If you're trying to figure out how to cope with divorce, know that there is no guaranteed method that you can use in order to make the process of divorce easier. Ending a marriage can be emotionally trying regardless of the circumstances, so the trick is to find the best coping mechanisms that work for you.
12 Tips to Help You Cope with Divorce
1. Accept That It's Over
More than likely, you started your married life with the best of intentions. At that point, you could not have predicted that your relationship with your former spouse would have reached the point of dissolution. Accept the fact that the relationship has broken down and you can't go back to the way it was, even if you are still co-parenting with your former spouse. This is critical to your recovery. According to Divorce Recovery Life Coach Shelley Stile, it's critical to accept the fact that the marriage has ended in order to build your new life.
2. Grieve Your Loss
Grief is a natural emotional state following any kind of loss, including divorce. As Robert E. Emery, Ph.D., author of The Truth about Children and Divorce, states that it's essential to give yourself time to grieve. Experiencing grief is necessary come to terms with the end of your marriage. There is no way to predict how long the process will take. Everyone copes differently. The grieving process is not a straight line. You won't find that each day is better than the one before. You may think that you are well on your way to dealing with divorce grief and then the feelings of deep sadness, anger, and regret return.
3. Avoid Focusing on Blame
Assigning blame for the dissolving of your marriage to your ex-spouse or to yourself is counterproductive and does not help you move forward. This is important for you, as well as for the well-being of your children. Randall Krupsaw, Ph.D. lists avoiding placing blame on your former spouse as a key point in his article, Effective Parenting After Separation and Divorce. After all, divorce is difficult enough for a kid without having to be exposed to parents who bicker back and forth about who was at fault for what.
When trying to figure out how to cope with divorce, accept that both of you were probably at fault in one way or another and now it is time to move on as a divorced couple. What that will look like depends largely on whether or not the two of you have children or business ties, but the more i two of you can agree, the easier it will be to cope with the divorce.
4. Maintain Daily Activities
Alyssa Johnson of Remarriage Success states that establishing a routine following divorce is critical to moving on in her article After a Divorce: Getting Life Back to "Normal". It can be difficult to maintain day-to-day activities in the midst of divorce, but doing so can help you feel more in control. When your inclination is to curl up in bed and cry for a week, try engaging in a favorite activity instead. Your reward will be a sense of personal accomplishment followed by a feeling of strength.
5. Participate in Therapy
In a Yahoo! Voices interview, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Tamara Auguer strongly recommends therapy with a counselor specifically trained to help patients with divorce-related issues. It's a fact that people going through a divorce often find talking to a therapist to be helpful. The therapy sessions are a safe place to sort through what happened and your feelings about the end of your marriage. You can examine the choices you made in your relationship to learn why you made them.
By taking a close look at your marriage and the issues that caused it to break down, you can learn how to make better choices in your future relationships. When you are ready to date again, you will have a better picture of what kind of relationship you want and need. Friends and family are supportive, but sometimes we need more help than the people who love us can give.
Another advantage to seeing a therapist is the sessions are confidential. The client is free to express him or herself freely to the therapist without feeling awkward or embarrassed about revealing private information.
6. Self-Expression Through Journaling
Doing so can help you cope and have a positive impact on your overall well-being. In a PsychCentral article on the Health Benefits of Journaling, Licensed Clinical Social Worker Maud Purcell discusses how keeping a journal can help people cope with stress and anxiety in their lives, as well as have a positive impact on overall mental health and well-being.
Although it may be painful at first, keep a journal during and your divorce as a form of self-expression. Use it to record the progression of your emotions as well as the milestones you achieve towards healing. When you look back on your thoughts, you'll likely see a pattern of improvement in how you're coping with the divorce. This can bolster confidence and speed healing.
7. Reach Out to Friends
The process of divorce can cause people to withdraw from friends and extended family members. Not only do you generally feel less social, you may also worry you'll become a burden to other people. However, according to the WebMD article Life After Divorce: 3 Survival Strategies, seeking out a support network that includes friends can play an important role in recovery. Friends can provide valuable commiseration and help you cope with your divorce at the same time. Spending time with your friends one-on-one or in groups can go a long way toward helping you cope.
8. Be Good to Yourself
It will take some time for you to adjust to this major change in your life. It's important to realize that divorce can have a major impact on your health. Divorce attorneys Collins & Collins urge clients to "prioritize their health and well-being." During this time, treat yourself as well as you can by eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and engaging in exercise regularly. Also, if you choose to use alcohol, do so only in moderation.
9. Don't Rush Into Romance
You may think that now is the time to go out and find another suitable spouse, or maybe you are anxious to get back out on the dating scene so you can give yourself the opportunity to be wild. However, Attorney Helene Taylor, founder of The Modern Woman's Divorce Guide, urges divorcees to stop to consider their reasons for wanting to date again before seeking a new romantic relationship and to take care to avoid dating too soon.
Coping with a divorce can be much easier if you do not bring yet another person into the mix. Even if you crave the support of a new boyfriend or girlfriend, realize that all people are fallible so the person you turn to may let you down. This will only compound the emotional difficulties surrounding your divorce. Take this time to focus on yourself and on your needs as well as the needs of your children, if you have any. Save the dating game for when you have already taken the time to find out who you are now as well as what your true needs are. By giving yourself the time you need to come to terms with what has happened, you will be better prepared for your next relationship.
10. Pursue Meaningfulness
According to a DivorceMagazine.com article, the time after a divorce is a great time to rediscover yourself and create the life that you want. Fill your time with things that matter, both to you personally and to the good of the world. If you don't have a career or a job, actively pursue one. You can also go back to school and volunteer for a worthy cause. In the process, you'll gain independence and set a good example for those closest to you.
11. Refresh Your Surroundings
It may sound like an inconsequential thing, but redecorating your surroundings can actually change the way you feel and think, especially if you are still living in the home you shared with your former spouse. Slap a coat or two of paint on the walls, spring for some wallpaper or maybe even purchase some new furniture. Your new independence deserves a fresh look. See 10 Ways to Redecorate After a Divorce for tips on updating your surroundings so they are more attractive and comfortable, as well as to make them uniquely yours.
12. Take Back Control
Part of coping with the end of a marriage is taking control of your life post-divorce. Try to embrace your new life and refuse to fashion your new life into something your ex-spouse wants you to be. Decide for yourself what you want your life to look like, and realize that while a divorce can be painful, it can also be the beginning of a new life that you create for yourself. See Divorce: Let Go and Gain Control for tips on how you can put yourself in the driver's seat of your destiny.
Coping Takes Time
Coping after divorce is certainly not easy. Like all new things, figuring out the best ways to cope with divorce requires the capacity to remain open to learning new skills. In the end, good coping skills will make you stronger than ever and ready to tackle a brand new life as an independent and capable person. There is life after divorce, and it can be a fulfilling one.