Orange County Christian Counseling
A divorce is a life-changing event. It is the end of what was once considered the future for two people. Maybe you dreamt of raising your children together in a home you purchased and seeing your grandchildren run around the property one day. Perhaps you and your spouse planned to age gracefully as companions, friends, and lovers until the end.
But something happened along the way. Something changed. Divorce has an emotional impact, whether it was your decision, your spouse’s choice, or an agreeable solution between you. It can also deal a blow to your physical health, especially if you have adopted unhealthy habits during the divorce. Learning how to cope with divorce can help you get back on track and accept that more incredible things are waiting for you on the other side.
Why divorce is hard
Divorce is hard because you grieve the loss of the relationship. You may feel you are done with your ex and want nothing more than never to see them again. Yet, subconsciously, your mind begins the healing process through the anger phase.
Below are the stages of the grieving process. You may reach each stage at different times, and a few may last longer than others.
The stages of grief:
You might get stuck in a particular stage (like depression) and need professional help before you are ready to move forward. Reach out to a counselor if you need help.
How to cope with divorce
As you move through the various stages of the grieving process, you must learn how to cope with divorce in healthy ways and rediscover yourself. Often, we lose ourselves in the arguments and the fights, in the feelings of unworthiness and loneliness. Recovering from a divorce means finding your self-worth again and rebuilding your life into something better and brighter.
The following are several ways to get on track to a fresh start.
Don’t try to be perfect.
Sometimes we try to make divorce seem like it is not a big thing. Perhaps we do this because so many marriages end in divorce, and we think we are experiencing a “normal” in relationships. It is estimated that around 44% of marriages will end in divorce in 2022. That is 2.4 million divorces in one year.
Although we should not consider divorce a standard for our society, we should accept our part in losing the relationship and give ourselves grace. Relationships do end for various reasons. Some reasons are extremely serious, like adultery or abuse. Beating yourself up over the end of the marriage is not going to help you find closure.
Instead, acknowledge the hurt. Now is not the time to be a perfectionist or pretend as if your heart is not broken. You will forget things. You will feel like your schedule is out of control. Do your best to schedule what you can, make to-do lists, and write down important things during this season.
Instead of shrugging off the pain or hiding your emotions, consider confiding in a trusted friend or family member. Of course, compartmentalizing can have a place, but when you are learning how to cope with divorce, you need to be able to express your emotions in a safe environment with someone you trust.
During a divorce, friends of the couple can take sides or find themselves stuck in the middle. You might be wary about confiding in these people, especially if they might share your details with others or with your ex. Instead, think about reaching out to someone impartial such as an older person at your church, a clergy member, or a counselor.
Do not try to stamp out your emotions and pain and hide it from others because you are afraid of appearing foolish or melodramatic. Eventually, these emotions manifest into other behaviors or spring up at the worst time.
Get back to caring for yourself.
Our physical and emotional health can take a toll during a divorce. The pressure, time constraints, depression, and other emotions can force us to take a backseat and develop unhealthy habits.
One of the first steps in caring for yourself is to adopt a healthier diet, consistently exercise, and get enough sleep. You may want to read books and articles or speak to a nutritionist on the best ways to incorporate healthier foods into your diet without making drastic changes. Drastic changes too soon can derail your efforts when you are already going through an emotional time.
Get clearance from your physician before starting an exercise regimen, then choose an activity you love. For example, try walking in the morning or after work to get your heart pumping, burn excess fat, boost your mood and immune system, and clear your head. You may also want to skip the nightly television binges and opt for an earlier bedtime to have enough time for restorative sleep and make it easier to get up in the morning.
Don’t jump back into the dating world right away.
When you jump back into a relationship soon after separation or divorce, the likelihood of it becoming a long-term relationship is slim. About 90% of rebound relationships end within the first few months. Most of these relationships last a few weeks to one year.
Instead of looking for a person to fill your spouse’s role, focus on your healing and becoming independent. Even if you were the breadwinner in your household, your spouse might have fulfilled specific functions such as companion, lover, housekeeper, landscaper, cook, kids chauffeur, financial manager, and more. Running a household by yourself takes a lot of responsibility.
Work on moving into these roles and living independently. Then, when you are ready to engage in a relationship emotionally, you will better understand yourself, what you will and will not tolerate, and your new boundaries.
Avoid heated arguments with your ex.
Heated arguments between your ex and you will only make things worse. Things are often said in the heat of the moment that people do not mean but can never be unsaid To stop further damage to the relationship, try to agree calmly.
If that is impossible due to differences in your personalities or the subject matter, then take a breather. Decide to end the discussion, leave the room, or disconnect the call. You may want to ask someone to assume the role of mediator. This person might be someone from legal counsel or a mutual friend.
Even if you do not agree completely, avoid arguments in front of your children. Children who witness these exchanges or are forced to take sides can feel caught in the middle. In addition, they may develop their own issues during the divorce as they try to please both parents or push one parent away. If you are in a co-parent situation, try to work together to avoid badmouthing the other, even when alone with your children.
Know that this too will pass.
The initial heartbreak, anger, and depression will pass. It will take time, and you may not wake up one morning after a night of tears, ready to take on the world. But it will happen. One day you will realize that the loss of that relationship hurts less, you no longer miss the person as you did, and you are emotionally in a good place.
Don’t try to rush these feelings. It is all part of the healing process. Once you know that you have reached that level, you will be ready to begin dating again if you choose. You may still have issues to address that you may want to see a counselor about, such as trusting a new person if your marriage ended because of abuse or infidelity. Counseling and overcoming those issues are part of the healing journey.
When a fres h start seems far away
Contact our office today if you need help learning how to cope with divorce. We can schedule you with a counselor specializing in divorce, overcoming grief, and resuming relationships. Contact us today.
“Wedding Ring”, Courtesy of Engin Akyurt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Walking Away”, Courtesy of Jurien Huggins, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Broken Link”, Courtesy of Jackson Simmer, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pensive”, Courtesy of [ik] @invadingkingdom, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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