Statistics show that nearly half of marriages result in a divorce. Whilst there is clearly a question here about why the numbers of marriages ending is so high, the fact is, they do. So this article isn’t focused on ways to improve a marriage, it is designed to help you deal with divorce from an emotional perspective…
About 100,000 people go through divorce every year in the UK. In most cases this doesn’t just affect the couple who are separating, but can affect the wider family too, such as children, parents and also friends.
The process of a divorce is usually focused on how to arrange finances, houses, co-parenting children and lots of other logistical matters. However, two often overlooked aspects that you should consider are:
- How you emotionally separate from someone as healthily as possible, and;
- How you care for yourself during the process.
Let’s take a look in more detail at these…
What Is a Good Divorce (or separating healthily)?
This might seem like a strange idea, but it’s incredibly important to put some thought and energy into the best ways to move from being in a romantic relationship with someone, to possibly having a different type of relationship with them. Whilst divorce means a complete separation for some couples, increasingly this isn’t the case, as children (and sometimes even assets) are shared moving forward. In order to do things well in future, it requires some type of reasonable relationship to be in place.
For this reason it’s important to try, even if it’s difficult, to invest in having a quality separation which allows you to move from a romanic relationship, to an acquaintance-type relationship with mutual respect and support. Whilst this can be a hard ask in the middle of arguments and difficult conversations (which usually involve lawyers), it’s something that is often necessary. After all, why make the process any harder than it needs to be, especially when it could make your future life after the divorce more difficult too?
Three principles to try and follow are:
- Talk In ‘I’ Statements – It can often be tempting to accuse your ex-partner of behaving badly, or to try and throw at emotional ‘stones’ at them. Try to resist this urge. By doing this, you’re only likely to invite attacks to be made back at you. Whilst this can sometimes be satisfying in the moment, it often worsens the picture for you both over the long term. By aiming to talk about ‘I’ rather than ‘You’ it can often help to reduce this problem. This makes sense, because it’s far less confrontational being told ‘I feel uncomfortable when XYZ happens…’ compared with ‘You always screw things up!’
- Set Ground Rules – In order to have a good separation it’s important to have rules that you can both follow. By having clearly defined acceptable/unacceptable behaviours it can help both partners to feel safe again in having conversations with the other. This is particularly important if there has already been some type of trust break down in the relationship already. Think about when, where, and who-with for certain types of conversations. Also, when will you both call ‘time’ and pause a conversation for some time in the future?
- Focus On The Destination – Be clear with each other about ‘what is the best’ that can be achieved with both the divorce and the emotions that both of you are experiencing currently. Whilst divorce and separation are usually painful processes, there is no need to make them harder still. Why not have a conversation about ‘what’s the best we can achieve here?’ Sometimes a course of mediation is a good idea to help with this. Good relationship Therapists will also be able to help you towards a healthy separation, even if your first session is focused on telling the Therapist that you want help in ending the relationship.
Caring For Yourself During Divorce…
This is incredibly important. If you’re in the position of going through a divorce, it’s likely that things haven’t been right in your relationship or life for some time. Having a divorce on top of this can add further stress – even if it’s the best route to take.
With this in mind, think about the following ideas to look after your own emotional wellbeing during a divorce situation:
- Follow A ‘Normal Routine’ (as much as possible) – This can be tough, especially if you are moving house, job, or having less (or more) contact with your children. Routine and stability can be incredibly important psychologically, so why not take a look at your diary from 6 months ago, and see how closely you can replicate it now? This might give you some ideas of how you lived your life before, and the ways in which you can keep things the same during a time of change.
- Draw On Other, Non-Romantic, Relationships – Social support is often part of the antidote to a wide range of emotional issues. Make sure you beef-up friendships and relationships with other important people in your life during a divorce. As well as providing a distraction, they are also important in helping you stay connected with other care and ‘support-givers’ in your life. People will often understand if you’re stressed, and won’t mind if you’re not quite ‘yourself.’
- Look After your Mind and Body – This goes without saying. A divorce is a great opportunity to focus on yourself and making an investment in your wellbeing. Why not do all of those nurturing things that you’ve been putting off for some time. For example, getting an exercise plan together? Keep track on your diet too, remember a healthy body makes it easier to have a clear and healthy mind. It’s also a good idea to watch out for mental health problems such as Depression or Anxiety Problems which can develop during difficult life situations.
Hopefully these ideas will get you thinking about what you can do to deal with a divorce in the best way possible. They’re not the full story though, as everyone is different and every relationship ending is different too.
If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to get professional help to see you through a difficult time. Our team of expert Therapists can offer immediate appointments either at our Therapy Clinics in the UK – or Online. Get in touch today to find out how we can help.