Whether you were the instigator or on the receiving end, facing a divorce can be incredibly scary.
Your life is about to change in ways you didn’t even think and the person you have known yourself to be is no longer there.
It’s full-on, it’s emotional and it is something that will change the trajectory of your life.
But you can survive your divorce without falling apart.
You can survive your divorce and come out the other end even better than you thought possible.
You can survive your divorce and fall in love with yourself.
You can survive your divorce and be the happiest you’ve ever been in your life.
You can survive your divorce.
The following tips are shared to help you transition from married to divorced while helping you grow your confidence, gain back your independence, and keep yourself together.
1 – Find Your Support System
I always find it intriguing that people are quick to ask for help in celebrating their love when they are getting married but fear asking for help from the same people when they are going through a divorce.
Having people around you who love you and support you unconditionally is essential to surviving divorce.
You might find you have different people who fulfill different roles, such as someone to vent to, someone to give you a pep talk, and someone who is going to talk to you about anything other than divorce.
Surrounding yourself with love and support will help you to remember and rediscover that you are a person separate from your marriage and you will get through this.
These people can be other family members or friends, or if you’re really not comfortable talking about your divorce with people who are close to you, there are several support groups you can join.
Sometimes talking to others who are divorced and who have felt all the feelings, and experienced all the pain could be even more beneficial for you.
2 – Get a Plan.
There’s something about having a plan of action that makes everything seem so much better.
One of the things that make us scared and nervous is the fear of the unknown.
What’s going to happen now? What do I do next? How am I going to manage a mortgage on my own?
Having a plan means you get to take control of your life and eliminate that fear.
- What is the next step forward I need to take (sometimes this is all you can deal with emotionally)
- What is my plan for money/income?
- Who is going to pay the mortgage and the bills? How can we split this in the interim until a final decision is made.
- How will this affect my job? Do I need to get a job? What is my next step?
- How can we split our time with the kids in the interim?
- What is the least disruptive way to do this?
- What practical things do I need to organize? Do I have a car? Do I need to organize a new car?
- What changes do I need to make to bank accounts, bills, and utilities?
- Who can help me do this?
It’s important to be practical in your plan as well, and this can mean engaging the help of professionals who specialize in divorce.
3 – See A Financial Planner / Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
One of the things that causes the most amount of stress when you’re trying to survive a divorce is money and your financial future.
A lot of the time, one spouse is the main breadwinner (often the husband) and one spouse is the main caregiver (though often works as well… we all know how that goes).
This can leave you wondering how you’re going to cope with being financially independent, while also having to care for your family.
Make an appointment to speak with a financial planner or certified divorce financial analyst for specific advice about your financial situation.
Things you might need to consider are:
- what assets you own (individual and joint)
- any property settlement
- any other financial settlement
- any debt you have (individual and joint) and how to split it
- financial responsibility for any children
- who, if anyone, will maintain ownership of your house (if you have one)
A financial planner can also help you with tips for managing your money post-divorce, and budgeting advice.
4 – Speak To A Divorce Lawyer / Attorney
You can speak to a lawyer and ask for advice on what to do, what your next steps are, and how to best manage your separation from a legal standpoint.
This doesn’t mean you have to engage an attorney to act on your behalf, but simply having a talk with a lawyer and discussing the process, can help you to avoid making decisions that could cause problems in the future.
Be sure to see a lawyer who specializes in divorce and family matters. They can often have a wealth of experience and can help you to understand what to expect from a logistical perspective.
5 – See A Therapist / Counselor / Psychologist
Most people have the ability to survive a divorce. Yes, it is an emotional time, and moving on from your marriage isn’t easy, but for the large part, it’s something most people can do.
But, there’s a big difference between simply wanting to survive your divorce, and wanting survive and grow.
One of the best ways to grow through your divorce is to enlist the help of a professional, like a therapist or counselor who specializes in helping divorced women.
I know I couldn’t have gotten through my divorce as well as I did without the help I received from an amazing counselor.
She helped me to really look at my marriage, what I thought marriage meant, what I’d learnt about married couples growing up and what marriage looked like in my family, while also helping me reframe what being divorced meant for me.
While there are likely to be times when it feels like you’re only just surviving, where you feel angry, sad, and even lost, it’s important to not let these emotions consume you forever.
A therapist can help you with this. They can help you to understand your relationship with your spouse and what led to your divorce, they can help you to evaluate your past, manage stress and emotions in the present, and help you to see the positive in your future.
A good therapist will also help you to create a plan moving forward, and help you to consider things like:
- what you need to do for yourself
- how to heal and move on from your past relationship
- developing a new perspective
- figuring out how to create a successful post-divorce life
Sometimes all the self-help books and coffee dates with friends just aren’t enough.
Invest in yourself and get some extra help. It might just be the thing you need to survive your divorce and come through it feeling amazing about yourself again.
6 – Be Open With Your Children
If you have children, you’ve probably gone into full mama bear mode where you do everything to take care of your kids and protect them from the situation.
The problem is, doing this, and not being open and honest with your children about the changes happening that affect their life as well, could lead them to feel scared to share their emotions with you and they may struggle to process how they feel.
Avoiding talking about your ex-husband can also lead them to feel like they have to hide their feelings on your account and not upset you.
Alternatively, explaining to them (in an age-appropriate way) about the separation and that you and their dad are no longer married, and allowing them to express their feelings without telling them how to feel, gives them a safe space to connect with you as a parent.
It also shows them that they matter and that their feelings are valid.
7 – Get Up And Find Something To Be Happy About
I understand all too well how tough it can be to get out of bed and function some days, especially when the emotional pain just washes over you, but this is where sometimes having young kids who rely on you can actually be helpful.
Reminding yourself that you have to be there for them, that you need to put on a brave face, and keep moving forward with your life.
It’s okay to be sad, but even in tough times, there is still so much happiness to be found.
I remember having a friend in high school who would talk about her mom and how she was after her parents divorced.
Some days she would walk to school alone because her mom was still in bed, too sad to get up.
There were even days when she’d come to school with nothing to eat because her mom hadn’t been grocery shopping in forever and there was no food in the house.
This is not surviving.
My friend ended up so angry at her both of her parents because she couldn’t understand why they weren’t together anymore (as most kids feel), but also because neither one of them even spoke with her about the separation.
We were pretty young (I think around 12 at the time), but I still remember feeling so sad for my friend.
She never knew what to expect, she had no idea what was happening, and each day was just full of uncertainty.
Getting up may be the hardest thing you do each day, but to your child, it may also be the most important.
Get up, find something happy in your day, even if it’s just giving your child a hug or hearing them laugh.
8 – Do Something For Yourself Each Day
Following on from that, be sure to take some time to do something positive for yourself each day.
It doesn’t matter if it’s something small like taking a walk, reading a book or watching your favorite movie – just something that brings a little happiness into your life.
If you don’t take care of yourself then you can’t take care of your kids so you absolutely must take care of yourself first.
This is where the real difference comes in between those who survive a divorce and come out better on the other side, and those who get stuck in the divorce vortex and allow their divorce to be the centre of their lives and part of their identity.
Your ability to prioritize yourself, to love yourself during some of the hardest days fo your life, and to know that even if you’re alone, you’ll still be okay because you have you, is such an incredibly powerful thing.
So take the time to show yourself that you matter, take care of your emotional wellbeing, and remember you deserve love too.
9 – Spend Time With Your Children
Your children are trying to survive a divorce too.
They’ve lost their idea of what their family looks like, everything they have known is changing, and this can affect kids in different ways and they need you right now too.
Remind them that even though their parents are no longer married, they are still a family, they are still very much loved, and they have your attention.
If possible, if you have multiple children, it can be a good idea to try and spend one on one time with each child too.
This can help you to get to know them better, to understand how they are feeling, and to be more supportive in helping them through the divorce.
It’s important that your children feel heard and understood, but also remember that talking is not always the answer either.
Sometimes just being there for them, offering a hug or a shoulder to cry on, and letting them know you’re there for them no matter what can make all the difference.
10 – Journal And Reflect
Self reflection is a huge part of self-development, however, during a time of divorce, we tend to be a little biased in our reflective abilities.
If we were the ones to initiate the divorce we tend to focus mainly on our ex’s wrongdoings, and if we were on the receiving end of the divorce we tend to focus on our own wrongdoings (which are often very much exaggerated).
The thing is, no one person and no one event leads to a divorce. There is always a build-up, even if you can’t see it.
Effective reflection is a skill that takes practice and is such an important part of becoming self-aware and the healing process.
This is the perfect time to start reflecting on your life, on your relationships, on who you are and the person you want to be, and asking yourself what you could do to create positive changes in your life.
In the beginning, journaling can be a bit of a challenge, but don’t hold back.
Write whatever is on your mind, it doesn’t have to make sense.
Write about the things you’re angry about, write about your marriage, your spouse, your friends, your family, your children, your health, if you feel lost or if you’re excited for what your future holds (also a valid feeling).
Take whatever is going on in your head and put it on the page.
If you’d prefer, you can use journal prompts to help get started and to give you a specific topic to focus on.
11 – Push Your Own Boundaries
As time goes on, start to try and expand your thoughts around your relationship and your divorce.
Push the boundaries of your thoughts and try to see things from different perspectives.
Look at the positives of your marriage too, because not all relationships are bad, and there would have surely been happy times, and things about your spouse and your marriage that were special to you.
It’s a challenging concept, but also one of significant growth, when you can look back on your marriage and identify the positives and the lessons that have been learnt from it.
It’s important to remember that your divorce is not the only defining moment of your life, but simply a significant milestone in your journey.
Remember too, that what you learn during this difficult time will help shape the person you become in your future relationships and ultimately make you a better partner, parent and human being.
Take some time to also look how you changed and grew throughout your marriage, and now how you’ve changed and grown since your divorce.
Identify the things you now love about yourself, the things your proud of and the goals and dreams you can now achieve.
12 – Practice Forgiveness Towards Your Ex
Forgiveness isn’t going to happen overnight (notice how it’s called ‘practice’), and it’s unlikely to happen without a period of self reflection like we’ve already covere.
It’s a process you need to work through but one that is so essential in moving on and being truly happy.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that anything that led to your divorce or any actions of your spouse are excused or passed over, it simply means you no longer want to carry around the negative energy and heaviness that comes with holding onto your past.
One of my favorite ways to work through forgiveness is to create a little forgiveness mantra, or a forgiveness affirmation of sorts.
An example of a forgiveness mantra might be: ‘even though you are a lying a**ehole, I forgive you”
The best things is that you don’t even have to mean it at first. You might find that by repeating this, it brings up a whole heap of different emotions or memories from your marriage.
Pay attention to any triggers for areas you may need to work on with your therapist.
But even starting like this and saying something this simple, can lead to letting go of negativity.
You’ll find as you repeat the mantra more and more, you’ll find it has a different affect on you.
You might not feel as angry, or hurt, or you might find that thinking about your divorce or your ex spouse doesn’t make you feel quite so emotional anymore.
13 – Practice Forgiveness Towards Yourself
Forgiving your ex is not the only forgiveness task.
You need to forgive yourself too.
Because whether you’re the instigator or the receiver, I guarantee you feel some guilt for what happened in your marriage and for what led to your divorce.
Do the same exercise for yourself. ‘Even though I feel like I failed in my marriage and as a wife, I forgive you’.
Your therapist can work with you on these forgiveness exercises and help you with tips that are appropriate for your specific situation.
14 – Celebrate Your Strengths
Divorce is hard but it’s also an opportunity to look within yourself and find strength you never knew existed.
Take the time you need to grieve after your divorce, feel all the feelings and process them in a healthy way – then use this as a chance for growth.
The stronger and more resilient you become, the better things will be for you post-divorce.
Celebrate your strengths and challenge yourself to discover new ones.
Maybe you’re already a great listener or negotiator – use these skills in other areas of your life now.
Maybe you need to work on communication or learning how to be more assertive – use this as an opportunity to build on these skills.
Take yourself out and celebrate your strengths. Whether it’s a day at the spa, a night out with friends or just some alone time in nature, make sure you’re taking care of yourself and appreciating what you can do.
15 – Be Kind To Yourself
Above all, remember to be kind to yourself. You’ve been through a tough time and you need to give yourself compassion and understanding as you move forward after divorce.
It’s ok to take things one step at a time and make sure that the decisions you make are in your best interest. It’s ok to take your time and not rush into anything.
Divorce is never easy, but you can make it through if you’re kind to yourself and give yourself the time and care you need.
Be gentle with yourself and focus on what will help you heal and grow. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed and remember, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Surviving divorce is hard, no matter how you look at it.
But with the right mindset and a good support system, you can get through this difficult time and come out on the other side feeling better than ever.
Hopefully these tips have given you ideas on how you can get through your divorce and empower you to take control of your life.
Remember that you have the power to make decisions for yourself in order to create a healthier future.
There is hope after divorce, and it’s important to have faith in yourself and know that you will make it through.
Sunday 10th of November 2019
Hi, I am 57 and facing a divorce after 25 years. It’s exhausting and heart breaking and everything breaking..... I was a homemaker. And then I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. My husband was. CPA and Wealth Management advisor and he knows everything about divorce. I just learned this. The everything about divorce part.... He is a whiz kid in that department. He left then tried to have me evicted in 3 days. Didn’t work for him. So I’ve lived here about 18 years. He took care of everything. Not because I wouldn’t, so he could control and you know the type.... Terrified, Yes.....finding work and getting back to me and my interests , making a friend or two? Sounds great. I’m not always this way about it. I cry with no warning and vomit all this on friends, I get it. Anyway I found a great website . It’s called Midlife Divorce and the founder/writers name is Suzy.
Wednesday 3rd of April 2019
You are beautiful. And so incredibly YOUNG. I married at 22 and now I am 57. I never worked. I was the quintessential stay at home mom/homemaker. I am terrified. I know nothing about finances. I was just hired for a SMALL part time job at a place where I have volunteered for three years. My first W-2 since 1984. Anyway, not that your info won't be great but is there anywhere on the net for people like me to find a place to drink lukewarm coffee? I do have a great therapist but it doesn't mean I don't want the equivalent of a "stitch and bitch." Can you help?