Divorce is one of those experiences that can test the very mettle of an individual. By its very nature, to divorce is an exercise in the limits and expansiveness of individual power and control. While marriage is based upon mutual agreement, divorce only requires one person wanting out. Whether you are the initiator, the responder or perhaps an agreeable participant, the process can take on a life of its own. The goal is to harness your personal power to maintain equilibrium and fashion a fair and equitable separation while providing a safe, nurturing, chaos-free environment for your children. Here are 5 do’s and dont’s to stay focused on what’s important while going through a divorce.
#1) Do take care of yourself.
Really. This means eating well, getting good sleep and finding outlets for the myriad feelings you are going through. Watch what you eat and what you drink. Get some exercise. If you have good friends who will lend an ear and a shoulder, spend time with them. If you don’t, get a therapist. This is the time to talk to the spiritual leader of your faith group if you have one. If not, make sure you give yourself time to be alone, to meditate or engage in whatever calming activity makes you feel centered. Ending a relationship is a seminal event and making sure you are caring for yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually is paramount for you to get through this and to be there for your kids.
#2) Do seek out the appropriate professionals.
If you haven’t been paying the bills and don’t know about the family investments, get an appointment with a certified financial planner who specializes in divorce. Even if you decide to file on your own, consider seeking legal counsel to get a handle on the process and the legalities involved. This is especially true if you’ve been a stay at home mom or dad and haven’t worked for awhile or if the relationship has been emotionally, verbally or physically abusive. If you or one of your children are struggling to maintain normal everyday functioning, make an appointment with a therapist who deals with divorce. You won’t be able to control the process but you can help to guide it by involving the professionals you need to make good choices along the way.
#3) Don’t play the blame game.
We like to find a bad guy in divorce. It makes it easier to understand, explain and even move through the process of separating. A relationship is the result of what both people bring to it. If you have been hurt by your partner, consider working with a therapist to start looking at the role you played in the relationship. Pointing fingers may make you feel better momentarily but it ignores the only power you have in the situation: changing yourself.
#4) Don’t disparage your partner in front of the kids.
Ever. As in never. Remember this as motivation: your kids are half your divorcing spouse. Whenever you say something derogatory about him or her, you are saying it about your child. Bite your tongue and find other outlets but don’t burden your kids.
#5) Do ask yourself this question daily, “what do I need?”
No matter what has happened that has led you down the path of divorce, you have likely lost touch with yourself along the way. It’s easy to do. Between jobs, kids and now this new stressor, life can feel simultaneously robotic and repetitive and wildly out of control. We wield our personal power most effectively by understanding what we need and then giving it to ourselves as best we can.