Although couples with children have a slightly lower divorce rate than childless couples, 40% of married households with children still end in divorce. Divorce is a major life change and is considered the second most stressful life event second only to the death of a spouse. For all family members, it is a difficult time. Working through custody, property, and financial matters can, unfortunately, bring out the worst in people.
There is so much to cope with and manage, and often parents are struggling with their own complex feelings as well as their children's. Divorce is painful and you will mourn the end of your marriage even if you accept the relationship wasn't good and know that ending the marriage was the best thing to do. When relationships end, we can experience a profound sadness, anger, and grief. These are all common reactions whenever we experience a significant loss in our lives. We are disappointed at the loss of shared dreams and the commitment we shared with our partner.
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When marriages fail, everything is disrupted:
- Consistency of your usual routine is upended
- Loss of companionship
- Disruption of financial stability
- Your responsibilities may double
- You become a single parent
- Your identity
Your children will need comfort and reassurance and this may seem difficult to provide when you are uncertain about the future.
Because you are the parent, your children will rely on your reactions to help them determine how they should be acting. If you are angry, anxious, stressed, or depressed, your children will mostly likely be as well. They need you to take care of your own emotional health so that they can believe that things will be ok. For many parents, it may seem as though they can’t take the time they really need to mourn the loss of their marriage because they are also working hard to manage their children’s needs after the breakup. How To Tell the Kids You're Getting Divorced
Recognize that yours and your children’s needs may change after the divorce and it’s important to take steps to maintain your mental and emotional health. At this trying time, it is more important than ever to take good care of yourself.
Pay attention to your own needs too. Sometimes we spend so much time worrying about the needs of our children or others we forget to take care of ourselves. It’s important to maintain balance between work, parenting, household responsibilities, and personal activities/hobbies.
Avoid using alcohol, drugs or food to cope. Often, when you’re hurting, you may be tempted to try to soothe your pain with alcohol, drugs, or food. But trying to cope in these ways is unhealthy and self-destructive in the long run. It is also important for your children to see you using healthy coping skills.
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Get plenty of rest. It is important to make sure that you get enough sleep (without sleeping all day) so your body and mind can relax.
Exercise. Vigorous exercise 3-5 times a week will go a long way to assist you with relieving some of the stress you are feeling and boost those serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain, which help you feel better.