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10 Things to Know Before You Decide to Divorce

10 Things to Know Before You Decide to Divorce

The decision to separate and divorce from your spouse can be one of the most stressful and pain-staking decisions you will ever make. Feelings of uncertainty, sorrow, grieving, denial, and guilt can paralyze you, and make you feel stuck. While there is no easy way to make this very difficult decision, preparing yourself for the emotions that lie ahead of you may help ease the burden when the time comes to have The Talk with your partner. Knowing what to expect when you and your spouse decide to end the marriage can also make this time a little less difficult.

1. Fear

You will be afraid to call it quits because you don’t know what lies ahead of you. You may be scared of the Unknown and because of this, you may tell yourself that you are comfortable even if you are miserable. You will will try to weigh the pros and cons of staying married, and tell yourself you can continue to endure your unhappy marriage. You will tell yourself lies and reason that you should stay together for the kids, for the finances, etc. But fact that you’re trying to bargain against your happiness indicates that something is wrong. You are bargaining because you are scared, but know that this is normal.

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2. Insanity

Know that when the decision is make to split, the roller coaster of emotions you will feel is unlike anything you have ever experienced. Grief, pain, relief, heartbreak, confusion, and the desperation of wanting to be loved can feel like waking up every morning and learning that you are the only survivor to a nuclear war. Do not hide these emotions, but accept them and deal with them in a healthy manner. And once you do, know that there is a weight that will slowly start to ease from your shoulders—the same weight that you denied all this time when you told yourself nothing was wrong.

3. Desperation

Even if your self-esteem was in the dumps from your martial troubles prior to the split, know that it will shatter once the separation occurs. You may find yourself wanting to be loved and validated, desperate for attention that your spouse no longer provided. You will think that nobody will ever love you or want you again, and you may be tempted to to date immediately and latch on to the first person who catches your eye. Resist this urge to attach yourself, even if you have not had that romantic touch or intimacy for a long time. Trying to fill that void with another relationship robs you of the chance to heal, and may set into motion a cycle of dependency for you, when what you need is to be strong and focus on loving yourself.

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4. Denial

You may tell yourself that you are find and holding up well, but do not mistake that complacency with merely bootleg up your emotions. You will need a support system: a therapist, a support group, good friends, the non-judgmental anonymity of online forums. Whatever combination of systems you choose should help you attain two objectives–creating a safe place for venting, while also helping you find constructive ways to cope with the divorce in a healthy manner. Do not convince yourself that you are better than that, stronger than that. You are human. Go talk to someone.

5. Overwhelm

You will feel like you are getting sprayed with an industrial fire-hose, especially at the beginning when you aren’t sure what you should be doing. The number of  “to-do’s” and “should-do’s” regarding emotions, finances, legal issues, custody, and other logistics will arrive with incredible urgency. Shifting prorates and conflicting advise may make you will feel paralyzed and overwhelmed.  Understand that splitting is a process and you don’t have to do everything at once. There will be things to take care of immediately (safety, shelter, income), things to address a little bit later (finding a good lawyer, mediator, and therapist) and there are things to address later on down the road (agreeing on a second separation plan, assuring you and your children are adjusting). You will need to remind yourself that divorce is like a marathon and it requires patience and persistence. Show compassion for yourself, even if things seem to take forever.

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6. Anger

Understand that you can only control your behavior, and not your spouse’s.  For serious offenses (threatening harm, screwing with your finance), you should absolutely take action. But there will also be annoyances that may not endanger you, but still make you mad. It may seem like your spouse is gong out of their way to make your life as miserable as they can, which could result in a long, drawn-out, expensive, soul-sucking divorce for you, if you let it.  And although you can’t control their behavior, you can control how you react to it. Taking the high road, although not instantly gratifying, may save you future stress and drama. This will be easier said than done.

7. Being Reactive

You will be tempted to make decisions driven by emotion, rather than logic. You will constantly forget that divorce, boiled down, is a business transaction–a splitting of assets and incomes. The logical part of you will understand this, but the part of you that is hurt may spend months fighting over things that have nothing to do with money at all.  During the legal process, you will be forced to choose your battles. Choose wisely. You will need to learn that nobody wins in divorce. Otherwise, you will find yourself robbed of years of your life fighting in court, having spent tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees that could have been put to better use in your post-divorce life, and so emotionally distraught that moving on will be extremely difficult.

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8. Discomfort

You will find yourself in new uncomfortable situations. There are too many to mention here. You may be re-entering the workforce. Your budget may be tight. Your children may have trouble adjusting and exhibit behavioral problems. You may find friends treating you differently, thinking for some reason your split means that their relationship is in jeopardy. Social situations where there are couples may make you feel lonely and miserable. Understand that you are not alone in all of these struggles and that there are infinite resources are out there to help you. Do not allow any of this discomfort to make you bitter.

9. Self-Pity

There will be dark times where you wallow in self-pity. You may cry and say to yourself, “my life was not supposed to be like this. I thought my marriage was perfect and we’d be together forever.” You maybe be ashamed and feel like a failure. Know that this is part of the grieving process, and understand that you must accept your circumstances have changed and adapt to them before you can learn how to heal and move on. You will learn that are not a prisoner to those circumstances, and you have the power to emerge a stronger person.

10. Empowerment, if you let it

You will learn that divorce gives you a choice.  You can choose to look at this split as a trauma from which you will never recover, and to be guided by anger and fear and and panic, or you can choose the path that takes more work–the path where you ask for assistance, get the support you need, educate yourself about every aspect of the divorce (and there are many), and understand that you will have the power to get through it all. No one can make that choice but you.

Featured photo credit: Riding the Train by Colin Logan via imcreator.com

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Martha Bodyfelt

Certified Divorce and Recovery Coach

How To Kick Your Divorce Anxiety In The Ass 5 Divorce Screw-Ups to Avoid 3 Steps for Beating Your Divorce Fears 10 Things to Know Before You Decide to Divorce 9 Ways to Pick Your Divorce Battles

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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