Getting Through Your Divorce
With more than one million divorces in the United States annually, splitting up seems so commonplace… so routine. That is, until it happens to you. Getting divorced is a traumatic, life-altering event has a way of shaking us to the core, causing us to question both our relationships and our self-worth.
While you may not find it comforting, the fact is that you’re not the only one getting divorced: There will be roughly 999,999 other divorces occurring around you this year. Though the per-capita divorce rate is at its lowest since 1970, it still averages about 45%. But you, yourself, are more than just an anonymous, unfortunate statistic. You are a breathing being in emotional turmoil. So where do you begin to get divorce help?
Perhaps the most important action is not to beat yourself up over getting divorced. Viewing yourself as a failure is self-destructive and will not help your situation. Robert Emery, Ph.D., author of The Truth about Children and Divorce: Dealing with the Emotions So You and Your Children Can Thrive, says, “Even if you failed at your marriage, you can succeed at divorce.” By taking some steps to protect you and your children—financially and emotionally—you’ll succeed during the first 30 days of getting divorced and beyond.
Coping While Getting Divorced
Shock. Denial. Anger. Resentment. Fear. These are just a few of the emotions you’re likely to experience as you're getting divorced. Don’t deny yourself these feelings; accept them and work to overcome them. If you’re the talkative type, bare your soul to a friend, family member or therapist. If you’re uncomfortable sharing these feelings with others, keep a journal. Finding an outlet for these emotions is an important part of the healing process.
Laura Lebenkoff knows firsthand that getting divorced can knock you for a loop, having experienced her own failed marriage. As a licensed clinical social worker, she helps individuals, children, adolescents and couples deal with the various stages of divorce. Lebenkoff says that many people go through an “emotional divorce” first, over many years, before actually separating or divorcing. They become, over time, less invested in the relationship.
You often go through a whole range of feelings—bouncing from anger to guilt to anxiety to hope throughout the course of the day. The key, she says, is to embrace those feelings. “Look at it as an opportunity to change,” she says optimistically. “Change is a part of life.”
Dan Cantor of East Brunswick, NJ, is twice divorced and says his emotions were completely different each time. “My first wife,” he says wistfully, “I was madly in love with her. When we split up, that was definitely the lowest point of my life. I was emotionally crushed.”
Dan immersed himself in a new hobby, a healthy approach to dealing with getting divorced. He started to go dancing, which provided him a social outlet. Ironically, he met his second wife through dancing. “The second time,” he says, “the marriage was bad for a long time.” After eight months of counseling, he says he knew it was over. “So I had already grieved.”