“This is not what I expected.”
“We have nothing in common.”
“We’re always arguing.”
“I want out!”
The run-down house shows signs of neglect. Over the years, it has weathered many storms, not all of them successfully. Now the structure is fragile, and the collapse of the house seems imminent.
Sadly, that picture describes the state of many marriages today.
The proliferation of loveless marriages is perhaps not surprising. Marriage is a complex human relationship, and many enter it with little preparation.
“We are required to demonstrate some proficiency when obtaining a driver’s license, but marriage licenses can be had for a signature.” — Dr. Dean S. Edell
It's been said that much of life’s happiness and much of its misery emanate from the same source — one’s marriage. Few things in life have the potential to provide as much ecstasy — or as much anguish.
Even if ending your marriage is the right choice, the truth is that divorce is hard for everyone. Psychologists have classified divorce as one of the most stressful experiences anyone can face.
You might believe that you’ll never be happy again. While this might feel real at the moment, it’s up to you how the rest of your life progresses.
I watched two siblings endure messy divorces and then rebuild their lives and find joy again. My family members and I were there to support as best we could every step of the way. We witnessed tears and suffering. We witnessed innocent children adversely affected. But we also got to witness shining light at the end of the tunnel.
My wife, a mother to two beautiful children, also endured an arduous divorce. I wasn’t there to see how it all played out, but I’ve heard and learned so much about the entire ordeal. To this day, I’ve witnessed the explicitly visible and damaging effects of divorce, especially where children are concerned. But, again, we’ve been blessed to witness that shining light and resurrected joy in a rebuilt life for the better.
Managing a divorce is a process. The process can be overwhelming. But, it need not be, if you’re able to make your decisions with focus, hope and confidence.
A divorce can be a new beginning for a life that’s more fulﬁlling.
You might be on the cusp of a more meaningful and enjoyable existence.
Can you really survive your divorce and live joyfully again?
Absolutely…Read on and learn how…
“I used to think that divorce meant failure, but now I see it more as a step along the path of self-realization and growth.” — Alana Stewart
Surviving A Divorce
The ﬁrst step to moving on with your life is surviving the divorce process itself.
If you’ve made the decision to get divorced, you’re likely feeling a combination of relief and fear. If your partner made the decision, you might be feeling betrayed or unwanted.
These feelings can be overwhelming, but they do eventually pass.
Keeping this in mind will make the process easier.
Knowing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel can keep you sane.
While all divorces are unique, there are certain people that manage the divorce process more successfully than others.
These personality traits can help you survive divorce:
One thing that greatly beneﬁts anyone going through a divorce is a positive attitude about the future. The belief that everything will turn out okay in the end is very powerful.
Resilience is always a positive trait to possess, but it can be especially helpful during divorce. The ability to weather any situation that occurs during and after the divorce process is golden. Resilience is affected by optimism and the ability to relax. If you’re pessimistic, your resilience will falter.
You’ll experience a variety of new challenges during and after divorce. New problems require new solutions. Those that are able to think creatively have an advantage. Brainstorm solutions to your challenges.
(#) Cool under pressure.
You’re likely to experience more stress than you’ve ever had to deal with before. Look into ways that lower the amount of stress you feel in your life. Meditation, progressive relaxation, and visualization are just some of the many tools available.
Meeting with your attorney, packing, looking for a place to live, moving, and all the other things that can go along with divorce take time — time you probably don’t have to spare. With all these new demands, you’re going to need all the help you can get. Some people like to take care of everything themselves, but the ability to delegate can ease the divorce process.
If there was ever a time that would tax your multitasking skills, a divorce proceeding is that time. Between meetings, paperwork, deadlines, and appointments, it’s enough to challenge even the most organized person. One of the greatest predictors of success is conscientiousness —and conscientious people are organized.
How many of these traits do you have?
All of these traits are skills that you can learn.
Practicing these skills will help, but other tips will help too.
Consider these general tips for surviving a divorce:
(#) Take a deep breath and hold on.
You already know it’s going to be a bumpy ride, but it might not be nearly as challenging as you anticipate. It’s important to try to relax as much as possible, handle your business, and persevere.
(#) Maintain your social connections.
Some people choose to withdraw when stressed — this is a huge mistake. Isolating yourself will magnify your negative feelings and leave you feeling lonely and alone. You need your friends and family more than ever — lean on them.
(#) Have fun.
Divorce isn’t fun, but there’s no law that says you can’t enjoy yourself. Get out of the house. Spend time with your friends and do the things you enjoy. Life doesn’t have to stop just because you’re getting divorced.
(#) Visualize a positive future.
If you want to make yourself miserable, expect to have a horrible future. On the other hand, imagining a positive future that appeals to you will help you feel happier.
(#) Maintain your grooming.
One of the major signs that someone’s mental health is going off the rails is a signiﬁcant decrease in grooming standards. Maintain your grooming routine. It’ll help you to feel more normal and grounded. Once your grooming slides, other things begin to slide too.
(#) Maintain your sleep schedule.
Do you best to stay on track with your sleep. It can be easy to worry yourself late into the night or to spend a Saturday in bed. However, neither is a good idea.
Relax as much as you can and hold on tight.
Maintain your friendships and continue to take care of yourself.
How To Survive The Workday During A Divorce
Most of us don’t have the luxury of just sitting at home during a divorce. We still have to make a living.
Work can provide a sanctuary of sorts. You can get your mind off your relationship woes.
But it can also be a challenge. It’s not always easy to focus when your personal life is in turmoil. You also have to deal with the inevitable questions that always come with a divorce.
Surviving your workday is part of surviving divorce, so use these strategies:
(#) Consider how much and with whom you’re going to share your divorce news.
Do you just want to get the information out there or would you prefer to keep your head down? Both options have advantages and disadvantages. Take some time to think about it.
(#) Only do work at work.
Keep your focus on your work. It can be tempting to use your work time to read emails from your lawyer or go over divorce-related paperwork, but this can make things worse. You’ll not only be distracted from your regular work, but you might also be putting your job in jeopardy.
(#) Tell your boss.
Let your boss know what’s going on. You’re sure to get a little slack and some consideration when there’s extra work to be doled out. Your boss will appreciate the heads up and be more accommodating if you need time off or need to leave early.
(#) Have your story prepared.
Even if you try to keep your divorce a secret, it won’t stay that way. You’ll eventually receive questions, sympathy, or offers for support in one form or another. How will you handle this? Have a story ready. Some people will want to know what happened. Others will offer to help you with your kids or to perform errands. Some will share their own experiences or offer advice.
Don’t be afraid to accept a few offers for assistance. There will be times you’ll need a babysitter or a shoulder to cry on.
It’s a mistake to refuse help that’s offered to you. You’d be happy to help someone else, so allow others to help you.
Finances During A Divorce
Divorce is stressful. Financial challenges are stressful. Combining the two is enough to keep anyone up at night!
Your attorney will be your best source of information regarding your ﬁnances during the divorce. Ensure you get advice from a qualiﬁed source and use it.
Take your ﬁnances seriously during your divorce with these clever strategies:
(#) Only take advice from experts.
Divorce attorneys have professional education and years of experience doing little more than dealing with divorces. It doesn’t make sense to get advice from non-experts. Take care of yourself by getting the best help you can.
(#) Understand your budget.
It’s important to understand your expenses for the present and the future. In many relationships, one spouse handles all of the ﬁnancial matters. You might not have the slightest idea what it costs to live at your current standard of living. You might be in for quite a shock. This information can be useful for future planning.
(#) Avoid major ﬁnancial decisions.
It’s not a good time to take on large ﬁnancial obligations. Your ability to make sound decisions is compromised when you’re stressed. Proceed carefully.
(#) Keep track of your credit report.
This is especially important if you have any joint debts or credit cards. Your spouse might suddenly decide that paying the mortgage on the house isn’t a priority anymore. This could damage your credit.
(#) Open an individual bank account and credit card.
Get these in place as soon as possible. The credit card can be used for any expenses and to build your credit. These items might be more challenging to accomplish after your divorce is ﬁnalized.
Your attorney is likely to have a lot of additional advice. Be sure to follow it to the letter.
Money issues can be stressful, so give this topic the attention it deserves.
It’ll be much easier to move on with your life if your ﬁnancial house is in order.
Children And Divorce
It’s always challenging to explain divorce to children. How you handle this important issue will largely depend on the age of the children. Explaining the situation to a 5-year old is different than explaining it to a 15-year old. You’ll need to adjust your approach depending on the child’s characteristics.
Of course, it’ll be a difﬁcult time for any child. However, there are many things you can do to ease the transition for the little ones in your life.
Use these techniques to make the best of a bad situation with your children:
(#) Resist the urge to address the issue with your children without your spouse present.
While the relationship with your spouse might be adversarial, it’ll be beneﬁcial for your children if you present a united front. Get together and talk to your children about the changes that are coming.
(#) Choose a good time to talk.
Right before your child’s baseball game wouldn’t be an ideal time. Choose a time when there’s nothing going on afterwards. Everyone will need some quiet time to process the news.
(#) Anticipate questions.
Teenage children are likely to have questions about staying at the same school. Younger children will be worried about the living arrangements. Try to anticipate the questions your children will ask and work out the answers with your spouse beforehand.
(#) Ensure that the children know that the divorce has nothing to do with them.
Children often feel guilty in divorce situations. Ensure they understand that sometimes adults decide they don’t want to stay together. This has nothing to do with the behavior of the children.
(#) Be ready for tears.
In fact, be ready for any reaction from sadness, to anger, to feigned indifference. Continue to reassure them.
(#) Contact their teacher.
Let your child’s teacher know about the situation. A younger child is likely to have some issues at school. A little extra compassion might be needed when dealing with any issues at school.
(#) Explain the plan going forward.
Present a general outline of what their lives will look like in the days and months ahead. Let them know what will stay the same and what will change.
(#) Be extra kind to your spouse.
It’ll help your children a lot if you and your spouse are especially nice to each other going forward. Let the children see that they’re not going to be in the middle of a war for the rest of their lives.
Children can be particularly affected by divorce, but also possess amazing resilience.
Your children will greatly beneﬁt if you and your spouse can remain civil before, during, and after the divorce process. Be open with your children and tolerant of unusual behavior.
After The Divorce
The divorce is over, but the work isn’t done quite yet. Now it’s time to rebuild your life. This is a great opportunity to make changes and improvements. Everything is up in the air at this point, so make the most of the possibilities.
General tips for dealing with life after divorce:
You survived what was probably the most challenging situation of your life. Expect the majority of your life to be easy, relatively speaking, by comparison. Surviving a divorce can give you the conﬁdence to conquer other obstacles.
(#) Stay in touch with your current friends.
It’s natural that you may lose some friends. Some of your pre-divorce friends may have been closer to your spouse than they were to you.This doesn’t mean that you have to lose all of your friends. Maintain as many of your good relationships as you can.
(#) Drop some dead weight.
It’s the perfect time to cut out the undesirable activities and people from your life. We all accumulate people and activities that drain our spirit, patience, or bank account without a reasonable return on our investment. Where possible, let these things and people go.
(#) Join a community.
You might consider yourself an introvert, but you have a need to be part of a community. There are many types of communities you can join — religious, spiritual, sports teams, women’s clubs, etc. Find a group of people with whom you have similar interests and participate. You’ll feel better and more secure.
(#) Forgive your ex.
You might be totally justiﬁed in the seething hatred you feel toward your ex — but you’re only making yourself miserable. Forgiving your ex will set you free.
(#) Forgive yourself.
No one is without blame in a divorce. You probably believe that you made your share of mistakes too. But everyone makes mistakes. The best you can do is to learn from your mistakes and forgive yourself.
Getting divorced is the ﬁrst step on your new journey.
Now it’s important to survive the aftermath and create a life you can enjoy going forward.
Finding Joy Again
What exactly is joy? It’s a combination of fun or pleasure and happiness. It’s possible to have fun in the moment, yet not be happy. It’s also possible to be happy without having a lot of pleasure or fun.
Joy means you have both in your life.
People have been pondering what it takes to be happy for thousands of years.
It’s easy to see that different people have differing beliefs on what creates happiness. There’s no end to the theories surrounding happiness.
Most psychologists, however, believe that the primary drive of a human is comfort and happiness. People just convince themselves of different paths to reach that goal.
What will it take to make you happy?
There are several things that make happiness more likely to occur, such as:
(#) Sufﬁcient ﬁnancial resources.
There’s no rule that says you can’t be happy and poor, but it does make it more challenging. A smaller income makes it more challenging to pay your bills, buy food and clothes, and enjoy yourself. Studies show that happiness increases with income to around $75,000. More than that doesn’t seem to make people any happier.
(#) Something to look forward to.
Positive anticipation really adds something to our lives. This could be something like a vacation, an upcoming date, or something you’re going to buy for yourself when you attain a specific goal.
(#) Sufﬁcient social circle.
How many people do you need in your life? Some need a lot more than others. Most of us need at least a couple of friends to be happy and content.
(#) Someone to love and someone to love you.
One thing that sets people apart from other creatures is the ability to love and the ability to appreciate love. There are a variety of relationships that can provide this.
(#) A purpose.
Whether your purpose is to write the world’s greatest screenplay, or be the best possible parent, we all need a purpose. It’s up to you to ﬁgure out that purpose.
If you don’t feel good about yourself, how can you be happy? Be a person that you admire. You already know all the things you can’t stand about yourself. It’s necessary to either change them or accept them.
(#) A lack of things that make you miserable.
Happiness isn’t just a collection of certain attributes and situations, it’s the absence of things that detract from happiness. Consider the low-rated parts of your life and do what’s necessary to lift them up.
Happiness is half of joy.
Are you allowing happiness to happen in your life?
Do you have the basics in place, so happiness can grow and ﬂourish?
Remember that the negative things in your life can greatly inhibit the amount of happiness you can experience. Be sure to remove those negative things.
There’s no guaranteed formula for happiness, but you know what you like and don’t like. You also know what you need and don’t need. Those are good places to start.
What is fun? Fun is basically an enjoyable distraction from everyday life and stresses. It’s a pleasant change of pace. It’s an opportunity to laugh and connect with others under enjoyable circumstances.
What’s the difference between happiness and fun? Happiness is a pervasive feeling that you carry throughout the day. Fun is temporary. Those things that are fun will never make you happy, but they are a part of experiencing joy.
Fun can be had quite easily if you allow it to happen. Look around you and notice all the ways you could be enjoying yourself.
Life is short, so avoid taking it too seriously.
Add more fun to your life with these activities:
(#) Spend time learning something that interests you.
It doesn’t have to be academic, but it could be. Learning something new can be a load of fun, as long as you’re interested in the topic. This is about having fun, not furthering your career. Imagine you were forced to become an expert on something strictly for your own entertainment. What would you choose?
(#) Embrace the idea of having fun.
There’s a time to take care of business and a time to let loose and have a good time. Fun should be a priority in your life. Be open to the idea of having fun and you’ll have more of it.
(#) Be spontaneous.
Real fun doesn’t have to be planned a week in advance. Interesting opportunities for fun present themselves all the time. You might be passing by a pub you’ve never seen before, stumble on a festival, or see a large group of people performing yoga in the park. Experience more! Are you open to an invitation to do something fun without any notice?
(#) Make a list of things you enjoy.
You can grab the bull by the horns and make your own fun. Remind yourself of all the things you enjoy doing and make plans to do them. If you have a list, you’ll never be at a loss for what you can do to have fun.
(#) Make a list of things that sound fun to you that you’ve never done.
No one has done everything. There are still plenty of things you probably want to try. Now might be just the time to do them.
Have some fun! When you combine fun with happiness, you’re able to experience joy in your life.
This might feel like a long journey after a divorce, but you might arrive there quicker than you think!
Everyone has the right to experience joy, even you.
Divorce can be incredibly challenging — however, it’s possible to live joyfully again.
The ﬁrst step is to survive the divorce. This includes maintaining your social network, dealing with any ﬁnancial issues, supporting your children, maintaining your productivity at work, and taking care of yourself.
Expert advice is very important during a divorce. Your friends, family, and coworkers might mean well, but it’s important to get help from a professional.
Finding joy again means rebuilding your life.
It’s a wonderful opportunity hidden inside of a great challenge.
You can really use a divorce to build an incredible life.
Joy is a combination of happiness and fun. While fun is enjoyable, it can never lead to happiness. Fun is a part of a well-balanced life and a critical component of joy. Happiness is unique to each person, but there are general ideas you can put to good use.
Divorce can be a new beginning for everyone involved.
Hold on tight and do your best.
You can survive divorce and live joyfully again!