Deciding to split up with your partner permanently is a daunting and unfortunate life change. While you may be looking forward to some renewed solitude and peace of mind when the process is over, the road there can be unbelievably stressful. Here are some concrete ways you can focus on yourself and your well-being despite the pain and confusion of divorce.
Seek Professional Support
Going through it alone is hardly necessary. There are many well-trained mental health professionals who can guide you through the emotional rollercoaster of legal separation. Pursuing counseling does not mean you are fragile or vindictive; it is your right to vocalize how you are feeling and what you want to change. You may find that doing so privately with an unbiased third party can be a wonderful antidote. You will have all the space you need to let out your frustrations while receiving sound advice in return.
Professional support is especially relevant to divorce situations with kids involved. It is a huge adjustment for young ones to make, and often they don’t feel comfortable opening up to either parent about their conflicting emotions related to the split. If possible, provide counseling for your children as well, so they can learn to be vulnerable and heal from any pain they may feel from the loss.
Take Time Away from the Household
One of the most effective ways to decompress and gain clarity is by distancing yourself from the tension of the immediate environment. Go for a long walk, spend the night at a friend’s house, or get out of town for the weekend if you can. You might find it easier to allow your emotions to flow when you are away from your family and your partner. Chances are, you are already overwhelmed with household responsibilities, parenting, and legal paperwork. Put yourself and your well-being first so that you can manage what’s on your plate with more ease and grace.
A little bit of physical distance can help you to imagine what your life will be like when everything is finalized. You will no longer have joint finances or shared belongings with your partner, so it’s helpful to think ahead on what you’ll need. Do some research in advance on what it will mean to get a new mortgage, a new bank account, health and life insurance quotes, and retirement savings.
Resist the Urge to Place Blame
Pointing your finger at someone for any outcome, large or small, is a surprisingly effective way to create more hostility in an already uncomfortable situation. You may feel the urge to accuse your partner of being stubborn or divisive. Maybe you immediately get defensive when your partner comes to you with a concern. Both of these are natural tendencies to protecting our egos when experiencing conflict. Do your best to open your mind to compromise, and have some empathy for your partner, who is probably feeling just as much grief and uncertainty as you are.
Remember not to place blame on yourself, either. It is likely that you feel partially responsible for the reality of the unsuccessful marriage. However, all endings are simply new beginnings, and love is a two way street. Although it didn’t work out, it is crucial to remind yourself that it is not your fault. Be kind to yourself so you can extend some of that compassion to those around you.
Ask for What You Want
Speaking up for yourself is one of the most essential practices in any relationship – even one that’s ending. Be honest about your wants and needs. Ask your partner for space to think things over when necessary. Express yourself when you feel misunderstood or ignored. Communication is key.
While we’d all like for divorce to unfold as smoothly as possible, sometimes that just isn’t realistic. Manage your expectations and allow for rough patches to come and go. Most importantly, take care of yourself so that you can be there for others in the long run.