Even at the best of times, divorces are highly painful and stressful experiences. Here are five things you can expect during the start of the process.
It Won’t Be Easy
Whether the split with your partner was relatively amicable, all divorces come with some degree of stress, whether it be emotional, psychological or even financial – or a combination of all three. Divorce is difficult at the best of times, so prepare yourself for a rollercoaster ride of emotional highs and lows. Surround yourself with good friends, and try to keep yourself busy so that you can cope with your divorce in positive and constructive ways. While you may need to take some time for yourself away from family and friends, it’s important that you stay connected to your support networks, as feelings of loneliness and isolation are typically high in the initial stages of the divorce process.
Expect the Unexpected
When it comes to divorce, it’s hard to know what to expect. You may see a side of your ex-partner you’ve never seen (or wanted to see) before, and vice-versa. People react to divorce in very different ways, so let yourself feel the full spectrum of your emotions (though use your intellect to decide on which emotions to act on). You’ll also need to recognize – and accept – that many things will be out of your control. For example, if you’re involved in a high conflict divorce, the family courts may not decide on a favorable outcome for you, or they may make decisions you didn’t foresee.
You will also likely experience various and conflicting emotions, ranging from relief to grief to excitement to regret to sadness and anger to contentment. Experiencing a range of emotions and thoughts is very common, so don’t beat yourself up for not feeling “ok” after or during your divorce.
Your Children Will Be Affected
If you have children, it’s important to recognize that they will also feel the impact of the divorce, perhaps in surprising ways. Keep open lines of communication with your children. If you are involved in a custody battle as part of your divorce, respect the rules of the court as per visitation rights, etc., but also try to keep the children as far away possible from any interpersonal conflicts between you and your ex-spouse. Your children will no doubt be affected by your divorce, but you can help minimize some of the negative impact.
Your Attorney is There to Help
Your attorney specializes in divorce proceedings. That means that he or she has experience and expertise working with clients who are going through the divorce process. Listen to your attorney’s advice. Your attorney will help you navigate the legal and financial quagmires that so often accompany divorces. If you continue to disregard your attorney’s advice, however, he/she can’t help you.
You’ll Make Mistakes…and it’s Okay
You are going to make mistakes, one way or another, and it’s okay. Divorces often leave people feeling angry, confused, and hurt. You may make mistakes in the parenting or dating realms, or perhaps you will make poor financial decisions. Some mistakes obviously have higher consequences than others, so it’s important to sound some of your decisions off of people you trust: your close friends, your family members, your therapist or attorney. Don’t be afraid to ask for help during the divorce process.