Getting through a divorce is hard, and figuring out how to handle the first few months after you file for divorce can be just as difficult. It is normal for people to feel lost, and overwhelmed by a cascade of conflicting emotions. There are a lot of decisions that need to be made, but most people have a difficult time focusing in order to make them. However, there are some ways that you can not only survive but also thrive during this transition time.
Solidify Your Support System
It is only human to want to hide the struggles we face from those around us, but it is rarely the healthiest route to overcoming the emotional turmoil caused by divorce. You need a place to vent, and someone to spend time with when being alone seems too painful. Identifying the family members and friends who will serve as your support group as early as possible is key.
Do not forget that your children will also need this type of support system. Encouraging them to talk about their feelings both with you and with other trusted adults will help them cope with the immense emotions they may be experiencing. Of course, you should avoid using your children to help you manage your emotional health during this time. Being their support system may help you as well by taking your mind off your problems and focusing on theirs.
Consider Seeking Outside Help
In some cases, you may feel like you are burdening your family or friends with your emotions or you may be hesitant to share things because of things they are facing in their own lives. Alternatively, perhaps you have recognized the signs of depression in yourself, or are tempted by self-destructive behaviors. When this occurs, seeking outside support is often the best bet.
Your mental health is paramount during a divorce. A therapist who specializes in individual counseling after a divorce can offer both a good place to vent your emotions and treatment if you need help with depression or other mental health concerns.
If counseling is not your speed, a divorce recovery support group may be a better option. Most cities and many smaller towns have support groups for those facing divorce. They often meet at the local hospital or a church in the community. Some groups also offer a private arena to discuss your divorce and recovery online.
Revive Your Old Hobbies
Over the course of a marriage, most people lose sight of some of the things they loved to do when they were single. Getting back into those hobbies is an essential part of rediscovering who you are as an individual. If you used to enjoy kayaking, seek out a local outdoor adventures group or look into kayak rental options in your area. Chances are good that you will still enjoy the same things that you did before you were married.
Not only are hobbies good for helping you get in touch with yourself as an individual, they also occupy your mind and keep you from thinking too much about the past or worrying too much about the future. It is easier to clear your mind while you are paddling through rapids than while you are sitting at home. Even just going to see a movie can take your mind off your divorce.
If you would rather start a new hobby or take a class in something you have always wanted to learn, go for it! You can check with your local community college to see if they offer any courses in subjects that interest you, or learn a new skill online. The key is to take time for yourself, and relearn what you enjoy doing.
Focus on Your Health
One potential pitfall of divorce is that people often engage in unhealthy behaviors in order to quell the pain. Some people drink more than they normally would, and many eat comfort foods high in fat and low in nutrition. A better way to manage these feelings would be to funnel them into a plan that will allow you to maintain or improve your health.
Cooking new recipes, joining a gym, or trying out a new aerobics class will both occupy your mind and provide a much-needed boost to your self-esteem. You may even want to round up some friends and sign up for a boot camp at your neighborhood gym, or join a local hiking, biking, or swimming group.
Do Not Forget Your Finances
With so much of your financial past being poured over in mediation or by your lawyers, and with your financial future uncertain, it is more important than ever before to pay attention to your finances while going through a divorce. It is easy to make financial mistakes.You might be tempted to spend money on new clothes or luxury items to make yourself feel better, but your financial focus should be on making and sticking to a budget.
There are also other factors to consider. You have probably recently opened your own bank account, and may have even moved credit cards or other financial products into your own name. Be careful during this process that you are not moving too much money between accounts. While it is most likely being done innocently, it may not appear that way to your ex or the court. If possible, wait until the property division phase of the divorce to transfer funds from joint accounts to individual ones.
Work Closely With Your Lawyer
Even if you and your ex are aiming for a settlement through mediation, it is not a good idea to finalize your divorce without talking through your options with an attorney. With all of the emotions swirling around during a divorce, it can be difficult to prioritize and you may accept offers from your ex that you will live to regret. You also should not rely on your former spouse’s attorney to offer a fair and just division of property and other assets.
Consulting with your own attorney is paramount, no matter the level of animosity between you and your ex. A Washington divorce lawyer will work with you to identify and appraise any assets, address issues of child custody and support, and explore your options for alimony.
At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, we specialize in helping people thrive both during and after a divorce. Whether you are planning to file, need some advice during mediation, or are looking for someone to represent you in court, we can help. Contact us today at 425-460-0550 to schedule an appointment.