Having been through a divorce myself, I know better than to try to convince anyone that divorce is easy. It isn’t. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve endured in my forty-two years. It causes stress for the whole family, obviously for both parents and children, but also potentially for relationships that were forged with in-laws and friends. But I also have a positive message: I survived it, and so can you.
Here are some things I learned along the journey that can make your divorce as bearable as possible and make sure that you come out on the other end–eventually–with your sanity intact and a readiness to move on with a sense of optimism about the future. (I said eventually not immediately!)
Leave Bitterness Behind
The single most important factor in managing a sane divorce is to make a joint decision to keep emotions at bay during the transition from spouses to singletons. Maintaining bitterness about the past makes it impossible to let go of the toxic part of your relationship. While it may feel good in the short term to blame your ex and treat him like a piñata, it is only going to drag out the pain that both of you have decided to leave behind. Remember that you made this joint decision for many good, concrete, practical reasons, and however difficult it is now, you will find better days in the future. You, your ex, and your kids deserve a dignified and respectful separation.
Treat it Like a Business
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, if you think of your divorce as a business transaction, it may help you to see it from a different perspective. Divorce is unquestionably more than that, but try to remember that, like partners in a business, both of you deserve your fair share of the assets. If you look at it this way, dividing possessions become less emotional and more of a necessity between two people who have decided to go their separate ways.
Learn to Talk to Yourself
Talking to yourself is a skill that can get you through the most difficult times in your life. Start by acknowledging your emotions and telling yourself that while they are not “wrong,” they are not the whole picture. There is also a rational side to your decision to divorce. What that means is that when the ink is dry on the papers, you will start the process of becoming free from all of the things that made the relationship intolerable. Allow yourself to go through the emotions that come up, but after the tears, remind yourself that this is for the best.
Talking to a neutral party is a common way for both men and women to get perspective and to come to grips with the changes that are underway. If you are inclined to see a therapist, don’t hesitate; he or she will have heard what you have to say, as bad as you might think it is, and worse a thousand times before.
The cure for every problem!
If you and your ex are mature enough to celebrate your split together, you have reached the nirvana of amicable divorce. A divorce party allows you to respect your time as a couple while affirming your intention to go your separate ways. While this may be a somber occasion, introducing some humor into the gathering by way of a divorce cake or party favors can lighten things considerably. A party can bring together friends and family members who may have been unfortunately caught in the middle and reassure them that they are wanted in both of your lives going forward and that they are not expected to take sides. This public show of civility to your friends and family will hold both of you accountable. Respect each other, even if you don’t always agree.
Have you been through a divorce? Who or what was the greatest source of support for getting you through the rough patches? How long did it take until you were ready to move on?