You´re getting divorced- suddenly you are hit with the full implications of that statement; every day is characterized by pain.
It looks like the end is nowhere near. As bad as it was being married, you are now carrying even more responsibility. You are having trouble caring for yourself and keeping all the balls in the air.
Take a deep breath, keep the faith, it’s going to be OK!
Here is what more experienced divorced moms want you to know.
1- Eyes On The Prize
During the divorce process, it’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed, even “freaked out” at times.
Don’t allow those feelings to dominate you. Keep your eyes on the prize. The prize is your life with your children post-divorce. A life in which all the stressors of your marriage are no longer under your roof. Set goals.
Visualize it now so you remain motivated.
Listen to former client Lisa:
“My coach suggested I learn everything I can about the divorce process short of getting a law degree. They pointed out that while I can’t control the process, the better I understand it, the better I can manage my own expectations. And, it worked. Once I got that this is a negotiation I stooped freaking out when his lawyer would make what appeared to be an unreasonable demand. It wasn’t a demand, it was a negotiating stance!”
Learn as much as you can about the process. If you are in the early stages, learn about the ways people get divorced (Collaborative, Mediation, & Litigation).
Once you´re in the process, learn as much as you can about his attorney and the players in the divorce so that you understand where they are coming from and what to expect.
3- You´re Not Alone
It is normal and natural to want to isolate a little. Divorce is often filled with feelings of failure, guilt, and even shame.
“I felt like I had failed; failed my kids, failed myself. I was never going to get divorced. I was never going to do that to my kids. The guilt feels so overwhelming! I just could not believe that we were here. I reached out to my friends. Breaking the isolation really helped me get going again. Once I hired an attorney, they introduced me to other divorce professionals to help me with the emotional side of the divorce, and that made a HUGE difference!”
Reach out to your network of support.
Your friends, spiritual advisor. Seek professional support (not just your lawyer). Attorneys specialize in the law. They are not trained to be emotional counselors.
An experienced divorce coach is worth their weight in gold- literally.
They will support you in moving through the emotional side of the process quickly and in a way that will take months off of the divorce process (and save you a small fortune in legal fees).
4- Set Boundaries
Your ex is going to treat you the same old way. Don’t let him.
Take a look at the relationship you have through the lens of the plan for you and your children’s future. Where in your marriage did you feel abused? Bullied? Even Gaslighted? Using your future vision, where will you put an end to that, and how?
Here is what our client Maria has to say about this:
“My ex is a total narcissist! Every conversation, he would take what I would say and turn it upside down so that I looked wrong and he looked right. Every time! I realized I can’t change him. He is who he is. I needed to change what I was going to allow him to say and do when we talked about the kids. I set some boundaries so that there was no opportunity for me to become a victim again with him. We only talk about what is relevant to the kids. The second he tries to make me wrong, All I say is “this is not about blame, it’s about what’s best for the kids”. If he can’t get off it, I table the conversation for 24 hours.”
Maria’s strategy worked like a dream.
No, her ex did not always “get off it” right away, but eventually, he would stop.
More important, Maria did not hang out for gaslighting. She had decided she was not going to let him do that in her space.
Maria set a boundary for herself. She did not try to control him or change him. She simply did not allow him to act out his destructive pattern with her. You can do this too!
5- Let Them Go
Letting go is simple but not always easy.
It is not unusual to be attached to what was good, or even resentful about what was bad.
Obsessing about him, what he did, or didn’t do is simply a waste of time. Living in the world of “if only”, is a losing prospect. “If only I had paid closer attention”, “if only I had listened”, “if only he had cared”.
These are normal feelings and at the same time not worth dwelling on. Have the sadness and let him go. Release the blame and anger, it’s only hurting you and perhaps even your children.
6- Focus On You
Invest time and money into your own self-care.
Chances are your battery is a little run down. Divorced moms say you should think about it this way: the more charged you’re emotional, physical, and spiritual battery, the more of you that is available for your kids.
“I felt like I never had any time. The kids need me, the house needs me, the dogs. How can I take care of myself when I have all these responsibilities? I started out small, taking 15 minutes in the morning before the kids were up to pray and meditate. There was an immediate difference! I re-invested that energy into walking more with the kids instead of driving and I got exercise, they got tired and went to bed earlier! I noticed a real return on my investment and doubled down. Now, a day rarely goes by where I don’t care for my own needs first and we are all happier for it” -Claire, NY NY
What Claire discovered is that she was not really being selfish by being selfish.
By being strategic about her time, she was able to care for herself so that there was more Claire there for her kids! Start out small the way she did.
It takes 30 days to lay the groundwork for a new habit. Build slowly and watch your energy grow incrementally with the time you invest in yourself.
7- Just Do It
Often when we are reading an article like this, it’s easy to feel inspired and at the same time call out why these things might not work for you.
Let’s face it, when we are in a less than positive space, it is easy to let negative thinking drag us down.
Shut off those old negative tapes and just do it! Make a list of the next steps as you read through this.
Prioritize them. Choose one to start on this week. Next week choose another. Jude has a technique for this:
“When that negative track starts to play II treat it like a voice in my head that is not me. I tell it “I know you think you are helping, but it’s time to try something new, so chill out” and then I start the new project, habit, practice, whatever”.
8- Your Kids As A Springboard
It is not unusual to hang out in a destructive marriage for the sake of the kids only to find out that the kids are suffering right along with you.
This is a classic upside-down principle. Here is what Maude, a divorced mom, had to say about this:
“ I stayed in a bad marriage for years, I thought he was cheating, he was. “It will change”is what I told myself it would change, that I needed to hang in there for the kids. It didn’t. Then one morning I woke up and I realized that if I was really going to “do it for the kids” I needed to consider what was really best for them. I talked it out and made a decision that from now on I was going to do what was REALLY best for the kids. I was going to teach them what a good relationship is based on. Now I’m showing them how to live a happy life and overcome adversity.”
9- Embrace Finance
In a typical American family, one person handles the household budget and the other handles the long-term budget.
In some families, one person handles both.
Make sure you get all aspects of managing money. Understand not only how to stay in a budget, but how to set one, measure your current assets and liabilities, and how these pieces fit in with your vision for the future.
Jen had a deep background in managing household expenses but was less grounded in long term planning:
“During the divorce process, I realized I had never really considered the later stages of my life. I left him to set aside money for retirement. When my lawyer explained to me that Dan had not set aside enough for himself much less both of us living separately I had a real wake up call”
Jen dove into understanding how retirement funds worked. She learned about the differences between stocks and bonds, and how her retirement money was being invested. She learned all the ins and outs of long-term planning so that she could make educated decisions based on the advice of her financial professionals.
The End IS NEARER Than You Think
Divorce feels like it goes on forever.
In many ways, it can feel like an endurance test. Follow the tips above however and you will be enduring less and directing yourself towards your chosen future more.
By keeping your eyes on the prize, researching, expanding your network, setting boundaries, letting go, focusing on you, doing it, using your kids as a springboard, and getting grounded in financials, you will better manage your own expectations and even appreciate each step along the way.