• Emily Pringle

Tips on emotionally dealing with divorce or separation

The hardest part about coming to terms with divorce is managing the painful roller-coaster of emotions that is typically experienced. It can be so overwhelming, even when it is not a surprise, that a person may lose track of what’s important.

Clarity on 4 key areas will help you to get through the days and weeks.

1. Financials: Plan for the future - Most people see their financial situation change when they separate or divorce. The quicker you look into the facts of your situation, the sooner you can begin working on your new reality. And, whatever your situation is, once you face into it you can start to make the necessary adjustments needed to make it work for you. Accepting the fact that changes will need to be made is half the battle, and will mean you are not continually living in an angry and hurt state of mind. The faster you can accept your new reality, chances are the faster you will recover. It’s your new life, and you can make opportunities. Keep your finances organised and be aware of the details so that you can spend more time focusing on building your new life.

2. Parenting: Tune In (Not Out) - Perhaps the most agonising aspect of divorce for parents is the gut wrenching fear of emotionally scaring your children. This particular fear, more than any other, keeps many stuck in unhappy marriages as they believe that it’s the right thing to do for their children. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. If a relationship is consistently unhappy, filled with anger, arguments, tension/or anxiety, kids are often better off when divorce can provide greater stability. As parents emotionally adjust to their divorce or separation, they typically beat themselves up for not being more perfect for their kids. As you come to terms with all that is changing in your life, you need to accept that it’s impossible to be a perfect parent. The single best thing you can do is to emotionally tune in and be empathetic to your children. Make room for their feelings about their parents being separated. Ask them directly how they are feeling, and offer empathy for their concerns. Acknowledge that you understand what they are experiencing and that they are not alone. Try hard to avoid talking critically about your ex, this can lead to a child feeling guilt for loving both parents and can be permanently damaging to them.

3. Emotions: Allow yourself to grieve – Healthy grieving doesn’t mean you have to sit around and cry all of the time in a dark room. But it does mean that you accept that with divorce comes a healing process. Divorce is likened to the bereavement of a loved one, and the stages you go through are the same.

These stages include:

Denial - “This can’t be happening.” Anger - “I don’t deserve this” Bargaining - “Maybe if I change something about myself I can get my ex back.” Depression - “what’s the point of life anymore.” And, eventually, Acceptance - “I can still be happy despite this loss.”

People go in and out of these stages, and there is no set order. Once you’ve passed through a stage, you may return there at a later date, more than once. Developing an awareness for where you are at any given moment, and being able to acknowledge it will make your journey easier as you will have an understanding of why you feel like you do.

4. Socialising: Seek Support - It can be tempting, particularly during the early stages of a divorce or separation, to shut yourself away. At the end of the day you are likely drained by attending to your children’s emotional health, your own emotional health, and your legal situation. After all of this, you may have few resources left and be tempted to isolate yourself for hours or days at a time. A little of this from time to time is appropriate and healthy. But more than this is not good for you, and you need to ensure that you force yourself to regularly socialise with others. Ask others for help. Talk to them about what you are going through. Talking with friends will help you to feel less alone and open up your perspective—reminding you that there is a better future out there and you are getting closer and closer to it each day.