Divorce is often described as one of the most stressful events of any person’s life, right up there with the death of a loved one. And it is the “death” of a relationship that was initially intended to last a lifetime. Even for the spouse who has decided the relationship should be over, divorce can be extremely stressful. So, how can the stress and emotional damage be decreased?
Number One: Acceptance
As soon as you know the relationship is over, whether you wanted it to be or not, you need to begin to accept that fact. The longer you fail to accept the end of the relationship, the more emotional upheaval you will experience, and the longer you will be in grief. Denial is the first phase of the grieving process, so acceptance is the only way to move to the next. Now, this is easier said than done, so you may need to use tip Number Two to get there.
Number Two: Therapy
See an excellent therapist before, during, and after divorce. This gives you a neutral professional perspective on your thoughts, decisions, etc. Good friends and family will often tell you that it’s a good idea to pour a gallon of enamel paint on your spouse’s Porsche at 3 in the morning, or cancel your spouse’s health insurance… A good therapist will help you see why that’s not in your best interest. He or she can also help you with a plan which looks at your future as opposed to the difficult and unfortunate past. This will help your lawyer, and you, get you to the best possible outcome in your divorce—and that’s the goal, right?
Number Three: Do your homework
Assuming you’ve hired a good lawyer, he or she will still need your help to get a good result for you. If you don’t do what your lawyer asks you to do, and do it timely, your divorce will not go well and you will have a less than optimum result. It’s amazing how many clients don’t get this, and they find out that it’s not a good approach. But if the homework is difficult or confusing, just schedule an appointment with the paralegal or attorney and ask for help. Speaking of help, that leads to tip Number Four…
Number Four: Ask for help!!
There are many people in your life who are happy to help you if you ask. Friends, clergy, co-workers, bosses, relatives, your legal team—and sometimes even the person who is divorcing you. You are not likely to do this well by yourself. Ask for help. (But not all advice is equal, so you should check with your attorney if you have any concerns at all about your friend’s advice—see Tip Number Two!).
Number Five: Pamper yourself
This is a tough, tough time! Don’t hesitate to pamper yourself with whatever it is that makes you happy (as long as it’s not illegal or involving a romantic encounter—see our blog page for advice on the latter): massage, yoga, personal trainer, a new healthy (but tasty) diet, a trip to see a close friend, etc. Now, if any of these are unusually expensive, you should talk with your lawyer first. Otherwise, find as many ways as possible to pamper and take care of yourself.
So, there are five tips for self-care in a divorce. There are many others, but if you followed these five, you would greatly decrease the chances of having a long, painful divorce–and you might even be able to describe it as a “good” divorce!