As you begin to move past your divorce, well-meaning loved ones will undoubtedly offer their two cents. But where should your priorities lie as you build your new life? You’re not in this alone. Take a look at our top three tips for coping after your divorce.
Building a support network can be the most effective step you take toward coping with your divorce and the emotions which go along with it. Strategically seeking out support resources — including trusted friends, family and possibly a therapist or support group — are critical for healthy coping.
If you don’t feel that you have a support network of loved ones, prioritize developing one. Reach out to your children’s pediatrician; make friends with teachers and school administrators. If you’re relocating, make finding a close-knit neighborhood high on your checklist, especially if you have children.
Therapy and support groups can also help keep you accountable, which in turn will stave off feelings of isolation and despair. Secluding yourself can raise stress levels, reduce concentration, negatively affect your work relationships and overall health. If you don’t already have a support system, commit yourself to interviewing several therapists until you find the right fit, or joining a support group that is welcoming and authentic.
While divorce may close one door, it offers the opportunity for you to open many others. And although grieving is a process which everyone moves through at their own pace, looking at this time as a period of self-exploration can help you conquer feelings of isolation.
“Take up new hobbies, activities, interests – expand yourself. Stay busy in a constructive way,” suggests Patricia Covalt, PhD, a Denver-based licensed marriage therapist.
The non-profit organization Mental Health America suggests reconnecting with things you enjoy doing independent of your spouse. What have you always wanted to try? Signing up for a class, volunteering and investing in your hobbies don’t just take your mind off of your daily circumstances — they can help connect you with other adults. By capturing your attention and bringing your focus away from the past, new interests can help you think of yourself as an explorer and a decision-maker rather than a victim.
Remember, it isn’t divorce that defines you, but how you choose to move through it.
Helping your children through your divorce means putting their needs ahead of your own. Openly arguing with or criticizing your ex might harm your child emotionally, and it could also affect your parent-child relationship.
“You’re dealing with a lot of grief and personal feelings. But always avoid criticizing the other parent in front of the children,” advises Jennipher Cole, LPC-S, a marriage and family therapist.
It’s your job to put the kids first and remove the pressure on them to choose sides. Cole says that in younger children, the stress of contentious divorces can lead to regressive behavior like bed-wetting; older children and teenagers may experience low self-esteem and risky behavior.
Supporting your kids also means listening. You may feel the need to justify your actions or prove your ex to be in the wrong; resist the temptation. That’s not your kids’ territory. Be compassionate, let them verbalize their concerns, and reassure them that the divorce is not their fault.
Do you have more questions concerning Columbus family law? Learn more about Gus Dahlberg and your team of experienced lawyers at Babbitt & Dahlberg. Get in touch with us to schedule a consultation today.