How do you survive a difficult separation?
To remain resilient throughout a marriage separation, it’s essential to recognize that the initial stages can leave you feeling disoriented and wondering how to cope. However, by taking proactive steps, you can navigate this challenging time with strength. Instead of succumbing to passivity, it’s crucial to embrace active participation for a successful separation. By doing so, you’ll pave the way for personal growth and enrichment, ensuring that this experience doesn’t diminish you, but empowers you to emerge stronger.
Give yourself the opportunity to explore and consciously make choices about the life you want to lead. Here are the top five things to consider to maintain stability and avoid the pitfalls that can undermine you after a marriage ending:
- Envision Your Future: Think about what life might look like as you start moving forward. What steps do you need to take to get there? Will you have to move? If so, view this as a fresh start, a chance to begin life post-separation and create a better future.
- Career Considerations: Will you need to return to work? If you’ve been out of the workforce for a little while, consider retraining and look for opportunities that you’re passionate about. If you don’t need to work, consider volunteer work or pursuing new interests and hobbies.
- Develop Your Support Network: Cultivate relationships with new friends, family, and perhaps a family therapist or support groups. These resources can provide invaluable help during this difficult time.
- Positive Outlook: Strive to maintain a positive outlook. By taking care of your mental health and focusing on self-care, you can be a better parent. Putting your children’s best interests first should be your primary objective. Managing your emotions privately and providing your children with a sense of security and love will help them adjust to the separation.
- Avoid Getting Stuck: If you find yourself unable to see beyond this stage of separation and the possibility of ever finding happiness, you risk undermining your ability to move forward. If you focus solely on the hurt, you lose sight of the big picture and how this new stage in your life can take shape. You need to develop a sense of purpose for yourself.
Remember, separation may feel like the end of life as you know it, but it could also be the beginning of a better life if you work at it!
Staying Sane Throughout separation
separation is a process with a colossal emotional component. If you’re not careful to deal with the emotions separately and outside of the separation negotiations, you risk making decisions you’ll later regret.
The emotions involved in separation can be intense and vary from person to person. You may feel fear, anger, sadness, guilt, shock, frustration, and even relief. It’s crucial to deal with these feelings, or they will catch up to you later and become emotional baggage.
People often underestimate how powerful an experience separation truly is. There are no rituals or customs associated with mourning the loss of a marriage, unlike the customs associated with losing a loved one. However, it’s important to recognize that you are grieving. Grief is not a mental disorder; it’s a natural, albeit painful, emotion that needs to be worked through.
How do I overcome the grief of my separation?
Grief presents an opportunity to make important choices and think about the life you want to lead. There’s a significant amount of emotional work and healing that needs to be done when you’re grieving, especially during the first year or two of going through a separation and separation.
Ways to Feel Better
If you behave passively, like a leaf that is simply tossed this way and that by the wind, you are taking away your own freedom to move forward with your life. A smart separation requires you to do some work, not be passive. Once you truly accept this, you will have set your feet firmly on a path that can enrich you rather than diminish you.
Give yourself the opportunity to explore and consciously make choices about the life you want to lead. Envision what you would like life to look like when you are ready to start moving on, and think about what you need to do to get there. Take care of yourself both emotionally and physically.
Emotionally: Develop your support network of friends, family, clergy, parenting groups, support groups, and perhaps a family therapist.
Physically: Eat right and exercise. Try as hard as you can to lead a healthy, balanced life. Make time for yourself – do something which makes you happy.
Running on Empty: 10 tips to Recharge Yourself
Do you ever experience those moments where it’s your turn to be with the children, and it feels like you’re operating at less than optimal level? Don’t fret if you do. This doesn’t label you a bad parent, but rather, a parent going through a divorce.
Being a divorced parent signifies that the responsibility of raising your children during their stay with you lies solely on your shoulders. It also implies that when your kids are with you, they require your undivided attention. There are no breaks, no moments of respite, and no time for self-care. Consequently, you might feel as though you’re running on empty continually.
To practice effective parenting and stay focused in the present with all your energy intact, you need to indulge in self-care. Remember, a happy parent nurtures a happy child. So, how do you achieve this while juggling parenting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with seemingly no end in sight?
Have you encountered those instances where you’re simply burnt out? You’re so exhausted that you can hardly keep your eyes open, and every time one of your children needs something, you respond more abruptly than you intend? If these feelings resonate with you, it’s time to recharge and refuel yourself for the next day.
You might be asking, “How can I recharge when I’m struggling to even catch a breath?” It’s straightforward!
Start by adopting healthy habits. This might seem overly simple, but we often fail to get our daily fill of fruits, veggies, and proteins. All of these nutrients provide energy and improve your overall health, thereby equipping your body to tackle the day ahead.
Don’t skip breakfast. This critical meal sets the tone for your day, providing you with much-needed energy. Kickstart your day with some protein and fruit, avoiding sugary temptations like donuts, sweetened cereals, or your Starbucks fix.
Exercise is vital. Besides helping clear your mind, exercise also gets the blood pumping and invigorates you. Even a brisk 30-minute walk can make a difference.
Meditation. Centering yourself through meditation is an excellent way to dispel negative emotions and replace them with healing energy. Just 10 minutes a day can make you feel re-energized and refreshed.
Hugging. Nothing recharges you quite like a warm, heartfelt hug from your child. It dissolves worries instantly and revives you.
Hot baths. Considered a luxury by many, a hot bath surrounded by your favorite scents and candles can be therapeutic. When the kids are asleep and you have some spare time, opt for this relaxation technique over screen time. Let your troubles dissolve away with the bathwater.
Laughter. While it might seem challenging to laugh off your worries, a deep, hearty laugh that ends in tears is a brilliant way to release stress.
Sleep. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. As we age, our sleep requirements reduce, and we may experience disrupted sleep. If you face any sleep-related issues, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor. Even something as simple as taking melatonin can help. A solid eight hours of rest is invaluable when navigating the role of a single parent.
Read a book. Immerse yourself in your favorite book or e-book before bedtime. This not only calms your mind, facilitating better sleep, but also temporarily transports you to another world, where the day’s worries cease to exist.
Take it one day at a time. Each day will bring new challenges and different feelings in your divorce journey. Avoid getting overwhelmed by concerns of the past or the future; just focus on the present day.
Feeling like the Fifth Wheel?
Many people at the beginning of their separation or separation often feel abandoned or sidelined by their married friends. This is not uncommon, and while it can be unnerving, it’s important to remember that this is not about you, it’s about how your friends feel about your situation. It’s not that your friends are afraid of you fraternizing with their spouse, it’s that they are used to socializing with you as a couple or they feel uncomfortable being confronted with separation.
So, what do you do about this to build your confidence and life and deal with this situation?
- Make New Single Friends: Ask your friends if they know of someone single to introduce you to, not for a romantic relationship but for friendship.
- Go to a Therapist: Venting about this situation to friends will only alienate you from your friends.
- Build Your Support Network: Support groups, clergy, friends, therapist, and so on.
- Pursue Interests: Go to lectures or programs which are of interest. You can find many things to enjoy advertised in the paper or at your synagogue or church.
- Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: Start doing things outside of your comfort level for entertainment; enjoy a movie on your own, go to the bookstore, enjoy an exhibit at a museum or art gallery. This can make you a more interesting person with experiences to share and have fun in the process.
- Recognize That This Is Going to Happen: Don’t take it personally.
Making it Through Celebrations
One of the most challenging aspects of the emotional roller coaster ride called separation and separation is the first year of celebrating the holidays uncoupled. In fact, there is so much uncertainty and fear over this time that some would rather skip it altogether.
We often put ourselves under incredible pressure to celebrate holidays the traditional route and often times, it just isn’t possible. To cap it off, we don’t necessarily want to go that route, but feel societal pressure to fit in. Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Passover, Valentines Day, our birthday, and the various other special days, can wreak havoc with our emotions especially if we find ourselves alone. While some of these holidays have religious significance others seem to be just a reason for a Hallmark card, yet we feel anxious to partake and be like everyone else.
Who says you have to celebrate those days the traditional route or the way you celebrated when you were married? If you find yourself alone, create new meaning for these celebrations and enjoy them on your own terms. Here are some tips to get you through these celebrations.
Here are tips to help you get through the holidays if you find yourself in this situation.
- Create New Traditions: If the old traditions are too painful to follow, let them go. Instead of trying to re-create the past, create your own positive future.
- Throw Your Own Party: Invite friends or family who have nowhere to go during this time.
- Take Care of Yourself: Make a special effort to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Don’t try drowning your sorrows with alcohol or food. Doing anything to excess when you are sad or worried is rarely a smart move.
- Be Good to Yourself: Go for a manicure or massage, buy a great CD, catch up on your favorite hobby. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend or family member.
- Seek Support: If you are feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable, speak with a trusted friend, therapist or someone in your support group.
- Plan Ahead: If it looks like you’re going to be spending the time on your own, find an interesting activity or a place to travel so you can be with other people.
- Surround Yourself with People: Whether from your support network, your family, your church or synagogue. You may even be able to attend a special support group holiday function.
- Contemplate Your Future: Think about how you would like your life to look like post-separation and write down what you need to do to get there. Start doing one of those things now.
- Stay in Control: Make lists of what you need to do and check each item off as you accomplish it.
- Use Any Time Alone: Do the things you’ve been putting off — catching up on paperwork; catching up on sleep; reading the great book that’s been sitting unopened for weeks or months; calling the friend you’ve been meaning to reconnect with.
- Do Something for Others: If putting on a dinner or party in the family home doesn’t feel right, try doing something for others off site. For example, you could visit a retirement home and read to those whose families can’t be with them during the holidays.
- Make the Holidays Special for Your Children: Include them in developing new traditions. Ask them how they would like to celebrate.
- Plan Ahead for Your Children: Plan ahead how your children are going to spend the holidays. Avoid the stress of figuring things out last minute. This will give you a sense of comfort, relief and control.
- Be Creative and Flexible: If your children are not celebrating the holidays with you, think about making another day during holiday time a special day together.
- Contact Your Children: If your children are going to be with their other parent, phone them and wish them a happy holiday. Let them know that you are thinking about them.
- Don’t Make Your Children Feel Responsible: Don’t make your children feel that they have to take care of you during this special time. Send them the message that the holidays are a special time and you want them to enjoy themselves.
- Spare a Thought for Your Ex: Your marriage likely had some good moments. Remembering those times occasionally will help you lift yourself out of your bitterness about your current situation.
My Home is Run Down, But It’s Not Broken
The cabinet door in my kitchen has fallen off the hinge, the hot water tank just burst, the fridge door won’t close properly and I need a new roof. But while my home is in need of physical repair, it certainly does not need emotional repair.
Perhaps I’m sensitive, but I don’t consider my children to be growing up in a “broken home.” When I talk to my children, we call ourselves a family because that’s what we are.
We do not compare ourselves to more “traditional” families with two parents living at home. separation may change a family’s structure, but we’re still a family. All families – so-called “traditional” families and the rest of us – all have challenges, no matter how our living arrangements are configured.
Make Life Work for Your Kids
As a parent, your challenge is to make life work for your kids. Ensure they don’t view themselves as disadvantaged or as “children of separation.” They’re regular children.
When I glimpse into families with two parents living at home, my home often appears to be working wonderfully well.
I may be a bit more frazzled than someone in a home with two parents living there – but that’s because of the practical everyday exigencies of life with three active children. (And who really knows what goes on behind closed doors. Just because there are two parents, does that always mean both parents share all the responsibilities? Don’t compare!)
There’s no one to share the driving with
I often have to be in two places at the same time. I run a business, but I still have to manage my personal affairs – on my own. So while I might be a bit more stressed (Did I mention I’m an A type personality?) my children are growing up in a healthy and loving environment.
I have house rules, set curfews (although I have been a bit lax at times), my children must get their homework done, and I’m always there to kiss them goodnight and listen to their worries.
Think About a Few Things…
- What about blended families? Does blending suddenly unbreak “broken homes”?
- What about the blended families where the culture is more like oil and water?
- How about a family where both parents are living together but constantly fighting?
- Or a family where both parents live together but one parent is never at home? Always working, always away on weekends and never around for the kids.
Constance Ahrons, author of the highly praised books, We’re Still Family and The Good separation calls a single parent household a binuclear family –– a much healthier way to view a single parent household.
So, what do we call ourselves – FAMILY. A wonderful, supportive family, that is who we are.
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