Strap in—it’s going to be a rough ride.
The relationship you have with your spouse is likely the most important connection in your adult life. At one time, not long ago, you were in love and could not imagine a life without them. You may have had children together, even grandchildren! But something shifted and now here you are contemplating or in the midst of a divorce. Hold on, because divorce is not for sissies.
Whether you initiated the split, or your spouse did, whether it was sudden or has been years in the making, this is among the most traumatic and life-changing events you’ll ever experience. Divorce permeates all aspects of our lives: emotionally, psychologically, financially, socially, and physically. I see the impact of separation and divorce on people’s lives every day in my practice as a divorce mediator, financial advocate, and coach.
I know it, too, because I’ve been there. Growing up, I was a child of divorce, and it fundamentally impacted my life. My mom didn’t get the emotional, legal, or financial support she needed after my father left her while pregnant with her fourth child. She never really recovered and that was terribly sad. As for me, it certainly dampened my remaining childhood years and, in some ways, still has adverse effects.
I also divorced the father of my own three young children many years ago now and went through the incredibly painful and expensive process of a litigated divorce. All I knew back then was to pick up the phone and call an attorney. What ensued were years of court battles and what today would amount to about $100,000 in attorney’s fees. I knew there had to be a better way.
Today, I am fully dedicated to assisting individuals and couples through the divorce process in a way that leaves them as unscathed as possible, so that they and their children can move on to build a better future without long-lasting trauma. Be clear, though, divorce is not for sissies and you will need support.
Financially, you may wonder how you’ll ever be able to support yourself and your children, how you’ll be able to afford to retire or live the life you’ve worked so hard for. Will you be able to keep your home? Will you have to get a better-paying job?
As a mom or dad, you will have to adjust to the reality that your children will be sharing their time with the other parent and, potentially, a new partner. I cried my eyes out the first Thanksgiving that my children spent with the father and his family five hours away. As prepared as I thought I was, I was still alone without the ones I loved the most.
You will worry what effect all of this will have on your children, whether young or adult. Don’t kid yourself that the kids seem to be just fine. They aren’t. They need you to be a full-time parent if they are young and empathetic to their changing lives no matter what the age.
Socially, you will lose many friends that you shared as a couple. Some of your friends may treat you differently, be wary of your stories and woes, or feeling awkward when you’re the only single person in a group of couples. As for intimate relationships, will you ever be able to love someone again, and how about dating, how is that going to work?
Emotionally and psychologically, you aren’t going to be yourself for a while. You may feel confused and overwhelmed, question yourself about even the smallest things, be less productive at work or at home, occasionally or often be emotionally volatile, anxious, and/or depressed.
Your health may suffer, too. You may eat or drink too much, skip routine, preventative care, not get enough exercise, and have difficulty sleeping.
All of this is completely normal. Divorce is not for the uninformed and it won’t go away if you put your head in the sand. The question is not whether you need support but what kind and from which sources. It will not all be okay if you just hire the right lawyer.
I am here to tell you: divorce is not for sissies! So, get informed, build your support team, and keep reading this blog—its mission is to give you the information you need and show you the way to making the right decisions for a brighter future for you and the ones you love.