Coping with divorce is a far from easy task and often you can struggle to know which way is up following a separation. Depression after divorce is common and separation can often throw up other issues such as anxiety, low self-esteem, sleeping problems and all manner of other issues. The divorce recovery can take some time and it can certainly be a long time before you feel there is life after divorce. Living alone after divorce can also give rise to a big fear as you wonder how you will cope being alone after always having a companion for a long period of time. If your children have recently moved out or gone to university this can exacerbate these feelings.
This blog is not designed to be a how to deal with divorce guide or how to cope with divorce step by step. The purpose is to flag some things to think about in the short term and long term to help you find your way forward. If you haven’t had a look at our Facebook live that builds on the blog then please check out our Facebook page.
What might you need to think about in the short term? When we talk about the short term we mean the weeks and months either after the separation has taken place, or after the decision to separate has taken place. If you are the person that has made that decision then there can be a relief that you are finally moving forward with the rest of your life. There can also be feelings of fear and guilt. If the decision is not a mutual one then you can feel absolutely floored by your partner or spouse’s desire to separate. Here are our top three things to concentrate on in the immediate aftermath of a separation:
1. What do you need to keep your head above water? Not to swim to the side or get anywhere. What do you need to just enable you to tread water? Is that practical help? Is it emotional help? Is it space to just grieve? Identify what it is that would help you get through the coming weeks or next few months so you can just keep going. If that is help from your GP and medication then accept the fact that that is where you right now. It doesn’t mean you’ll be there forever (even if it feels like it).
2. Ask for help. You don’t have to accept it if you don’t feel you need it. But ask trusted people for help and, where necessary, recommendations of help. Give yourself the best tool box possible to help you. A google search can throw up all many of terms like do it yourself divorce and family law mediation and divorce arbitration but how do you know what the reality is. The best thing is to find some help that you can trust so that you can understand your decision and know where to go for further help once you are able to make decisions.
3. Evaluate when you feel ready to move to long term planning. It may take a while and that is OK. It’s really important that you don’t start making decisions too soon. It takes time and patience (for both people) to do the rebuilding after divorce or separation and in our experience trying to do too much too soon can make it much more difficult and painful. Often couples resolve things much more quickly when they are both in the right place to do so.
Long term planning
1. Visualise your new life – what will your new life look like? What is important to you and what actually isn’t that important to you (you may surprise yourself). If you’re thinking about a future when your children might be with the other parent what are you going to do then? Is there anything you have always wanted to have time to do? Is there something you always shelved because of the other person – what is that? Can you do it now? Can you plan to do it in the future? By starting to imagine your new life and what it might look like you are sewing seeds in your mind that there could be good parts of it and you are also starting to take ownership of it which is an important part of the process.
2. What more longer term help could you benefit from? This might be childcare if you are going to be working more hours or won’t have the other parent available at certain times any more. Remember childcare doesn’t have to mean expense as there may be family members or friends willing to help you in return for help you can offer them. You may find financial planning useful to try to ensure that you are arranging what money you have in the way that gets the best from it. Would you benefit from emotional support? This can include counselling but could equally come from a support group or making time to have a cuppa or a drink with a good friend regularly.
3. Remember to move at your own pace. There is no set time scale only YOUR time scale. There is absolutely no rule that says you need 10 weeks, 6 months or 2 years to get on with your life after a divorce. There is only what feels right for you.
If you feel that family mediation would help you, or you feel you need access to support but you don’t know where to find it then please get in touch with us so that we can help point you in the right direction.