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Divorce is the second most traumatic experience in marriage, next to the death of a spouse. “One out of three marriages end in divorce.” How many times have you come across this statement of fact? How many times have you assured yourself that your marriage is not in this category? Probably a countless number of times for both questions. But you find yourself here, looking for insights on how to handle divorce.
Before you go ahead to learn how to handle divorce, there are a few things you need to keep in mind depending on the category you fall into: if you’re still in a marriage, don’t feel guilty for reading this article (I’m sure you have your reasons); if you’re just separated and still trying to find balance, keep an open mind as you read through.
In case you’re already divorced and seeking some form of relief, make a verbal affirmation to yourself that after reading, you will implement some things regarding life after sudden divorce; and if you’re reading to satisfy your curiosity, make sure to take at least one thing as a lesson learned from here.
It is easy for an outsider to give you a light pat on the shoulder and say something like, “take heart, time heals”, but that’s never enough. There is no article or blog post that can teach you how to handle divorce just by following every instruction dogmatically, neither is there a sympathizer that can heal your wounds with a few words or a subtle touch. That’s because what works for you might not, and in most cases, do not, work for other people.
There are several emotions involved in this experience: pain (physical and emotional), divorce frustration, psychological stress, etc. That’s the purpose of this article, it covers different aspects of the process like dealing with divorce anxiety, how to take emotions out of divorce, how to cope with divorce as a man and as a woman, and so on.
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Table of Contents
How to Deal With Divorce When You Don’t Want It
Breakups, separations, and divorces can be mutual sometimes. This means that you and your partner agree that it’s best to go your separate ways, and as terrible as these things are emotionally, mutual separations are the best forms of separation.
What then happens when the reverse is the case? Where do you learn how to deal with divorce when you don’t want it? Right here, that’s where. I’ll tell you this now, your love is worth fighting for until you realize that that’s all you’re doing and you’re the only one doing it. Marriage is a partnership, it shouldn’t be only you fighting for its survival.
Coping with divorce when you don’t want it can be a bit tougher than the mutual separations. You tend to wonder continuously where it all went wrong, what could you have possibly done to make your partner “hate” you so much that they want to leave? are you so unworthy of love?.
You try to overlook things that would normally make you tick, you try to revive the lost chemistry between you and your partner, to learn how to improve marriage intimacy, you try to remember the good moments, all in an attempt to keep the marriage alive. It is very important to try. It is also very important to know when trying is doing more harm than good.
Pay close attention to this: you are worthy, the loss of spark is not entirely your fault. It takes two to tango, and the fact that your partner is not willing to try can only mean that that relationship cannot be salvaged, and remaining in it will be toxic to you. [Read this paragraph again, and then read it again (aloud this time) until it sinks in].
Remember you can’t always get what you want. It is a bitter truth, but it’s the truth nonetheless. Acknowledging and making peace with this truth is a good way to understand how to handle divorce, especially when you don’t want it.
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Dealing With Divorce Anxiety
Nobody hears the word “divorce” and thinks happy thoughts, at least not in my experience. The second that word drops in a marriage, it is followed by all sorts of reactions, some of which are uneasiness and anxiety.
Dealing with divorce anxiety would require you to know what causes this emotion in the first place. Of course, the word alone is enough to cause fear, but what images exactly does the mind paint that brings about that fear.
Divorce anxiety is usually caused by one or a combination of some of the following, and knowing these factors is one step forward in learning how to handle divorce.
1. Living separation: It is no news that humans are social creatures. We thrive in the presence and with the support of our fellow humans. Without others, there’d be no bar against which you measure your success, happiness, and wealth. Being in a committed relationship, marriage, in this case, is one way to emphasize the need for social interaction.
Having spent years depending on your partner for little things and huge deals, it is normal to feel fear at the mere thought of losing that bond. You start to wonder “If I get divorced now. What do I do?” How do I cope as one person after being a part of a whole for so long? Not having answers to these questions are sure to bring on anxiety.
2. Loosing existing friendships/Making new ones: You might wonder how does divorce affects you socially?
Here’s how: you and your partner have the same circle of friends. When they get news of your divorce, there are two different scenarios likely to occur. They either take sides, or they stay neutral and either of this makes the process a lot more unbearable. Because taking sides means you feel betrayed by the ones that support your partner, and sitting on the fence means you feel unloved by your so-called friends.
This causes anxiety as you get confused about how to relate to people socially, and at the same time figure out how to handle divorce. It also causes an unnecessary fear of strangers and making new human connections.
3. Financial fears: This probably applies more to middle-income earners. It is easier to split the cost of living than to cater for all your financial needs alone. It is therefore very logical to feel overwhelmed by this reality.
When you find yourself in this position, try and remember the times you didn’t have a life partner, the times you had two jobs to pay the bills, the times you put in more effort just to survive. It might not have been easy, but you did it then and you can do it again. Taking control of your financial situation will certainly help in dealing with divorce anxiety.
4. Parenting: Divorce anxiety is especially high in couples with children. The thought of sharing responsibilities and having disagreements while being respectful to your former partner is almost impossible to fathom. The burning hatred you feel especially when you’re pointing the accusing finger at your partner is enough to keep you on edge.
Dealing with this would usually require considering your children. You’ve already made a lot of sacrifices for your kids, this will just be another aspect where you sacrifice. Trying to maintain peace and remain respectful while having conversations with your separated partner might seem impossible, but with your child’s welfare at the “front” of your mind, I can assure you that you’ll be able to pull it off most of the time.
All of the above, and more, are known causes of divorce anxiety, and dealing with them would require different approaches. For the living separation, it is usually a good idea to find other loved ones to stay with you for a while; that way their humor or free spirit will rub off on you. For the loss of friendship and fear of starting new ones, you can try new hobbies or restart an abandoned one with the sole purpose of healing, and if during such leisure hour, you meet someone new, then keep an open mind and see how it goes.
Dealing with divorce anxiety is not a piece of cake, but as long as you’re intentional about moving forward, it wouldn’t be as hard as it normally is.
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How To Get Through A Divorce Emotionally
Mutual or not, divorce is usually accompanied by a barrage of emotions. There’s shock, especially if you weren’t expecting it. There’s anxiety as we discussed earlier, where it slowly starts to sink in and your mind comes with a million reasons why divorce is a bad idea. There’s frustration, physical and psychological stress, and most dominantly, there’s pain. Knowing how to get through a divorce emotionally is important in knowing how to handle divorce.
Pain is easier to handle when you acknowledge it. Acknowledging it means seeing the marriage for what it has become instead of what it used to be or what you want it to be. It means knowing that the love you shared with your partner, even though still existent, is not enough to keep the marriage going anymore.
It means letting yourself cry for hours, staring into space for a day, starving for a day, refusing to talk to anyone, moping around, or some other related reactions. It means mourning the loss of a loved one, even though they’re alive and well.
No one can tell you exactly how to take emotion out of divorce, without mentioning the fact that you need to grieve. Without grieving, you’ll be left with misplaced anger, resentment, and divorce frustration, which are all still emotions.
Give yourself time. Don’t be pressurized into saying you’re fine. Only you really know when you’re fine.
How To Cope With Divorce As A Man
There’s a popular belief that men are not supposed to express their feelings. They are expected to be assertive, stoic, dominant, and every other adjective that preaches strength. It is wrong to have this ideology since men are just as entitled to their emotions as women. This is a short guide on how to cope with divorce as a man.
1. Don’t be hard on yourself. Embrace the loss and the pain that comes with it and let yourself grieve.
2. As you grieve, keep in mind that recovery is imminent, and there’s room for new relationships. When you do recover, don’t go for a rebound, make sure you heal so you don’t start another commitment for the wrong reasons.
3. Avoid unnecessary judgments and desire for revenge (to hurt your partner as much as she hurt you), it’ll only prolong the agony for you.
4. Try to maintain a cordial relationship with your wife, especially if children are involved. They will also feel the effect of the divorce, so be mindful of the things you say about their mother in their presence.
5. Prepare to take on other responsibilities. Divorce comes with a ton of them, and as a man, you will feel the burden especially if your main responsibility during the marriage was financial. You will need to relearn to take care of yourself, watch out for your diet, laundry, etc.
6. Healthily manage the pain. Exercise. Revisit abandoned hobbies. Surround yourself with friends. Write down your feelings. Don’t resort to the consumption of harmful substances like alcohol and drugs, they never truly help.
7. Renew or strengthen your relationship with God. You are in a lot of pain, undergoing a lot of stress; if there’s anybody that can understand you and help you heal, it’s God. Calling on God for relief could help you see your future in a positive light.
8. Talk to a therapist/psychologist. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that asking for help means you’re weak. It doesn’t, and even if it does, remember that you’re human and you weren’t born to be strong every second of your life. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask a professional.
How to Cope With Divorce As A Woman
Divorce is the loss of a loved one, the loss of companionship, the loss of family, and the loss of support. As a woman, to understand how to handle divorce, you should cry to your heart’s content and then do the following:
1. Keep a journal to write down emotions and problems. Writing down emotions help you process what you’re going through, and writing down problems reminds you that life has to go on and solutions are needed for you to move on.
2. Establish a routine or have a to-do list. This will help you in two ways: first, you’ll have clarity on the tasks to be carried out from the beginning till the end of each day; and it will reduce the time you spend getting lost in your thoughts, wondering what was and what could have been.
3. Ask for help. Grieving and healing are easier said than done. Surround yourself with friends so that if and when you need a shoulder to cry on, you’ll definitely get it. When you ask for help, you need to be ready to accept it. It is one thing to scream “HELP” from the bottom of a well, it is an entirely different thing to grab on to the rope that’s supposed to pull you out. Make sure you don’t refuse the rope when it comes down to you.
4. Make decisions with your children in mind. There are options for co-parenting and single parenting. When you’re trying to decide, do what’s best for your kids.
Shared parenting might be a good idea if the reason for divorce is purely emotional, but if you’re leaving your husband because he’s physically abusive, then single parenting might be the best for both you and your kids. Understand the situation properly before agreeing to any arrangements.
5. Talk to God. Cry to God. It is as easy as that. Tell Him to teach you how to cope with divorce as a woman. Tell Him to strengthen you in every aspect of your life. You can’t go wrong with your affairs in God’s hands.
Solutions to Prevent Divorce
You’ve read quite a lot on how to handle divorce so far, but what if that’s not what you’re looking for. What if you’re in the category of separated or still married, and all you seek are solutions to prevent divorce? Don’t worry, you’ll find out about that in this section.
Divorce can be prevented in two different situations, with almost the same practices. So, if you’re wondering on how to prevent divorce before marriage, or how to cope with impending divorce, then read on.
Solutions to prevent divorce include:
• Ensuring that you’re always (or at least 90% of the time) on the same page with your partner. Divorces are not always a result of infidelity, frequent misunderstandings are enough to breed bitterness, resentment, and eventually collapse of the union. Work consciously on your communication skills and your relationship is bound to survive the test of time.
• Inviting God to bless the union every day. This cannot be stressed enough. Sometimes, effective communication is not enough, divine intervention is needed. A home that frequently remembers God is a home that knows peace at all times.
• Avoiding unnecessary secrecy and omissions. Do you know how terrible you would feel when you find out your partner has kept important information from you? That’s exactly how they’ll feel if the case was reversed. Don’t hold back.
Your entire life is your partner’s business, so don’t use the excuse of “I don’t want to bother him/her”. Go ahead and bother, that’s exactly what you both signed up for.
• Understanding what exactly marriage is. If it’s your first attempt at marriage, you don’t just jump into it. Drag that partner of yours to attend seminars and counseling sessions with you. Listen to what experienced people have to say about marriage.
Talk about it when the topic is still fresh in mind, just to be certain that you’re both invested in sustaining the relationship. If he/she is nonchalant and dismissive, then they’re probably not worth spending forever with, so it’ll be a good idea to walk away as fast as you can.
• Staying intimate. Search for articles on how to improve marriage intimacy, or different love languages, and some other related topics. If you remain in the same pattern for years, things could get boring, and believe me when I say you don’t want that for your marriage. Be the one to suggest exciting things to try out.
Try every day to make your partner fall hopelessly in love with you. Spice things up. Get freaky. You both deserve occasional breaks from normal.
If you can do all of these and more, then there’s a high possibility that you won’t need to search for how to handle divorce at any point in your marriage.
Life After A Sudden Divorce
Going through a divorce can be very disruptive to your life. The sudden realization that something as insignificant as your choice of words has to change, such as going from “we” to “I” when trying to make a decision. You tend to wonder “when does the pain of divorce stop hurting? Will I ever heal from this? Will I ever be able to move on?”
Let me tell you this now, there is life after sudden divorce, your life. Divorce is as much of a new beginning as it is an ending. Being optimistic about the several possibilities ahead will make the thought of life after sudden divorce more appealing to you.
There are a few things you can do to stay on the positive side. You can:
• Set realistic goals to redefine yourself and live the life that you desire, or the life that you put on hold just to satisfy your partner, like furthering your education.
• Explore and discover new passions, or revive dead ones. For example, you can finally get that dog you couldn’t buy it because your partner had allergies. Cool, right?
• Keep an eye out for new relationships. There’s no such thing as too late or too early to fall in love again. Time is tricky, and it differs per person.
There’s something more important than seeking knowledge on how to handle divorce, and that is implementing the knowledge gained. You have taken the first step to heal by reading this article, it is now time to decide what applies to you and how you’ll make use of it to get better.
Dealing with divorce anxiety, and coping with it as a man or a woman is not an overnight experience. It is a gradual process that could take weeks, months, or even years. Take your time, and let your body do the healing.