Your ex texts you to insult your parenting skills. Your mom bombards your email inbox with links to articles about everything from coping to cooking for one. Your best friend posts pictures from your recent girls’ night out all over social media and tags your face above captions such as, “he’s gone for good and she’s loving life!”
Welcome to divorce in the digital age. If you’re new to the game, you’ll find out quickly that technology is both a blessing and a curse for those in the throes of separation. While it’s comforting to have support, understanding and a laugh always at the tips of our fingers, we navigate treacherous waters when the same communication channels are used for vengeance.
Following are a few tips to help preserve your strength and sanity when divorcing in the digital age. Fair Warning: this isn’t an easy list to adhere to…
1. Spend Some Time Unplugged:
I know this can be difficult. I remember the months of misery during which I felt as if I constantly needed to be propped up by those who cared for me. In desperation, I checked for emails and text messages several times each hour. Eventually I realized that I had nothing to fear by being alone. I dove into the silence, found gratitude for the stillness and got to know the parts of myself I’d neglected while with my ex. You can start small, with five minutes of meditation or twenty minutes with a book. Gradually, you’ll come to realize that you don’t need to be constantly connected to feel fulfilled.
2. Establish Boundaries and Rules for Communicating With Your Ex:
Exes have a way of turning a quick question into a day-long battle. With fingers fueled by emotion, it’s easy to fire off email after email (or text after text), erecting defenses, launching accusations and accomplishing absolutely nothing. The good thing about digital communication channels is they afford the opportunity to read, re-read, reconsider and rewrite before hitting “send.” Use this to your advantage. Limit your content to necessary information only. Consider each word and remove those snide remarks that often pour forth in the first draft. Do not reply to anything which is unproductive, and be willing to discontinue the conversation when boundaries of respectful behavior are breached.
3. Keep Your Personal Life off Social Media:
Especially if you’re involved in a high-conflict divorce, it’s important to remember that everything you post can be twisted, misinterpreted and used against you. What might your ex’s attorney say about those pictures from your recent girls’ night out? How about photos of your children in an establishment that serves alcohol? Flirty messages from potential suitors? Keep your social slate clean by keeping all details about your location, activities and children out of the public spotlight.
4. Stop Stalking:
Are you lurking on his social profiles? Googling the people he interacts with? Have you searched the friends of your mutual friends to see if they’re friends with his new “friend”? Are you looking up any unrecognized numbers on the cell phone bill you still share? Do you tell yourself that you’re only looking for information to share with your attorney in order to help your case? Are you convinced that you’re operating in the best interest of your children? If you answered “yes,” you’re perfectly normal. But you’re also hurting yourself. Digging for dirt might fill you with a sense of accomplishment or superiority, but it can become an addiction that imprisons you in a defunct relationship. When you get the urge to search, switch gears and focus on yourself. Take a break, take a walk or look for new ways to decorate your bathroom. Move forward by putting your energy into reclaiming your freedom and personal space.
Regardless of the tools at hand, divorce is always a bumpy ride. You can help reduce the chances of a digital disaster by setting boundaries, remaining mindful and saving space for your sanity.