I am by no means a licensed mental health professional, psychologist or psychiatrist; however if you have been a follower of my blog regarding divorce, child custody, or any family law issue you know that I constantly write about the psychological tolls that the cases take on my clients. This is because I witness every day the psychological struggles that my clients go through. Divorce is hard on everyone involved, no matter how you slice it. Many people hear this, but do not actually understand until they are in the trenches. However, it is so important to understand, for your mental and physical health, before you are in the trenches that this will be a difficult process and have a list of coping mechanisms to help you through it.
So many people fall into the trap of bitterness, anger and resentment and cannot get past those emotions. While I will agree that your feelings are legitimate, you also need to work through those feelings so that you can get to the other side and feel a release. Many people hang on, even after the divorce is finalized. I have seen what this does to people, and I do not wish it on anyone. Getting past that anger is not an easy feat, but one that is beyond necessary.
Also, divorce is difficult because it bring change—the familiarity is no longer there, you have to move, your holidays are not the same, you lose a pet, you have to split the time with the children, etc. Change is so hard and I will be the first to admit that I hate it. But, change is a part of life; in fact, life is about seasons and weathering those seasons. How will you weather in a mentally healthy way?
For children, divorce is scary and they do not understand it. They cannot process why mommy and daddy do not love each other anymore. If you are in the middle of a divorce or are considering it and you have children, take a parenting class now. You should definitely address these feelings on the front end rather than in the midst of the storm. For example, For Kids’ Sake is a parenting class offered to help parents understand how their divorce is affecting their children and gives them tools to help the children cope through this. To understand what your bickering, pointing fingers, talking about daddy in front of them, etc. does to the children will truly convict and humble you. If your children can see you both on a united front to love and protect them in the very beginning, it will help the process in so many ways. But, if you are in the middle or even already divorce, it is absolutely not too late. It is never too late to work on parental relationships. Your children just need to know that no matter what happens, they will always be loved, they will always have access to both parents, and they will always be protected.
So, I discussed having coping mechanisms in your arsenal so that you can get through this; but, what would they be? I tell my clients to do what makes you happy—do you love to go walking; do you like to run; do you like to work out; do you enjoy playing a musical instrument; whatever you like to do, do it. But, it is also important to enroll in counseling or something of this nature. Many people do not realize it because they are in denial; but, you do need help working through those difficult emotions. If you do not want to or cannot afford formal counseling, a lot of churches and other institutions offer support groups that are specialized for loss, grieving, and even divorcees. Finding someone that you can vent to is such an achievement because then you are able to get it all out so that you do not bring it into the courtroom. Also, you will find yourself less inclined to discuss this with your children and maybe even less angry with your soon to be ex-spouse. Having the opportunity to be heard is half of the battle. Just be sure that the company you keep is the encouraging kind and not the kind that will keep you in the negative rut. Remember that life is short; this divorce is just a season, and after winter comes spring.