Even if you think you’re familiar with divorce, this tumultuous time in your life can be very challenging. Several experienced divorcees share what they wish they had known prior to getting divorced.
Expect your life to change. Those first few months are very difficult with everything swirling around you. You tell yourself that things won’t be different. You promise the kids that nothing in their lives will change. Except that everything changes. Everyone in the house is in flux and working to figure out what it all means.
Relationships will shift. You’ve nurtured relationships with friends and your spouse’s family for years. When divorce happens, you’ll discover whether blood is thicker than water. The relationships may not be forever changed, but they’ll almost never be the same if you rekindle the relationship/friendship. Remember that you’ll form new bonds that will be supportive, joyful and fun.
Some of your “friends” will no longer be comfortable hanging out with you because they are sure divorce is contagious. People are leery of being the next one to catch it. Your friends will retreat cautiously as to not hurt your feelings. Most of your friends will eventually forget to invite you to “couples” parties. They think you met someone or that you’re having so much fun dating. There will most likely be a core group of friends who will support you. Lean on them. Beware of gossips too.
There are good days and bad days. There might be 2, 14, 28, 60 bad days in a row. When you’ve lived through the bad days, you gain a special appreciation for the good days, or even the “not so bad days.” Even if you’re the one who initiated it, there may be a time when you have to remind yourself why you did it. Life is about good times and bad. Divorce is no different.
It’s important to be assertive, to know what you want, and to clearly communicate that with everyone. Passivity is not a trait to embrace during this transition. Unlike marriage, there is one chance to get this right. One goal should be to resist using the services of your attorney or the courts to resolve minor issues.
It’s an emotional time. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to be emotional AND logical at the same time. And during divorce proceedings, you’ll be expected to make logical decisions. Know that it’s challenging. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right the first time. Give yourself time to think over decisions so you know you’re making good ones.
You are now solely responsible for the finances. If finances and handling money is not one of your strengths, seek out a financial advisor or a financial planner or a good CPA. You need a trustworthy source in your corner that you trust to provide guidance around future decisions.
Holidays will be difficult. You’ll negotiate the holidays and birthdays with your spouse and agree that you have the best plan given the situation. It seems like the perfect plan for everyone involved. That is until the kids leave for their dad’s on Christmas morning. Or that you have to wait to celebrate your son’s birthday because it doesn’t land on your custodial day. It’s your new life. It’s divorce.
Make an effort to get everyone into therapy – adults and kids. This is a challenging time for your family. If possible, do your best to encourage therapy for your kids, even if you think they are doing well. It will be easier in later years if the kids have experienced counseling with a therapist they know, like and trust. Teenage years are full of challenges and often blame. Use the resources available to you.
Your family becomes a “case” in the court system. If possible, try to avoid a face to face meeting with a judge. Do your best to reach a decision with your spouse. Regardless of the facts behind your situation, your outcome may be affected by an earlier decision or yesterday’s case. The court system is backlogged and each family isn’t always able to get the attention they deserve. Court is not the venue to right the wrongs of your marriage. It’s a place where people who can’t reach an agreement themselves go to have a stranger make decisions regarding their lives and those of their children.
There are many more. For every divorce, there is a unique lesson learned. What was your lesson? Come over to our Forum and share!