10 Lessons I Learned From My Divorce (So You Won’t Have To)
No one gets married thinking that divorce is just around the corner. Whatever the reasons for a divorce, whether it was your choice or not, it always takes a huge toll emotionally and financially.
So what do you do when you feel lost, alone, frustrated and desperate to feel normal again? The truth of the matter is that it’s different for everyone, but there are some universal truths that can help you get through this chapter of your life, no matter your circumstances.
Here are 10 lessons learned from divorce shared by ladies who have gone through it and by divorce professionals.
1. Recovery takes time.
Depending on the reason for your divorce, the finality may either make you feel like it’s Christmas morning or the absolute end of the world. One thing to consider, though, is the feeling of vulnerability you’ll have until you’ve fully recovered. Surprisingly, in many cases the person hardest hit can often be the person who initiated the divorce itself. Seeing someone else suffer and knowing that you caused that pain can be a very heavy weight to take. Whatever your circumstances, you need to realize that the emotional stress associated with a breakup or divorce needs time to run it’s course. There are no short cuts with heartache and acceptance of this is key.
It is perfectly OK to seek help and it is perfectly OK to feel down, even if you’re the one who initiated the process.
2. Manage your future living expenses right NOW.
Getting divorced can make you emotional and cause you to make poor decisions that you’ll regret later. Now is not the time to blow off some stress by buying a closet full of shoes or buying that dream car your spouse never let you have. Remember that time will take care of sore feelings but your financial decisions will affect you longer. Speaking with a financial advisor can play an important role in minimizing your current and future stress levels. They can assist you in knowing how much you need so you can make necessary adjustments and plans before it’s too late.
3. Be ready for unexpected costs.
It would be best to ask or request for some funds before your first alimony check arrives. If you don’t need alimony, that’s also fine, but know that there are probably some matters that were usually shouldered by your ex which you’ll have to pay for now. Don’t be sticker shocked when taking over the household utilities and even property taxes. If you have young children, you may want to prepare for a possible child custody battle even if things are currently going well between you and your ex. Lawyer bills can pile up quickly and if things get complicated and messy in this process, you need to make sure that you are fully prepared.
4. You’ll get nothing from trying to hurt your ex.
This should really be number 1! Remember that every action now has a consequence in the future. Sure, you can get your ex fired by ratting him out to his boss, but that will also mean he won’t have the same financial capabilities and will affect whatever support he can provide to you and your children. Also, according to Newton’s Third Law, “Every action has an exact and opposite reaction”. Don’t be surprised if you throw an egg at your ex’s new house and you find your car keyed the next day! Remember the best revenge you can ever have is to successfully move on.
Saying hurtful things online can also backfire when your kids are old enough to read what you shared about their father.
5. Choose your experts wisely.
Whether you have children or not, lawyers specializing in family law are your best bet to get the fairest settlement possible. If money is no option, then securing the best family lawyer available can be key. Not all things are created equal, and this is definitely true when dealing with seasoned and experienced counsel. You may also want to look into hiring a financial planner if you have a lot of combined assets with your husband.
6. Divorce doesn’t define you.
Just because you’re divorced does not mean that you’re a failure or that you’re not desirable. Most likely it’s because you grew apart or your ex just became a total jerk! Stigmas do persist these days but keep in mind that a divorce just means that the relationship did not work out or love has simply died. Just because you don’t find love with one person anymore doesn’t mean that the greatest love you’ll ever experience isn’t right around the corner. Keep your head up, you just might find who you’re looking for!
7. Your kids will always be affected by divorce.
Yes, even when they act like nothing happened. Research shows that kids often feel responsible when their parents go through a divorce. They may not say it, but there will be tell-tale behavioral signs that you can watch out for. The top five signs are as follows: 1.) Sadness and crying (pretty obvious!) 2.) Worrying and feeling afraid. 3.) Withdrawing socially and losing interest in activities they once loved. 4.) Acting out and arguing 5.) A decline in their performance at school. If your child is suffering from the emotional toll, this can quickly transfer over to your own emotional turmoil. Seeking professional help immediately can change the future path for both of you.
8. The holidays will be a hard time for you.
Feelings of loneliness are felt more during the holidays, and this doesn’t exempt those who are divorced. It would be best to plan a vacation or be with loved ones instead of being alone around the holidays. If you have children, make sure to create a holiday schedule that works for both of you well in advance. The holidays are stressful enough without having to deal with your ex at the last minute.
9. Joint accounts need your attention, too.
Don’t go into court without being fully informed about your joint accounts. You have to know online passwords, account pins, email verification, any investments and who is handling your account(s) if using a professional IMMEDIATELY. This will save you from both future headaches and heartache once the divorce is in process. If you feel that your ex is hiding money or is not being entirely truthful about their finances, hiring a private investigator to look into this for you is often the best option. The kick in the heart you take during a divorce is hard enough. No one need a punch to the wallet.
10. Divorce can be empowering.
Divorce shouldn’t be viewed as the end of a book, but rather the beginning of a whole new chapter. There are a lot of opportunities for new beginnings after divorce. Wherever life may lead you, just know that you will always have a choice.
With everything said, there is no doubt that going through a divorce can be a scary time for anyone. Though it’s true that uncertainties are everywhere, the answers and help that you seek might be just a phone call away.
And remember no matter how dark and how tough the time is right now to hold on and move forward. As Winston Churchill once wisely said “If you’re going through hell. Keep going!”