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13 Must-Know Tips For Coping With Your Divorce In A Healthy, Productive Way

coping with divorce
Heartbreak

You can get through this tough time while still maintaining your sanity. Here's how.

Divorce is a legal, emotional, psychological, physical, financial and spiritual journey. It impacts you at all levels. It’s hard-core reality without any sugar-coating.

Despite the fact that millennials wait longer to marry after completing an education and launching careers compared to past generations, divorce is still hitting at about 40% of first-time marriages. 

Regardless of your age, gender or what sociological factors drove to stand at the altar, (parental expectations, religion, financial security, children, or societal pressures), it remains a huge life altering transition that impacts all aspects of your life.  

No one plans on divorcing when they first marry. Some might say, “It just happened!” They kind of refer to it as if the marriage propelled itself automatically without any input from either them or their partner. But that only works if you’re in denial and you’ve decided not to own your part of it.

Perhaps this is the time to hit the pause button and take a look back and see how you got to this space and place in time. Did you see it running towards you? Or, did it sneak up on you when you least expected?

Either way, you never thought this would be your life!

You’ve heard the horror stories of divorce, and you’ve got friends, relatives and TV celebrities to tell you all about it. You’re in shock, you’re confused and you can’t stop crying!

Going to work seems impossible, because you can’t focus. At night when you’re alone, or when you’re in the shower, you find yourself trembling with fear. Life feels like it’s one big cookie crumble.

Most certainly, you’re hurt. But you’re not the only one, especially if there are kids involved!

There’s nothing worse than the moment when he moves out in silence, and you’re sitting there wondering: What the heck just happened? When did it even start?  Was I even awake when it happened?

How you handle this situation will dictate your life for many years — and even beyond that, too. So you decide! Whichever direction you move towards, remember you are touching the lives of many others not just your own!


RELATED: 5 Ways To Stay Cool And Win At Divorce (Even If You Hate Your Ex)


Here's what to do when talking to your spouse about the divorce:

1. Acknowledge — and accept — that it's really happening.

As angry and hurt as you might feel, you don’t have to act on your feelings in a negative way. Rather than battling in and out of court for years, accept it so you can then move on.

It's a critical first step to maintaining your sanity during these difficult times.

2. Own your part in the situation.

While tricky, this is an important step. And as soon as you're able to do this, you’ll help de-escalate any fireworks that might erupt! When you communicate with your partner, do your best to own the choices you made throughout your relationship, while also acknowledging the consequences of your actions today.

Once you do, it's possible he might reciprocate and do the same!

3. Tell him you're listening.

Now is the time to tell your partner that he’s got your full attention and you want to hear what he has to say. Once you give him the floor to speak, aim to let him finish his current thought before jumping in and interrupting him.

Hopefully, this behavior will encourage him to show you the same kind of respect when it's your turn to share.

4. Don't play the blame game.

Start a dialogue with your spouse that's free of judgment, finger pointing, yelling, name calling and projection. Maybe it would help for each of you to make some notes before the conversation, so that you can both keep the conversation on topic, rather than diving into recounts of past scenarios-gone-wrong.

5. Focus on the now.

Whenever possible, avoid speaking in the past tense or referring to a past event in reference to time. Keep your word choices current and in the momentThis will help keep your conversations focused on what you're experiencing in the moment, rather than fueling the blame games you're hoping to avoid.

Examples of what not to say:

“Eight months ago when you did…”
Or, “I’ve told you this a thousand times!”

Instead, try something like: 

“Right now, I feel nervous because I don’t want to fight with you anymore. I’m sorry it’s come to this, and I understand your reasons. My hope is that we can treat each other kindly as we move forward in figuring out the kids, the house, the money and all that. What are your thoughts?”

6. Be neutral around your kids.

Just because you’re experiencing this painful divorce from your spouse doesn’t mean you get to speak poorly about your husband or partner to your children. Let them grow up to form their own opinions and make their own choices!

Besides, you’re going to be co-parents for a lifetime, so start learning how to make the best of it now.

7. Break free from the negative patterns now.

The main goal is to not repeat your negative patterns from this marriage in your next relationship or marriage.

Going to a psychologist or licensed marriage counselor can help you and your spouse examine what caused the breakdown in your marriage. Identifying the underlying reasons for your split can help you break free from this cycle of pain and blame in your next marriage — and avoid dragging your kids into more drama!


RELATED: 10 Surprising Reasons Why Divorce Is So Common These Days


To help yourself cope day-to-day, try these six self-care steps that will boost your physical, mental and emotional well-being:

1. Get some sleep — you need it!

Don't forget the importance of sleep, especially since sleep deprivation mimics symptoms of depression! Nutrition and exercise are also key in helping you to sleep, focus and have the energy to continue with the daily stressors of this divorce and life in general.

2. Still be you during your divorce.

Just because you're going through a divorce doesn't mean you have to put the rest of your life on hold. Make time to do anything that brings you pleasure or entertainment, like reading a book or meeting friends for lunch.

This might even be a good time to find a new hobby, sign up for a workshop, or do something special for yourself to help take your mind off things temporarily.

3. Strike a work-life balance.

Now more than ever, if you’re becoming a single parent or the sole breadwinner for the first time, it's critical that you find a balance between your time and everyone else's. Work life, family life and private time for yourself are all a priority! 

4. Take time to focus inward.

If possible, carve out some "me time" for introspection. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices are all very helpful practices that have been proven to be healthy habits to foster. Even taking just 10 minutes a day to yourself can help!

5. Be the supportive parent you want to be.

Help your children make the adjustments they need by getting them into counseling or exposing them to educational information that will normalize their emotional and behavioral reactions to the divorce.

Even if they seem fine now, these issues are still important to address because negative feelings and behaviors may emerge later, especially if they keep everything inside and don’t talk about the divorce to anyone.

6. Remember, you're not going crazy — you're getting a divorce.

Be kind to yourself and know that everything you’re experiencing is a natural reaction to the stress that’s hitting you full force. Understandably, your bandwidth for worry and stress just expanded, and change is everywhere: your identity, your income, your friends, your family, your neighborhood… everything familiar to you is now different. And that's OK!

But if you keep struggling emotionally yet avoid seeking help because you think things will change, think again. They probably won’t, and you’ll wind up having more stressors to add to your existing ones. So if you find yourself stuck with negative feelings, such as anger, anxiety or depression, seek professional help from a counselor who can help you get through the rough spots. 


RELATED: Why Studies That Say Divorce Is Bad For Kids Is B.S.


This is your chance to make this a healthy divorce, which means you take care of yourself in the process. It also means you have compassion for yourself, for your ex-spouse and for your children or family members.

Use these tips to stop the negative pattern and to start embracing more positive life-coping skills and strategies. You can do this! Decide to take the first step now.

Margot Brown has helped couples and individuals create happier lives for over 20 years. She’s the author of Kickstart Your Relationship Now! Move On or Move OutYou can find it on Amazon and in local bookstores near you.

This article was originally published at Kickstart Your Relationship Now Blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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