Marriage is a beautiful thing. It’s good not only for the physical and mental well-being of the couple but also for their children. However, based on American Psychological Association reports, up to 50% of married couples end up filing for divorce. The rate is even higher for subsequent marriages.
Coping with divorce is never child’s play. While dealing with all the pain and grief, you want to make sure you’re heading towards the right direction. To do this, you need all the help you can get. Taking this into account, we’ve asked 30+ relationship experts:
“What’s your #1 tip for coping with divorce?”
HOW TO COPE WITH DIVORCE AND WHAT TO EXPECT
We all know it – separation or divorce is more painful than it seems. This is true even when the feelings have gone down, or the relationship itself has turned sour. Separation and divorce can mean the loss not only of the domestic partnership but also of the commitment and dreams built with a loved one. When a couple breaks up, having a feeling of stress, disappointment, and depression is completely inevitable especially if there are children involved.
After a divorce, your usual routine may get a little disorganized. You may find yourself having problems with focusing on the task at hand, taking basic care of yourself, tending to your children’s needs, and connecting with friends and family. Even your identity might get mixed up. At the same time, you might start worrying about the future.
Are you going to be okay without your partner?
Will there be another relationship for you?
What if you end up alone?
These questions can add up, making you feel much worse. The pain, uncertainty, and depression are all but normal. You may also develop eating disorders, which is pretty common. To cope after divorce, it’s important to always remind yourself that this is just a phase and you definitely can and will pass through it no matter what. At the end of the day, you need to give yourself permission move on and face life’s challenges as a stronger and wiser individual.
- With kids: Pay close attention with how your children are coping with the new family dynamic. If you think they need to speak with someone, take them. Do not hesitate and let their behavior come to a head before getting them help. This is a stressful situation for a child to go through and they need the attention they deserve.
- If you initiated the divorce: Be prepared for the possible mudslinging and overcome it. Mudslinging, or speaking poorly of one another accomplishes nothing. Don’t waste your time on it even if your spouse is!
- If you think your spouse is cheating: Gather as much information as to what they are spending on wining and dining their paramours.
- If you are a stay at home parent: Pay close attention to how your children are coping and familiarize yourself with your finances. Figure out if your spouse makes enough to maintain two households. If they can’t, you need to start thinking about your employability.
Here are 9 strategies to help cope with divorce and separation.
REALIZE THAT IT’S OKAY TO GET ALL EMOTIONAL
Anyone going through divorce experiences all sorts of unhappy feelings, and it’s a pretty normal part of the grieving process. One moment you’re sad and exhausted; the other, you’re angry, frustrated, and anxious. In the beginning, these divorce emotions may get a little intense. Recognize that your reactions are okay, but they will eventually fade through time. It’s important to recognize when emotions begin to affect the state of your health care. Be open with trusted family and friends when you need support, as mental disorders and eating disorders can often go unrecognized during times of high stress. While remaining cognizant of your psychological well-being, you’re going through the grieving process, so it’s perfectly fine to be yourself.
BARBARA J. PETERS
Barbara J. Peters is a Licensed Relationship Counselor and Author of 3 books. She’s passionate about helping couples regain the love that brought them together. She tweets as @CouplesAuthor on Twitter.[clickToTweet tweet=”Allow yourself to focus on the next journey and be patient with yourself. @CouplesAuthor” quote=”Stay away from the word failure and fault. Allow yourself to focus on the next journey and be patient with yourself through the many different feelings you will have. They will change with time.”]
Aaron Anderson is a Marriage Counselor and Relationship Expert. He founded Marriage and Family Clinic and The Relationship Rx. Connect with Aaron on Twitter.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Remember you have time. When couples divorce there’s a lot of anxiety and fear about what lies ahead. @MarriageDr” quote=”Remember you have time. When couples decide to divorce there’s a lot of anxiety and fear about what lies ahead. But remember that you don’t have to figure it all out right away. Most divorces take between 3-6 months to finalize, so you have some time to figure it out. Don’t rush yourself and make calculated decisions. This will also help you emotionally cope if you’re not feeling in a time crunch”]
Beverly Willett is a writer and a former lawyer. She blogs about divorce and just about anything personal on her website. Tweet with Beverly on Twitter.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Living without the regret of not being true to myself helped strengthen me to face the future. @BeverlyWillett” quote=”In the long-run, being true to my beliefs mattered most, even though the family courts punished me for standing up for marriage and anonymous haters on-line trashed me. But I didn’t want a divorce, loved my husband, and wanted to protect my family. Living without the regret of not being true to myself helped strengthen me to face the future.”]
DON’T DEAL WITH THE SITUATION ALONE
During this difficult time, you’d need your friends and family more. Share with them how you feel to lessen your burden. You may also want to visit a marriage and family therapist or counselor. According to reports, counseling helps to improve emotional health 90% of the time.
Alternatively, you can join a support group so that you can share your thoughts with others going through the same situation. Letting it loose is also good for your spirituality. Never isolate yourself as this will only lead to higher stress levels, reduced concentration, and even negative health care effects. If you’re not ready to discuss the divorce in person, there are many internet-based support groups, as well as divorce blogs, where you’ll find a supportive community to help you through the grieving process.
If you or others are noticing physical or behavioral issues, there is nothing wrong with seeking clinical intervention. It’s not uncommon to see divorcees dealing with eating disorders and mental disorders, all while battling in the courts as the divorce moves forward.
Brita Long is a lifestyle blogger, a feminist, and a freelance writer. Catch more of Brita on her personal website or her Twitter account.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Establish a strong support system. Your family and friends want to help you. @belle_brita” quote=”Establish a strong support system. Your family and friends want to help you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them for emotional support, for entertaining distractions, and for advice on starting your single life.”]
Justine Froelker is an infertility advocate and therapist. She blogs about infertility and her life journey on her personal website. Join Justine on Twitter.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Work with a counselor to find your truth, use your voice, and learn effective coping. @JustineFroelker” quote=”When going through divorce it is imperative to seek outside support. Divorce can make us feel so alone, when I promise you are not. It can also make us sit in and choose anger over the more difficult to feel emotions like shame, fear, hurt, and loneliness. Working with a coach or counselor can help us to find your truth, use your voice, learn effective coping and communication skills, and find your resiliency through a difficult time.”]
Kevin A. Thompson
Kevin A. Thompson is the Lead Pastor of Community Bible Church in Greater Fort Smith Region. He blogs about wisdom, marriage, faith, and parenting. Follow Kevin on Twitter.
[clickToTweet tweet=”We need assistance. We must seek and accept help from others – counselors, friends, family, etc. @kevinathompson” quote=”Get help. We rarely cope well alone. We need assistance. We must seek and accept help from others – counselors, friends, family, etc.”]
Lisa Murray is a Professional Therapist, Author, and Speaker. Connect with Lisa on Twitter.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Don’t walk it alone. Get support from a good therapist, support groups, churches, family, friends. @_Lisa_Murray” quote=”If there was one tip for people going through divorce, I would say, don’t walk it alone. You need all the emotional support you can get from a good therapist, support groups, churches, family, friends. People tend to isolate during this process, and that can often make things worse, leading to severe depression and other mental health issues. Get support, grieve and you will get through this. There is life after divorce.”]
Paul Hokemeyer is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He also works as a news analyst and contributor, with some of his work used in Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, FOX News, CNN, the Today Show, Katie, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, Market Watch, WebMD, Men’s Health, Women’s Day, YahooShine, Cosmopolitan, and others. Show support for Paul through Twitter.[clickToTweet tweet=”It’s important to have a core group of friends, family & professionals to carry you when you feel crushed. @drpaulnyc” quote=”Your divorce will be one of the most physically and emotionally challenging experiences you’ll live through. There are times when you think you can’t deal with the pain of the situation, but you will. This is why it’s critically important to have a core group of friends, family and professionals who carry you when you feel crushed from the weight of it all. Find three key people in your life and make a pact with them that together you’ll not just transcend the experience, but also come out stronger, more resolved in the way you live and love.”]
Julie Sibert co-authored the book Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage and blogs regularly at www.IntimacyInMarriage.com. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband Randall, their two sons and a dog named Stella (who is busy trying to destroy the yard). When Julie isn’t corralling the details of her life, you can find her drinking ridiculously overpriced coffee with a friend. Catch up with Julie on Twitter.[clickToTweet tweet=”Have 2-3 safe people who will listen and offer sound advice and make sure these are not your kids. @Intimacy4Life” quote=”Have 2-3 safe people who will listen compassionately and offer sound advice, and make sure your kids are not these confidantes. Your kids don¹t need to hear the intricate details of the divorce or your harsh feelings about your ex. Also, when the pain of the divorce feels like it is caving in on you, remember that one breath at a time is enough to get you through. There are hopeful lessons amidst the pain, but we have to be willing to see them. “]
ALWAYS, ALWAYS STRIVE TO MOVE ON
The key to moving on after the devastating process of divorce is acceptance. Despite issues that may arise, such as parent’s conflicts, utilize friends and family around you to keep you moving forward. Instead of dwelling on negative feelings or overthinking about the would-bes or the unknowns, it’s better to remind yourself that there’s still a future ahead of you and your children (if you have any). Keep yourself encouraged of the fact that you can create new dreams and aspirations in place of the old ones. While harboring resentment towards an ex may seem easy to compartmentalize, seeking an anger management specialist can help release that resentment, allowing you to move forward with your life without the “additional baggage” weighing on you.
Juana Mikels is a Speaker and Author of Choosing Him All Over Again: A Story of Romance & Redemption. On her blog, she writes about faith, marriage, parenting, disabilities, and personal experiences. Get updates from Juana by following her on Twitter.[clickToTweet tweet=”Acceptance is critical to move on and start fresh even though you never would’ve asked for divorce. @JuanaMikels” quote=”I suppose it would matter if: The person coping was a Christian The person coping was seeking divorce or it is being put on them. But having said that, divorce can be a form of suffering: Having what you don’t want (divorce), or wanting what you don’t have (the marriage). Put that way, the biggest tip I could give would be acceptance. If the person is a Christian, they already know that submission to God’s will is supreme and gives meaning and purpose to life even in the midst of undesirable circumstances. He can give perfect peace in the midst of suffering (having what we don’t want, wanting what we don’t have). Even for the non-Christian, I would say acceptance is critical to moving on and starting fresh even though you never would have asked for divorce.”]
Damon L. Jacobs
Vicki Larson is an award-winning journalist and co-author of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press) who blogs at OMG Chronicles.[clickToTweet tweet=”It’s scary & exciting to be on your own again. Open yourself to possibilities you’ve never imagined. @OMGchronicles” quote=”It’s scary and exciting to be on your own again. If you can face your fears and embrace the unknown, you open yourself up to possibilities you may never have imagined.”]
Marissa Nelson is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist & AASECT Certified Sex Therapist in Washington, DC. She’s also the Founder of IntimacyMoons Retreats, providing workshops for singles and couples working through relationship issues. View her latest tweets by following @xoxotherapy.[clickToTweet tweet=”Relieve prolonged suffering by truly forgiving yourself. Be kind to yourself. @xoxotherapy” quote=”Forgive & Focus On Yourself: Divorce is one of the most profound and transformative experiences you will go through. There will be days where you believe this is the best choice you ever made, and you should have left your ex sooner. AND there are going to be those days where you may be down in the dumps feeling guilty, responsible and like the weight of the world, and your family is completely on your shoulders. I find that the most profound lesson you could take in that would relieve prolonged suffering is truly forgiving yourself. Whatever the circumstances that brought you to this moment in your life, you are here. Living in a space of regret, anger, or blaming yourself and others does not serve you or help move you forward in the process of healing. Be kind to yourself. In this time, gentleness and self-care is of utmost importance, so accept and surrender to the roller coaster of emotions you will experience. You are completely normal, worthy and human for what you are feeling, and all of it is ok. Be focused on doing the things that nourish your soul and lift you up, and begin visualizing a spectacular future that you can begin to create starting right now.”]
DETACH FROM ALL THE DRAMA
You’ve cried it all out. You’ve shared your feelings with people you trusted most. Now it’s time to face the real deal. Try not to think of the divorce as a battle between you and your ex. Consider meditation as an alternative to court proceedings. It might be better for your children, your relationship with an ex, and also your emotions.
FIND YOUR HAPPINESS
Divorce has been very hard on you. Now it’s time to discover things that make you happy. Begin by taking care of yourself. Make a list and schedule yourself for some fun and relaxing activities. Play your favorite songs, chat with your close friends, treat yourself to a spa, read your favorite book, do yoga, or just about any activity you enjoy. Who knows, you might even discover something new! Stick to this routine to help yourself heal and feel better. By giving yourself permission to seek new happiness, you’ll find that a positive outlook will follow.
DON’T FORGET THE KIDS
More than you and your partner, your kids go through the pain and chaos of divorce, too. This is the time when parental responsibility comes of the essence. Unfortunately, children and divorce don’t blend well together. It affects their emotional intelligence, as well as child development. They could be too little to understand everything, but there are plenty of ways to help them recover.
One is by encouraging your children to share their feelings and really listening to them. There might be feelings you don’t know of so try your best to encourage them to speak up. Another is by giving them love and assurance. Your children’s day-to-day during the divorce should, as closely as possible, mimic their normal routine. Look to friends and family to help when you’re out of gas for the day and need a hand. Use actions, words, and consistency to help reassure your kids that you love them unconditionally.
Mindy R. Smith
THINK OF DIVORCE AS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR SELF-IMPROVEMENT
The end of your relationship is not the end of life. You may not realize, but divorce could eventually result to a better you. Is there something you’ve been dying to do since forever? This must be the perfect time to accomplish it! Think you’re not strong enough? Being able to surpass the complicated process of divorce just proves you are wiser, tougher, and much stronger. Being positive is good for your mental health!
Nathalie Bello started as a preschool teacher in 1999. Having a passion for assisting children and families, she decided to pursue a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She now works as a therapist for Therapeutic Solutions Counseling Center.[clickToTweet tweet=”Through all challenges, there is the ability for growth. Focus your energy on areas that you can control. ” quote=”My number one tip for anybody dealing with divorce would be to understand that through all challenges there is the ability for growth. Often times in divorce we focus on what we cannot control, for example being angry with our exes behavior. Often this does nothing to change the situation except get you more upset that you have no control over the situation. The best coping mechanism to deal with the natural emotions that arise from stressful situations is to focus your energy on areas that you are capable of controlling, such as your self-esteem and your emotional reaction. My advice would be to find different outlets, support groups, friendships or activities that make you happy with who you are. You might be grieving the loss of the future that you envisioned, but you are also winning the opportunity to be whoever you want to be.”]
Married over 40 years, Larry Bilotta is an author, Marriage Coach and Founder of the Environment Changer program. He helps people eliminate negative emotions, end anxiety and find calm in the middle of marriage chaos. Find @LarryBilotta on Twitter.[clickToTweet tweet=”Make a list of what you have and what you are grateful for to improve your feelings of self-worth. @LarryBilotta” quote=”Make a list of what you have and what you are grateful for. Read this list daily. This will improve your feelings of self-worth and help you avoid thinking about what you don’t have or what you don’t want to happen.”]
QUIT ON THINGS YOU CANNOT CONTROL.
Unfortunately, the only thing you can control at this point is yourself. Instead of exaggerating the situation, why not reconsider your plans, thoughts, and emotions? Realize that there are things you can never control such as your ex, the law, and the list goes on. Learn how to control what you can and see how the situation improves. Allow yourself permission to leave certain things in the past, regardless of how many memories are attached.
MAINTAIN A GUILTLESS RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR EX
Like it or not, you and your ex-spouse are connected through your children. While it’s easy to act all angry, annoyed, or reproachful in front of them, doing so will not go places. A better approach is to talk it out, come up with an agreement, and stay compassionate for the sake of the kids. Your children’s needs and well-being should always take priority over issues you may have with an ex.
Allison Rimland is an emotionally-focused Couple Therapist. She tweets about relationship and counseling on Twitter.[clickToTweet tweet=”Understand that your relationship is still happening, even though it is changing structure. @AllisonRimland” quote=”My #1 tip for divorcing couples is to understand that their relationship is still happening, even though it is changing structure. Divorcing couples still get into arguments, have lots of feelings, and can trigger one another. Having an outlet like counseling, together or separately, can really help to keep things productive and still allow for feelings to be shared. The divorce process can be like a powder keg of feelings that goes more smoothly when there is a feelings steam vent.”]
S. Bear Bergman
HEALING TAKES TIME
Only time will tell as to when the healing process comes to an end. So allow yourself to slow down and take a timeout. In the first few months after the divorce, try not to make any big decisions such as moving to a new city or quitting your job. Look to an internet-based divorce support group for feedback from other divorcees on their experiences with making major life decisions. Wait at least a few months when your emotions have gone down a bit before making any drastic changes to avoid regrets.
Mandy Walker is a divorce coach and mediator. She blogs to provide divorce support to thousands of viewers. Her articles have appeared on Huffington Post, Your Tango, Divorced Moms and Good Men Project. Find Mandy on Twitter.[clickToTweet tweet=”Take it step-by-step. Don’t play out worst case scenarios in your head about possible outcomes, @sincemydivorce” quote=”The best advice I can give anyone facing divorce is to do your best to take it step-by-step. That means not playing out worst case scenarios in your head and not getting worked up about possible outcomes before you know the reality. It means making decisions only when you are ready.”]
Kimberly Seltzer, owner of SeltzerStyle.com, is a Makeover Expert, Therapist, and Dating Coach based in Los Angeles. She utilizes the unique combined use of therapy, in-field date coaching, and styling to help people with their confidence and dating life. For a free consultation, sign up here http://bit.ly/2shKDJ5.[clickToTweet tweet=”Stop, slow down, and focus on you. Take time to get to know you again. @SeltzerKimberly” quote=”Stop, slow down and focus on you. Don’t get into another band-aid relationship but rather take time to get to know you again. Reconnect with hobbies and activities that make you happy and work on building up a social life separate from your ex. “]
Truly, there is life after divorce. It all boils down on how you choose to handle it. With these expert tips on getting over a divorce, we’re sure you can deal with this tough time and come out a better person. How men deal with divorce is not always the same as women, so keep that in mind. Practicing positive psychology is one way to help build you back up during a difficult time.
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