decisions. There might be a thrill from a major purchase or hasty career change, but you could regret it after you have weighed the pros and cons.
Do what you enjoy- It’s important to socialize and spend time with supportive friends and family members. You shouldn’t feel guilty for making time for activities and hobbies you enjoy.
Avoid unhealthy coping methods- The emotional stress of divorce can lead us to make poor life choices. Watch out for negative ways of dealing with your emotions. Unhealthy behaviors might include:
- Drugs, alcohol, gambling, or risky sexual behavior
- Following, stalking, or seeking revenge against your ex
- Making impulsive purchases or choices
- Acting angry and/or violent toward others
- Entering a new relationship quickly
Cooperate and Communicate- There’s still a benefit to you and your family by communicating with your former spouse, especially when it involves your children. Seeing interactions as a battle to be won doesn’t help anyone.
Children and Divorce
The majority of divorces occur where there are children under the age of 18. Because parents represent a sense of security for a child, it can become scary and confusing when they see their parent(s) hurting or distracted. Many parents worry about how divorce will impact their children. The following information will help you guide your kids through the transition of life after a divorce:
Assure your love- Children often misinterpret the situation and accept blame, thinking the divorce is their fault. They can also deal with fears of abandonment. Therefore, it’s critical to emphasize your love for them. Reassure your children that you will never leave them. It’s important to listen to their fears. Remind your children that your love for them won’t change, even if the family looks a little different than before.
Establish routine- Traditions and routines provide stability for a child in an uncertain time. These can be as simple as reading before bedtime or an evening walk after dinner. The key is consistency. Consider discussing a plan with your former spouse to maintain similarity between the two households.
Be flexible- It’s important to remain flexible if your ex is unable to visit or has a conflict. Having a fun, alternative activity is a great option for those unexpected times. Also, encourage your child to enjoy their time with their other parent. Avoid looking disappointed or upset when they leave, so as not to miscommunicate emotions to your child.
Be amicable in front of the kids- It’s wise to avoid fighting with your ex in front of your children. Never use children as messengers, spies, or a sounding board for your complaints. Children who witness angry and volatile disagreements are more likely to adjust poorly to the divorce. The best transitions are when children are encouraged to have positive relationships with both parents.
Divorce never affects only one person. It’s painful and difficult, but there is help available. Be courageous and seek out therapy, family counseling, or support groups. Allow the experiences of others to help you in this transition time.
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