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Moving Through the Crisis of Divorce:
What You Need to Know and Do

© 2023 Elinor Robin, PhD, LMHC, LMFT

Divorce may be the greatest crisis of your adult life.

 

The worst thing about divorce is that it forces us to look at ourselves, our lives, and our choices, and assess where we are and where we want to go. On the other hand, the best thing about divorce is that it forces us to look at ourselves, our lives, and our choices, and assess where we are and where we want to go.

 

The transition of divorce is complicated as it involves restructuring and rebuilding psychological, social, financial, logistical, physical, and legal aspects of life. The losses that one encounters during divorce often trigger childhood insecurities; leaving an adult with a diminished emotional capacity and a tendency to act-out repressed emotions and adolescent sexuality. There are things you can do to help as you move through the

upset of divorce. As I see it, strategies for getting though the crisis of divorce and onto the next phase of life (where you rebuild your life) fall into two categories – action strategies and attitude strategies. You can speed your divorce recovery along by following these steps.

 

Action Strategies

1. Create a concrete plan of action. List your personal resources and how you will use those resources during the next month, six months, and year ahead.

2. Create a strong support system by inviting quality people to join in your inner circle. Your support system should include family members, old friends, and new friends as well as professional support from a therapist or divorce coach. Consider joining or starting a support group or meet-up. Find other singles that share a common interest – even if you have to organize an event or special project yourself. Connect with your neighbors and members of your community. Make time for sharing breakfast, a movie, or a potluck meal. Some time to yourself is fine but it is critical that you avoid isolation and feeling alone.

 

3. Become an activist. Make a difference. Get involved with a cause that is bigger than your personal problems.

 

4. Meditate and breathe. When we are anxious we tend to hold our breath. Using a breathing meditation allows us to take in more oxygen. And, more oxygen allows us to think more clearly.

5. Explore local resources. Act like a tourist, but the goal is to become an expert on what your city has to offer. Find free or inexpensive activities in your community. Take a walk. Visit the park, beach, museum, and public library.

 

6. Find creative ways to access the goods and services you need. Barter. Recycle. Negotiate. Create.

 

7. Clean-out the clutter and get rid of unnecessary reminders of your Ex. When your physical space is disorganized it produces a negative reflection. When you clean up your house you are honoring your home – the temple of your soul. Getting rid of “stuff” is one way to make room for the new person.

8. Live within your means and clean-up your credit. In most cases, one income will not support your previous life style. Cut down to reduce financial pressures. And, enlist professional assistance or the aid of a friend who knows how to create a budget.

 

9. Adopt. Rescue a pet from a shelter and receive unconditional love and companionship in return.

 

Attitude Strategies

1. Accept the end of your marriage.  Remember that next year will be different, next year you will be different, and everything is temporary.

 

2. Start the morning with a positive affirmation.

 

3. Make a gratitude list and focus on the ways that the glass of your life is half (or more) full. Concentrate on the good – the things that give you joy in life.

 

4. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate. Create new celebratory rituals to enjoy this year and in the years to come.

 

5. Avoid comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides. When you think of yourself as the victim you further feed the negative emotions. Each life has high and low points. Half of the adult population will be divorced and for most of us that is a low point. So when you look around and everyone else seems happy remember that you are not the only one who has had to live through a failed marriage.

6. Understand that crisis is an opportunity to shift gears. Don’t dwell on your losses; mourn them, and let them go.  Use the transition of divorce as a time of assessment. Figure out what mistakes you made in the relationship and how you will avoid these mistakes in the future. A therapist, divorce coach, or support group can help in this endeavor.

7. Accept those around you as they are. Focus instead on what can be changed in you and your attitudes.

 

8. Call a truce with your Ex. Especially if you have children, let him/her know that you want to find solutions that work for both of you. It’s hard to argue with someone who says “I want to find solutions that work for you and for me.”

 

9. Give yourself time. Don’t rush into the next relationship because you are lonely or feel rejected. The longer you wait the better your chances of success. It’s OK to look (be a shopper) but don’t buy too fast.

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