Let’s not mince words: divorce is challenging. It is challenging for you, who must reacquaint yourself with being single during a highly emotional time. It is challenging for children, who cycle through a long list of precocious emotions to process the experience. And it is hard on your spouse, who must go through a separate but related journey of self-discovery and self-questioning.
Finally, there’s the legal stuff. Divorce has the potential to be protracted, piled with paperwork and exhausting. Although it doesn’t have to be, the legal process of a divorce can be a battleground of emotions.
It is challenging. But with some dialogue, outside support, a compassionate lawyer and an optimistic outlook, you can at least make the process manageable. Here are four tips for surviving the painful process.
Allow Space for Complex Emotions
You will feel a lot of emotions, often contradictory ones. That’s perfectly okay. It is fine to feel sad about what you’re losing, even as you look forward to the prospect of separating. It is normal to be happy about your choice, even as you feel intense regret for what your child must be going through.
Allow space for these emotions without suppressing or bottling them. It may take some time for the hard edges of each emotion to soften, but it’s better to greet them head-on. If it helps (and it almost always does), witness your feelings in the presence of a trained professional, like a therapist or counsellor.
With Kids: Consider Counselling and PAS Courses
If you have children with your spouse, consider attending family counselling, where you can work toward resolving issues. (Please note that this can only work in amicable divorce cases, and may be counterproductive otherwise).
In any case, consider attending PAS courses (Parenting After Separation), and encourage your spouse to do the same. It may also be beneficial for your child to see a counsellor alone, as they may have feelings to work through that they aren’t able to share in your presence.
Discuss an Uncontested Divorce
The help of a professional, compassionate lawyer is essential in the divorce process. Having that impartial third party makes the experience far more manageable.
To avoid long, painful hours in court, discuss the option of an “uncontested divorce” with your spouse. Essentially, an uncontested divorce is a no-fault option that allows you to close a marital relationship in just four to six months. There are some conditions for uncontested divorces – get access to online legal services to learn more about the option.
It’s important to stay optimistic. Even as you fight your way through the toughest days of the separation, focus on bright spots:
- Exploring your interests: Are there interests you put on hold during your relationship that you want to revisit? Use this time to rediscover some of life’s joys.
- Taking some time for yourself: it’s okay to centre yourself sometimes. Take a break from work if you need to, and treat yourself to some much-needed R&R.
- Surround yourself with loved ones, friends and like-minded individuals. Talk to your friends. Chat with your relatives. And consider joining a support group for people experiencing divorce.
Before long, the worst of it will be over. You will be back to living your life having made the right decision.