Sometimes couples begin therapy hoping to repair a damaged relationship. Other times they are not sure what they want, they just know they’re unhappy and they want it to change. Very often I witness couples heal their pain, make the necessary changes and go on to live together in a mutually satisfying and fulfilling relationship. I feel blessed to have played a role in their process.
There are times though when a couple tries very hard to heal, and make changes, but it just doesn’t happen for them. Divorce is the option they choose. Sometimes we continue to work together to navigate this process. Sometimes the decision is made and the therapeutic relationship ends without a closing session. When this happens I always wish I had been given the opportunity to share them with a few words to help during the times in this process when they feel they are swimming in the middle of the sea without a life preserver. For anyone going through a divorce, especially if you feel like you’re floundering, I hope these words are helpful…
Divorce is never an easy decision or an easy process to go through. If you have made the decision to end your marriage, chances are it took you a long time to get to this place, especially if children are involved. Even when both partners agree to divorce, it is a stressful and emotionally painful process. Regardless of how you feel about your partner at this moment, when you married you did so with a dream for your future. Your dream did not include divorce and it is painful when a dream is not realized. Allow yourself to grieve your loss, and keep in mind that grieving is also a process. To help navigate the feelings and stress during a divorce I have a few tips and suggestions that can help you manage the stress and emotional turmoil commonly felt while going through a divorce.
- Expect and accept that life will be somewhat unstable during this process. It will demand a lot out of you emotionally, and that can weaken your physical stamina. Set up a self care plan that addresses your physical, emotional and spiritual needs and do your best to stick with it. Meditation, working with a therapist, regular exercise, quiet time for reflection and reaching out for spiritual guidance can help you build a routine that brings much needed balance to everyday life.
- Look for and surround yourself with a support system. Friends and family members and support groups you can attend or participate with online can be a great resource. Avoid judgemental people offering unsolicited advice.
- Responsibilities that were once shared may now be something you will have to take on yourself. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the logistical changes of daily life. Prioritize what needs to be done and break tasks down into smaller steps that will be more manageable.
- Feelings of failure and guilt are common. Remember – feelings are not facts! Negative self talk and beating yourself up for mistakes real or imagined hold you back. Move forward by acknowledging where you could have done better and strive to do just that.
- The divorce process will likely present you with frustrating situations. Let go of what you cannot control. It is a waste of your very precious emotional energy.
- You are not obliged to engage with an angry and argumentative spouse. It is perfectly okay to walk away.
- In your eagerness to “just be done with the whole thing”, you may tempted to make quick decisions that aren’t necessarily in your best interest. To the best that you are able, give the time and thought needed to bring the best outcome for your future. If you have legal counsel consult with them to help you make the best decision.
- Start working toward forgiveness (yet another process!). This may not be limited to your spouse. You may need to work on forgiving yourself, or anyone else that may have played a role. It truly is a kindness and gift you give to yourself.
- Remember throughout all of this you are human.You will make mistakes, but you are doing the best you can, which is all you can do. Perfection is extremely overrated.