Going through a divorce can be incredibly painful. It may be the toughest storm you’ve ever had to weather. The financial and emotional stress can be hard to bear and the transition from “we” to “me” may feel like going through an identity crisis. If you’re accustomed to thinking of yourself as one half of a larger whole this is the time to remind yourself that you are a unique and complete individual all of your own. It’s a major life alteration and, although it may not feel like it at the moment, there can indeed be a truly full and happy life after divorce. While on the road of transition here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Give yourself the freedom to mourn. Going through a divorce may feel like you’ve experienced a death. That’s because, in a sense, you have. Divorce is the death of a marriage and perhaps the lifestyle you envisioned. The feelings you experience may be similar to those in the stages of grief and loss. Recognize that this is normal and may take some time.
2. Lean heavily into your support system. That means allowing friends and family to be there for you when you’re ready. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to take advantage of their offers. Spending time with others during this painful time can help decrease feelings of loneliness. Also, many people find divorce support groups to be helpful. Seek one out in your local community if you feel it would be beneficial to spend time with others who have experienced similar pain.
3. Monitor your thoughts. Though you are experiencing pain, it’s important to take note of the messages you are sending yourself. Positivity is a powerful tool. Recognize that thoughts like “my life is over” aren’t factually true – your life is not over. Acknowledge that it may feel that way and then try to reframe it in a positive way such as “this is an opportunity for a new beginning for me.” Perhaps take some time to reflect on goals you had before you were married or personal passions that have been left behind. Then, take advantage of the opportunity to put them back into practice.
4. Know when to seek professional help. If you feel like you are unable to move beyond your grief it may be time to reach out. If you or loved ones begin to notice symptoms of depression in you or your children or if you simply feel it would be beneficial to talk to an objective third party to help guide you on your new path in life don’t hesitate.
There is life after divorce. How will you choose to spend it?
Photo Credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=732
You’ve probably heard it said that money is the number one issue couples argue about. Did you know it can also significantly predict divorce? According to a recent study out of Utah State University, couples who argued over money once a week were 30% more likely to get divorced than those who argued over finances a few times a month.* In fact, disputing over money was a larger indicator than any other category examined; including sex, spending time together, in-laws, and chores.
With this in mind, it’s important to openly explore issues of money with your partner before even getting married. Perhaps the best place to start is at the beginning. Take a close look at your upbringing and how it compares to that of your partner’s with regards to money. Were your parents major savers or spenders? Was debt commonplace or something avoided at all costs? Did they combine incomes or keep them separate? Most money behaviors are learned so it’s important to explore your pasts together and determine how they have shaped your views.
Continue your exploration into the past by discussing credit. It’s important to be honest with your partner about past financial mistakes. If you decide to pool your money together then one person’s debt becomes that of both individuals. It’s best not to have surprises in this area after saying “I do.” Do you have a plan to manage the debt? The sooner you discuss the better.
Next, take a look at the logistics of money management in a marriage. Who will handle paying the bills? Will you set financial goals together? What are those financial goals? How will you develop specific plans to save (for a home, children, vacations or other luxury items, retirement, etc)? Will every purchase be made after consultation with your partner or will you develop a specific dollar amount that deems it a “big ticket item” which requires consultation with your partner? What will that dollar amount be?
The truth is you won’t be able to predict every potential disagreement about money before you get married. The important thing is knowing how to communicate with your partner when those disagreements come up. So ten years from now when your step-daughter turns 16 and asks your spouse to buy her a car and he’s ready to sign on the dotted line while you’d prefer to make her work for it herself – you’ll want to know how to discuss your views in a way that won’t damage your marriage. Or when you discover that your partner’s desire to eat lunch out everyday is making a significant dent in the savings towards a down payment on a house – you’ll need to find a way to come together on the issue. Money will inevitably play a role in every marriage. Premarital counseling can help you to identify problem areas and give you the tools to communicate about them throughout the course of your marriage.
Check back later this week for our next topic in our premarital series: In-laws.
- Pre-Marital Counseling