Life After Divorce | LegalAdmin

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Coping with Life after Divorce

  • Divorce is a crisis – a devastating personal experience. It is a lengthy process that began when you realized that your marriage was unsatisfactory and that your spouse was no longer the number one person in your life. The legal part of the divorce is only one stage in the entire process, so you may be surprised that you are not feeling better now you are single.
  • After divorce there are two major tasks that we must work on. The first is to rebuild our lives as adults to make effective use of the second chance that your divorce has provided. The second is to parent your children, protecting them from the crossfire between you and your ex-spouse and nurture them as they grow up into adults. Before we can rebuild our lives, we must mourn the death of our marriage.
  • If you have experienced the death of someone close to you, you will recall how you grieved and mourned for their presence, felt angry and resentful at the injustice of it all, life seemed empty and different. To cry, to feel angry and resentful, to feel shaken, hopeless and helpless, are normal healthy ways of reacting to loss. Unpleasant feelings, but an essential part of your recovery. Fighting these feelings by pretending everything is fine, denying that they exist or trying to hurry the process up, will only intensify the gloom in your life.
  • Give yourself permission to feel, you are not going crazy, you will come through that dark tunnel in time. How long this process takes, depends on you as an individual. It could take two years before you feel a sense of yourself as a separate person and that there is a future for you.
  • The loss of your marriage is intensified by the everyday losses you are experiencing. You may be experiencing economic loss, loss of your house and furniture, of familiar and precious things. You may have to deal with the loss of friends – very often friends seem to take sides, single people are thought to be odd and a threat to couples – you feel alone and lonely.
  • You may be dealing with the loss of daily contact with your children, the loss of your in-law family or your own if they don’t approve of your divorce. Other losses you may be mourning are the loss of a career, of physical security, of a sexual partner and maybe of your value system and the belief that your marriage was forever. How can you combat the pain of these losses? First you will have to choose whether you want to be a victim of these losses or whether you want to learn to be single.
  • Often our depressed feelings force us to withdraw from the world; reach out to those around you who can help, pick up with old friends, try to make new ones, pursue new and different interests even though you feel shy, uncomfortable or that it’s too much trouble, use all the opportunities that come your way.
  • Try to let go of your guilt, anger and hurt. Acknowledge what you have achieved since you’ve been alone, encourage and praise yourself, take small steps and live each day as it comes. Work on believing that you can and will come through this experience, work on believing that as a single parent and a single person you have as much value as a person with a spouse.
  • Dating, after a divorce, can also be a problem. Because we need to rebuild ourselves, we often go out with anyone and everyone. Relationships don’t seem to last and instead of helping us to feel better, we are left feeling let down and disillusioned. Dating again also makes us feel we are back in our adolescence – uncomfortable and unsure of ourselves. If dating is helping you to regain your self-esteem, and then enjoy it, but if it is adding to your negative feelings about yourself, it may be better to stop.
  • Being a parent currently is often very difficult. Your energy is taken up with coping with your own feelings of grief, anger and fear. Because you are on your own, it may feel that you are responsible for everything; everyone is making demands on you and you must make all the decisions. You may feel you have little left to give to your children.

Here are some guidelines that will benefit you and your children and help you all to adapt to the new situation.

  • Tell your children that the changed family situation is not a disaster but a difficulty that can be overcome if you work as a team.
  • Recognize that you do not have to be a super mom/dad – use your support systems and allow their other parent to participate – you do not have to do everything.
  • Remove your fears that your children will not turn out well because their father or mother is not in the house daily.
  • Do not use your children as an emotional crutch; they cannot solve your emotional problems.
  • Do not use your children in the battle you may still be waging with your ex-spouse.
  • Make sure your new dating relationships do not generate sexual fears or conflicts in your children. Re-assure them that no one can take the place of their mom or dad.
  • Do not exclude the children’s relatives on your ex-spouse’s side. Grandparents are important for the children and enrich their lives.
  • Encourage your ex-spouse to keep close contact with the children, by telephone or by allowing them to visit, encourage the children to share their experiences with him. This will allow you some time on your own and to relate to other adults.
  • Deal with money or maintenance issues through your lawyer, the maintenance court, or through a professional mediator. Trying to work it out with your ex-spouse may increase the hostility between you.
  • Life after divorce is not easy but you can make it work for you. If at any time it feels too difficult or overwhelming, do not hesitate to contact a divorce counsellor for assistance.
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