When a relationship ends you don’t just divorce a partner, you divorce a life. The life together and future plans you built around the relationship are ending. You also enter a lengthy, and potentially draining, legal process. It can feel like you’re starting a marathon run without any prior training.
How can you stay resilient through this challenging process?
1. Get physically healthy.
If you do not have an exercise routine, now is the time to start. Try walking, joining a gym, or taking community classes. Anything that gets you moving helps you feel better about yourself, and improves your health when you need it the most.
2. Stay organized.
Divorce is a confusing and overwhelming process. Keeping all your records and personal documents well-organized goes a long way in giving you some sense of control. A notebook by your bedside can be a great resource when those burning questions about the legal process or financial matters pop into your head in the middle of the night. Jotting down questions to research in the morning can help you get back to sleep. A file box to keep legal documents can help you maintain organization and a sense of keeping “it” separate from your daily routine.
3. Have a plan to manage your emotions.
Divorce is painful, scary, and sometimes a lonely process. Resist the urge to do something when emotions overwhelm you. Get off Facebook or other social media. Don’t let sleepless, 3am emotions turn into communications that you will regret. Try shutting off your phone, and putting your computer away at night. Again, have a notebook by your bed to write out a long rant if needed. If you cannot keep yourself from writing an email, draft it, do not send it, until you have reviewed it in the morning.
4. Stabilize your life as much as you can.
Don’t move if you can avoid it. If necessary, consider taking a temporary apartment in your neighborhood (especially if you have children). Don’t change jobs, make extravagant purchases, or start new romantic relationships. You need your energy to focus and move forward with your life.
Anger will eventually be replaced by a need to mourn what has ended. Whether or not you wanted a divorce does not matter. When a life you had planned is over, give yourself time to grieve and let go so your future can open up. Forgive yourself if necessary be kind to yourself always.
6. Explore what is important to you now.
Are there interests you put aside when you got married or started a family? Get curious about what has meaning for you now. Take classes, read about new things, and create a “Wish Board” full of pictures to inspire a new beginning. Focus on your future.
7. Get support along the way.
An attorney can handle the legal issues. Other professionals, like a counselor or knowledgeable finance expert can help your understand the issues, many times more affordable than an attorney. Friends and family may or may not understand what you are going through, but unbiased support is critical. Find a Divorce Coach who can help you stay organized, future focused, and resilient through the process.
Following these seven steps will empower you, educate you and remove much of the fear and uncertainty that lies ahead. Remember this: When relationships end and nothing is certain, everything becomes possible.