During and after a split from your spouse, you first need to survive. Then, you need to fully expect to thrive! But, of course, first things first. To survive, there are some basic actions you can take to get through this bumpy patch as seamlessly as possible:
1. Get an attorney: Immediately research the best divorce attorneys in your area and call their offices to inquire about services. This last step is important in your jurisdiction because I know of people who’ve been unable to find representation because their spouse called EVERY law office in the area first. The danger is that once a party (you, your spouse, or even parties to an affair) call a law office, their names are put directly into a computer system that indicates to the law office that the person who contacted them is a potential client and therefore they cannot, by their code of professional ethics, represent the opposing party. You want to get a crack at securing the best representation for yourself QUICKLY. To be clear, I don’t mean to suggest playing dirty by calling ALL the local attorneys. But I do want you to know that your spouse or even your spouse’s love interest—if applicable—might adopt this strategy.
2. Get your support team in place: Call family you trust and one or two of your best friends with whom you have the strongest history and who aren’t married to your spouse’s best friend. It is of the utmost importance that you get a quick support team in place for yourself. You will most definitely need it. However, think carefully who you gush to. I made the mistake of gushing to not only the very person who was having an affair with my husband but also to a friend who acted as an accomplice of sorts! Yikes! Given my experience, and listening to many other stories from other divorcees, I would suggest finding your most trustworthy friend. The question to ask before speaking is, “Do I trust this person with my life?” Because, this IS your life! You will be surprised by your own gut response to this question when you begin asking it. There are many people I respect and like who I wouldn’t instinctively trust with my life.
3. Limit what you say to neighbors, acquaintances or colleagues about the details of what is happening: By limiting what you say to a “need to know” basis, you help curb any potential gossip or judgment mill. We can’t control gossip, but we can at least work on containment. People will want to make themselves sympathetic, perhaps out of a true sense of caring and compassion, however they may not understand the HUGE damage they can do by telling even one other person. It’s best for you and your children to refrain from divulging too much information. Also, at work, a boss or colleague might pass you over for a plumb assignment because they think you are too stressed. True, you may be stressed, but you might still be able to perform well at work.
4. Find new friends who are in your situation: Fate brought to me a support group of newly-divorced women who met every other week for dinner. The organizer of that group had posted it on Meetup.com, but I didn’t know about Meetup at the time. I quite literally bumped into her at another gathering I forced myself to attend. Given this quality of fate, I am a firm believer in trying to put yourself “out there” by accepting invitations. You never know where it will lead.
5. Consider short-term therapy and temporary medication: I stayed in therapy for a few months. I can’t remember how long, but it was short-term. I also took Xanax to help me survive the tougher days. Naturally, a doctor needs to assess and prescribe the right thing for you.
6. Ask for and ALLOW others to pitch in with kid duty: Your kids will need more support because you won’t have as much attention span for them. This can be hard on children, but if you try your best to keep them preoccupied and the carpool rides consistent, it won’t be as bumpy for them as it would be otherwise. I had to jump a huge hurdle of worrying that other parents were judging the fact I could not be there as much. Out of necessity, I had to think of myself and my kids first. What surprised me was how many parents understood and stepped in over and over again, anyway. I can never thank them enough for that.
7. One Day at a Time: My mother, when my dad left, said she told herself, “Just get through the next five minutes.” She did this until she didn’t need to. Trust that you can get through the next five minutes.
8. Consider a divorce coach: I wish I had known there was such a thing as a divorce coach when I was first separated and newly divorced! I know I would have consulted with one. I really needed the kind of guidance and support an attorney just can’t provide. An attorney can only provide legal advice, not emotional or life-skill advice. In addition to being a member of your emotional support team, a divorce coach can help you organize your time with your attorney so you get through the legal process more efficiently and less expensively. The difference between a divorce coach and a therapist is that a therapist, depending on their approach, is more narrowly focused on your basic mental and emotional coping skills. A therapist is trained to spot depression or severe anxiety and treat you for that through an academically-trained method. Therapy is a health and wellness measure. Coaching is more practical and designed to empower you, both in living and shaping your life.
9. Exercise: Exercise is good no matter what you are going through, but it is critical in a crisis. I took kick boxing and it was so therapeutic. Much of my rage was channeled into the punching and kicking. I left each class feeling euphoric! I can’t even imagine what I would have been like without it.
10. Sleep and Rest: Grieving and loss do a serious number on your body and your reserves of energy. It is vital that you allow yourself little cat naps here and there and sleeping in on weekends if possible. Take whole days of rest, when you can swing it. It’s a fact of nature that your body will need more TLC during a time of loss. Say no to overbooking on things like helping in your child’s classroom or manning the snack booth at your child’s sports events. This is a time to reduce extraneous obligations. You need to focus on you.
More from DivorcedMoms.com
- 5 Ways To Regain Happiness When Dealing With Adversity
- 10 Ways I Kicked Divorce Stress In The Ass
- Divorce Is Not A Winning Game: 7 Survival Tips
- 20 Things Not To Do During Divorce