Divorce is an emotional plight whether amicable or not. Individuals need to get organized and be aware of what they want and need from their divorce proceedings all while dealing with the emotional toll it takes on them and their family. Attorneys don’t have time to always hold their hand or wipe their tears or deal with their emotions. A divorce attorney’s concentration is on the legal issues of the divorce and how to best protect their client’s interests from a business perspective. But divorcing individuals need to feel heard on both their legal and non-legal issues. They need an objective person to talk through their fears about going to court, dealing with a belligerent spouse, finding a new place to live, and parenting solo. They need help managing emotions so that they can gather the information needed and articulate their own needs and expectations of the proceedings to their attorney. Addressing the non-legal issues is not what divorce attorneys are retained for but is both vital and essential to handling the proceedings efficiently and to transitioning smoothly onto the next stage of life.
Transitioning from divorce in a healthy manner involves many things. However, two key tools are 1) being able to let go emotionally of the marriage and the house and 2) reestablishing yourself positively in a new space and life.
As with most things, change is difficult and so is letting go. But the sooner you embrace change and learn to let go, the sooner you can heal, reclaim yourself and begin your new life. Here are 9 steps to help you:
Mourn the loss - It is important to allow the full range of emotions to be felt (anger, sadness, relief, joy).
Remember why you fell in love, the qualities you found admirable in your spouse and the happy memories in your home - It will help dissipate your anger and make it easier to heal and forgive.
Tell family and friends - Speaking about it makes it real and allows you to grieve.
Forgive your spouse and yourself - Forgiveness is powerful. It puts the control back in your hands.
Stop trying to hurt your spouse - It keeps you stuck and makes you forfeit control of your life.
Mentally say goodbye - Saying goodbye offers you closure and gives you permission to move on.
Stop taking responsibility for your spouse and start taking responsibility for yourself - You are not responsible for what your spouse does or needs. You are responsible for what you do and you needs.
Be proactive not reactive - Participate in your divorce. Be vocal and clear. Tell your attorney what you want and need for a resolution. If possible, speak to your ex about it as well.
Set specific, short term, attainable goals with deadlines - Setting goals helps you to focus and achieve what you want. When you are surrounded by darkness, knowing there is a light to guide you makes a world of difference. Attaining the goals will build your confidence and help you move forward.
Moving is big change under any circumstance. Moving to a new home during or after a divorce can release a range of feelings from daunting to exciting. Prepare yourself emotionally by acknowledging that you will feel various emotions at different moments. And know that this okay and normal when transitioning. Your space is important as it reflects who are while impacting how you feel.(Read my article ‘Does Your Mental Space Match Your Physical Space’). The following are ways you can reestablish yourself in your new space:
Let go of the past – Remind yourself that you are starting a new chapter in your life and to do so you need a fresh, new space.
Embrace the change – Change is good. It allows for growth and new experiences to enter your life.
Focus on the positive – Stop feeling resentment about what you feel you gave up and start being grateful for the new opportunities that are coming your way.
Make the space your own – Decorate your new home to reflect you and your individual tastes. Create a sanctuary for yourself that makes you happy to come home to each day.
Make it familiar and new – It’s okay to hold on to familiar pieces that bring you joy and comfort. Just lace them with a few new things to mark a new beginning.
Don’t mark it only as a temporary space – Even if it just temporary, unpack and add touches that define it as yours. If you don’t, it will leave you feeling stuck and regretful.
Budget – Divorce is expensive. Be realistic about what you can afford. Detail and budget your expenses for the next 6 to 12 months.
Getting through a divorce can be painful. But with the right tools and support, you can maintain your personal integrity, establish and retain a sense of self, and move on to the next stage in life empowered and confident.
Christa Zamel is a certified personal lifestyle coach. Her style of coaching is not simply about talking, it's about living. It's tying verbal, spatial, and emotional threads together into one body so that inner and outer selves mirror each other.