Half of marriages end in divorce, and most relationships do not end in marriage; we Americans stand a good chance of getting our hearts broken. We place a high value on romantic partnership, and we have significant expectations of what that romance is supposed to be. When our relationship falls short, it is easy to feel hopeless, helpless, guilty, and a whole range of big uncomfortable emotions.
And just when we are feeling our worst, we need to have our wits about us as we figure out how to divide the spoils of our life together and ensure that we are making choices that are just and equitable. When kids are involved, the stakes are even higher; we have to be on point. That can be very, extremely, intensely challenging.
Here are seven tips for going through a divorce to help guide you through the process.
1. Be sure that you are sure
If you are the one seeking a divorce, make sure you are sure. Often the “leaning out” partner has made their partner into a “bad guy” and may fail to recognize their own contribution to the problem. Search your heart. See how you may be contributing to the problem. Then choose.
2. Get a therapist
I am a therapist, so this may sound a bit self-serving, but hear me out. Divorce hurts, and you are going to be in pain for a while. Having a therapist gives you a time and place to process all of that emotion. So do it soon. You have a lot of important decisions looming ahead of you, and you need to have your head on as straight as you can as soon as possible in order to do this well. Often people rely on their divorce attorney or family and friends for counseling. This is not a good idea for several reasons:
- Divorce attorneys are not therapists, so going to them for “therapy” is not the best use of your time.
- Your divorce attorney charges many times higher an hourly rate than a therapist; using them for “therapy” is not the best use of your dollar.
- Your family and friends can’t (and won’t) be objective. While they may offer sympathy and even advice, therapy offers something much more helpful.
3. Consider a divorce coach
Consider hiring a divorce coach. Divorce coaches are experts at navigating the morass of divorce. You can think of them as a sort of doula for divorce. In the labor and delivery room, when doulas are present, births go better: fewer forceps and suction cups, less anesthesia. It’s the same with coaches in a divorce: lower legal fees, fewer complications, less medication 🙂 . In the Main Line area, Sheila Brennan is a great choice.
4. Put your kids first
And don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Letting your narcissistic ex, for example, “run over” you for the sake of your kids is not bad or weak; it is probably your best strategy. Your kids can’t be your therapist, and they need to believe in their other parent. In every situation, in choosing every action, think of the path of least pain and greatest harmony for your kids. Let that be your guiding light.
5. Get your finances in order
And talk to a financial advisor right away to start making a plan for yourself. Talk to that person again when the divorce has settled. Women are still in particular danger on the financial front following divorce. Take financial care of yourself now, and you will thank yourself later.
6. Let it go
We all know someone who never got over their divorce. They continue to be angry and bitter for years. This is not a healthy way to show up in your life, and cuts you off from the joy of living. Things happen; we can learn and grow from them, like these people did. This is your chance.
7. Forgive yourself
You are not a failure, and you are lovable. With time and attention, and not being the person in #6, you will heal. I promise you, honestly, you will look back on this time and kinda sorta remember how much it hurt…but it won’t hurt anymore. You won’t even remember 95% of the stuff you are upset about right now. The anger and the pain fade away. It gets better.