Many step out of loveless marriages, letting it die a natural death. No matter how long the marriage was, it is still a difficult and unexpected life stage.
A lot of customs and concepts have been considered a taboo and therefore were hidden, kept in the dark. Divorce is one such, with the rising rates of divorces it is still being looked upon as an evil force breaking the sacred sacrosanct of marriage; But truth be told, many are trying to step out of loveless or abusive marriages, letting it die a natural death. No matter how long the marriage was, how experienced the person might be, it is still a difficult expected or unexpected life stage.
Some psychologists suggest that after divorce and break-up individuals go through the same stages as Greif and Loss, maybe not in the same order of stages and some might even spend more time in one stage than others. However it goes, everyone grieves in their own way, but it is essential that one does not turn towards alcohol, smoking, and even food as they can aggravate existing conditions. Instead here are 5 coping strategies that can help deal with post divorce- coping:
Here are some coping strategies that can help:
1. Reevaluate self: Shedding
In psychology, a type of therapy called the interpersonal therapy that works with how relationships affects an individual tells that role transitions can lead to a lot of emotional trouble. As it suggests one might initially find it difficult or maybe even relieving as they are coming out of their old roles. A few common lies people tell themselves after divorce include summing up the whole married experience either as good or bad, failing to see the gray areas. The shedding off of the old role includes accepting this fact and that before marriage one could have been a spouse and even a parent, but now there is also the new role of ‘Ex-wife/ husband’. Therefore the initial step is the acceptance that one now has a new role, it can be a fresh start or going back to what they were pursuing before or even pursuing a passion/ a dream once thought as long lost such as trekking, painting.
This mental preparation might be something which one might have to reinforce over and again so as to keep oneself open to exploring, but there is no rush, so moving on is just the last step in your ladder.
2. Support Network
In many blogs, and case reports of experienced divorcees, they tend to search for a shoulder to lean on. Most often, women tend to go for parental support and men towards friends, but whoever it may be, it is important to choose someone or a set of people who will be there. It is also crucial here not to impose the divorce on your mutual friends, that is, it is still okay to have common friends with the ex-spouse and that friends need not pick a side. This support circle often not just helps with expressing one’s emotions with the most comfortable individual(s), but also serves as a transition space where the loneliness that stems from the considered ‘loss’ of the family can happen..
Usually the period of ‘separation’ before a divorce is a chaotic phase where they are surrounded by of legal issues and are in an emotional pandemonium where one might miss out on the experience of being lonely. It is vital to note here that being alone and loneliness are two different dimensions, one can even feel lonely when surrounded by people. The key understanding here is that loneliness stems from within, therefore a deeper understanding of the emotions one might be going through will give a better idea on coping with it.
3. What am I feeling?
This is a question which can push a person down a spiral of introspection or even a meltdown; Mainly because feelings are intense and often recognized or acknowledged during these situations. A post-divorce coping method of taking up a new role begins with the initial blues of being unsure, not being able to label an emotion or even confusion as to which emotion of the mixture predominates. This is common, absolutely normal and can be reflected in thoughts such as ‘I am not sure whether I miss it’. One focal tool which we tend to use is distraction, in the beginning, a very effective tool indeed, but the next baby step is to let oneself feel. The TRUTH steps by writer Tartakovsky can help one feel painful emotions for a constructive wallowing, which are:
- Tell yourself the situation: This involves looking at the facts of the situation, such as ‘The divorce has happened’, ‘I had some valid points for or against this decision’.
- Realize what you are feeling: This can be difficult, but one can search for emotional labels or synonyms to see which label precisely fits the situation and portrays the intensity well, because the words ‘anger’ and ‘rage’ have varied intensities, a few examples would be ‘I am hurt because of…’, ‘I am frustrated..’.
- Uncover self- criticism: This is when one has to catch oneself saying ‘I shouldn’t be feeling this way’ or even ‘I am not weak, I am just making a big deal’, this is one huge hindering block.
- Try to understand yourself: This is where one should be non-judgemental about their feelings, as to not question ‘why’ they are feeling this way, but instead just acknowledge it.
- Have the feeling: Sometimes, people are in a hurry to pass through the emotions, instead of pausing and let the emotion stay for a while can help deepen the understanding, such as letting oneself cry, maybe tear a paper in two.
|Here is a non-exhaustive list of feelings that might help you explore more into how you are feeling:|
4. Ties to the past
After the divorce the remainders of the past will exist, it can be a person or a thing even. Material reminders can be the focal triggers of emotions which one can try to get rid off in the beginning. The more pressing concern can be one’s kids or visiting an Ex for legal purposes or even bumping into at some place. At these times, emotions can be expected to suddenly surface, but what is important is to keep in mind the mutual benefits of the divorce of not living with someone who made one feel ‘unloved’. There should be the understanding that not loving someone anymore does not necessarily mean that hatred is what should remain, there can be a gray area of ‘indifference’ towards the Ex, mixed feelings of anger, but remembering not to blame them for one’s current situation is the point of acceptance that one has to reach, but to go there the previous steps are necessary and ignoring these ties and completely cutting off ties usually does not have the expected impact as after a point in time, because as mentioned earlier there were also good times in the marriage which one can miss and these remainders will often help one reach the balance.
|What if I have kids?|
Helping the children through divorce involves a deep understanding of what the divorce means to the child. As a parent, no matter what new roles you take up, the role of a mother/ father will always stay as a close part. The first and foremost point here is to note any signs such as ‘the kid came out my mistake, my marriage’, ‘a black mark’ because: the child came out of your union, he/she is not responsible for what happened to your marriage.
It is essential to explain to the child what is happening and answer relevant questions. Always remember to legitimize their feelings and look at the future wellbeing of the child with respect to (court scheduled) meeting the ex- spouse. After all, for the child, you both are still the parents. Incase of trying to wean of from this ‘parental’ responsibility, depending on the age and emotional effect the divorce has had on the child, pause- reflect and take baby steps with them.
5. Future self
As soon as the divorce is over, thinking about ‘What next?’ can lead one down a road to thinking about what will happen 10 years down the lane. Creating an abstract idea for the future can sometimes help paint a better picture of one’s state, but other times it can lead to a picture made of hopelessness and meaninglessness. Therefore taking a pen, noting down nurturing positive plans can assist this process, but a better plan would be to take a time-out and live in the present. A feeling of life swindling out of control can arise post-divorce, therefore while focusing on the next plan. Sticking to what one already has control over, starting from a daily decision of what to have for meals to a presentation at work which one has, can reduce the stress and tension one has over one’s future. This is a transition phase, and not having a concrete plant for the ‘future’ is the core component that guides one to explore and reflect on. Therefore taking a time- out from ‘what next?’ instead of self- blame, guilt, or tension is the key to one step ahead.
Having to find a closure and trying to make meaning out of the experience are common terms used, which are more often abstract as these experiences are different and expected the light at the end of the tunnel as soon as one enters it will be pushing through a person in search of a finish line when they are yet to figure out the path. Therefore try traveling through the tunnel instead of searching for the light at the end of it, as that is just an end goal.
It is important to differentiate post-divorce grief from depression so if you have any doubts and need more support, speak with our counselors on an anonymous and secure platform and work with your relationship counselor in addressing these issues at Askmile.com.