How to Survive a Divorce
You said, “I do.”
And now, you no longer can.
So what do you do?
The first step to surviving a divorce is deciding that you need one. If you are absolutely, 100% sure that there is no conceivable way to live with your spouse any longer without damaging yourself, and there is absolutely no possibility or desire to work through the things that are destroying your marriage, then you need to get out. Now.
Staying in a bad marriage is harmful to you, harmful to your spouse and harmful to your kids. You may think that you are protecting your kids by staying together, but you are actually doing just the opposite. And if you want to stay because you perceive the idea of divorce as shameful or embarrassing – “What will my parents think?” “What will my friends say?” “How will it look?” – you’re not going to get anywhere. You need to take care of yourself first and foremost.
Okay. So you’ve taken the very first step. Now what should you do next?
Here are the 10 most important things to remember when you are going through a divorce:
1. Pick your battles.
Don’t get dragged into arguments over things that either don’t matter or can easily be replaced. Let your soon-to-be-ex have the nice dishes or the sofa set. You can replace it tomorrow. Ask yourself, “Is it really that important to me?”
2. Make two lists.
List one: What do you need to walk away with? List two: What do you want to walk away with? It could be the house, the car, the crystal bowl that your late grandmother gave you as a wedding gift or suitable visitation arrangements with the kids. Decide what to put in each list; decide what is truly important to you.
3.Don’t get vindictive.
Bad-mouthing your ex in front of others will damage your own credibility and standing. In the end, what will you really gain by being a jerk? Take the high road, no matter how badly you think you were wronged. In the end, you’ll be the winner.
4. Don’t get angry.
The moment you lose your temper, you’ve lost the battle. Be calm, cool and collected during the split. Go to the gym and beat the hell out of the punching bag; hang a picture of your soon-to-be-ex on the target at the shooting range or archery field and take out your frustrations that way. But don’t lose your cool around your ex or your kids – it will come back to bite you.
5. Don’t fight in front of the kids.
Your fighting has a profound and long-term impact on their well-being. They hear, see and remember everything. When you have the urge to spew, find another adult who is willing to listen.
6. Be fair when possible.
Always walk away feeling good about your actions. You may not be able to wait until this person is no longer in your life, but don’t forget – you married them for a reason. Don’t forget that at one point, you did care.
7. Think long-term.
You don’t like the visitation arrangements with the kids? Remember that as they grow older, they get to make their own decisions about where they want to be and who they want to spend time with. Make your home welcoming and warm for them no matter how often or seldom you see them. Maximize the time you do have with them, even if you consider it to be short. It will get paid back in spades.
8. You are not alone.
No matter what the situation was that led to your divorce, there are many others like you who have gone through this.
9. Move on.
This chapter is over. Don’t dwell on all that went wrong. Focus on what went right, and use that insight to build a new and/or better life for yourself. Spend your energy creating the life that you want for yourself.
Journaling will help to keep you focused. It’s a place to deposit your bitterness, your angst, your tears and your frustrations. Journal about everything that you’re feeling and going through each and every day as you go through the divorce process. Dump it out and then move forward.
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