It’s safe to say that most people don’t look forward to divorce. It’s never an ideal situation, especially when kids are involved, but it happens nonetheless. As difficult as the process is, there are proven strategies for making it through with minimal anxiety and stress.
The following tips will help you healthily move through a divorce:
Make an appointment with a therapist to discuss your current mental and emotional state. You may find that you’re operating under unspoken beliefs or feelings that could impede the process if left unexplored.
When it comes to child custody, see things from your children’s perspective as much as possible by asking them lots of questions about their lives and their thoughts and feelings about the divorce. As you go through the process with your child custody attorney, keep in mind that children look to their parents for guidance and examples of what a healthy relationship looks like. Never underestimate how much your kids are watching you and taking cues from you.
If possible, avoid seeing your ex as an adversary, the more you do — the more likely you will feel that the battle lines have been drawn. Try seeing your lawyer on a limited basis and handling what needs to be handled and allow space with some time between visits for processing and grieving, if necessary. To stay out of court, some people make concessions that they might not have made otherwise.
In the same vein, don’t attempt to negotiate custody or other things with your ex unless necessary. As they grow older, your children will be grateful for this and begin to put the pieces together on how you handled your divorce.
Grow and Learn
Recognize that even though this is a terrible situation, it’s also an excellent opportunity for you and your children to grow and learn. Divorce is a complex and painful process; no one comes out of it without bruises or scars. Be gentle with yourselves and each other as you go through the transition.
While you’re working with your lawyer, look for ways to create boundaries between different areas of life such as work/home, old and new partners, etc. Setting healthy boundaries will help you manage your stress and minimize the risk of exposure to conflict that could bring about anxiety or insecurity.
If you’re a stepparent, you may find yourself having to take on a different role in life after divorce, one which involves fewer responsibilities for caregiving. Recognize that this situation is temporary and that your children will eventually experience a reunion in their lives when they learn to love you as a valued parent, not just an important person in their lives.
Remember what’s important
The details surrounding the divorce process can be very distracting from the big picture, which includes forgiving yourself and one another for any wrongs, mending the emotional and physical damage we’ve done to each other, and building a new life after divorce that’s full of love.
Take care of your health
This is one of the most important things you can do for yourself during this process. Your body will take on more stress than usual and may require extra protection as a result. Don’t neglect your immune system by getting enough sleep, eating well, and staying hydrated.
Recognize that even though divorce is difficult to experience, the situation may be an opportunity for you to learn about yourself. The more time you spend understanding who you are as a person apart from another person (your ex), the more apparent it will be what you want and deserve in a relationship.