Getting Back to YOU After a Divorce
By: Karyn Damschen
Divorce is a major life transition and whether you are just beginning the process, in the thick of it or emerging on the other side, you are likely experiencing a wave of emotions that may vary from elation to despair. The bottom line is, no matter who has made the choice to end the marriage it is not a walk in the park and, in most cases, it takes a whole lot longer to get divorced than it does to get married.
Through your divorce proceedings, you must manage the practical aspects of finances such as your home, your belongings, children, and pets. You also have to manage the psychological and emotional toll it can take on you. Given the emotional and financial stress that divorce creates, it comes as no surprise that many women don’t allow enough time to explore who they want to be and what they need and want post-divorce.[i]
While the following suggestions are not a long-term life planning strategy, we wanted to share some wisdom about how to prepare yourself, both emotionally and financially for life after a divorce.
Discover Opportunities for growth
More often than not, marital partners can tend to lose themselves throughout the course of their marriage. Married partners may stop growing individually and merge into one another’s lives so much so that it can be hard to see where one person begins and the other ends. While this may be beautiful and indicative of the strength of the bonds that marriage can bring, it can be difficult to find YOU again in the event of divorce. Discovering new opportunities for growth in all areas of your life can boost your self-esteem, empower you to begin reinvesting in your own self-worth and give you the strength to handle the emotional challenges that come with all phases of divorce.
Build a Historical Spending Plan and create a new Lifestyle Protection Plan
Keeping a record of income and expenses during a divorce is extremely important because it is what provides a proof of the standard of living that was maintained during the course of your marriage. This documentation will also be the foundation to help you realistically build a new spending plan ensuring you live within your means post-divorce. “Preparing a Lifestyle Protection Plan for historical, temporary support and post-divorce life for both spouses doesn’t guarantee the acceptance of change, but it removes some of the most significant barriers to that process. It can really help level the playing field and gives both parties a realistic view of the present as well as the future so they can make informed, rational decisions.”[ii]
Remember What YOU Like
Sometimes we spend so much time thinking about what our spouse or our family likes, we forget to put our likes first, second or even third. Something as small as not cooking with olives because your spouse did not like them, even though you love them may add a bit of zest to your day. Make a puttanesca the next time you cook dinner. Sensory memories and taste buds have a great deal to do with our moods and emotions, so making those new changes can help a lot with transition and reinventing ourselves as individuals.
Making a list of the things you like and do not like can help you gain perspective on how you might like to spend your time in your life after marriage. If you have children still living in the home you can ask them to help you too. Family time may feel different for them for a while since it will mostly be spent with either one of their parents, but not all together anymore. Making a list and then planning activities around what you like to do can be an uplifting exercise for all of you.
“Neuroscience has proven that how you use your mind can change your brain for better or worse. If, in the midst of divorce, your mind keeps focusing on the loss you feel, or anger or sadness or pain, your neural networks that help you feel loss are being strengthened and feeling those particular emotions can become habitual.”[iii]
Practicing mindfulness or meditation can be extremely helpful in helping people in transition to maintain a positive outlook, stabilize their moods and improve their willpower (see our article on willpower and mindfulness).
It is never easy to make your way through a major life transition. We hope some of the thoughts we shared above will get you thinking about some positive changes that you can look forward to even in this very difficult time. Relying on the support of friends, loved ones and those you trust can make all the difference. At RESolutions, we value the relationships that we have with our clients and we strive to help people in transition make long-term decisions that allow them to live their life the way they choose.