Is divorce advice for women different than divorce advice for men?
While you might think that the best divorce advice would be the same for everyone, no matter their gender or circumstances, that’s not entirely true.
Divorce is both universal and specific. It is both general and personal.
That means that there are some “truths” about divorce that will apply to almost everyone, no matter who or where you are. For example, everyone needs to gather financial information, get some legal advice, put their kids first etc.
But there are also some pieces of divorce advice that need to be very specific to you and your situation. And there are some pieces of divorce advice that tend to apply more to women than to men.
With that in mind, here are 33 pieces of divorce advice that women facing divorce need to keep in mind.*
[*NOTE: This article is written with the traditional, and very stereotypical, family in mind. It assumes that the woman has been the primary caretaker of the children and the man has been the primary breadwinner for the family. This stereotype obviously isn’t true for everyone!
Many women are the primary breadwinners for their family. Many men are stay-at-home dads. If your family doesn’t adhere to traditional stereotypes, you would probably benefit from reading BOTH this article and its companion article, divorce advice for men. Both of these articles will provide you with information that will be useful for you.]
33 Pieces of Divorce Advice for Women
1. Take care of yourself.
As women, most of us tend to take care of everyone else while neglecting ourselves. While taking care of everyone else may SEEM admirable, in divorce, it can be deadly!
Divorce is a marathon, not a sprint. If you want to come out the other end of your divorce as a whole human instead of one of the walking wounded, you need to pace yourself.
I know it sounds cliché, but you need to eat right, exercise, and get as much sleep as you can. Medicating away your pain with food, alcohol, chocolate, or any other substance, may make you feel better in the short term, but it will kick your butt in the long term.
(Of course, letting yourself indulge once in a while can be cathartic. You just don’t want to do it every day.)
2. Get a therapist.
While the stigma that used to be associated with going to therapy has mostly gone away, many people are still reluctant to see a therapist. They either don’t think they need the help, or they don’t want to invest their time or money in therapy.
Yet, whether you realize it now or not, investing in a good therapist when you’re facing divorce will be the BEST investment you ever made!
Divorce takes everyone on an emotional rollercoaster ride. No matter how amicable or easy you think your divorce is going to be, I promise you that you’re going to experience more ups and downs than you would on a 100 mile an hour cab ride through the hills of San Francisco.
Having someone steady and solid by your side as you go through your divorce will be invaluable. A good therapist can help you keep your emotions in check and keep your head on straight.
(Plus, therapy is often covered by your medical insurance! That makes it even more affordable.)
3. LEARN how divorce works ASAP.
No one wants to have to learn about divorce. But if you’re facing divorce, NOT KNOWING how it works can lead you to make stupid mistakes that will cost you dearly for years.
Of course, most people assume that they don’t need to know all the “ins and outs” of divorce. They figure their divorce lawyer will just take care of everything for them.
Sadly, those people are terribly wrong.
Yes, a good divorce lawyer will be invaluable in your divorce. But your divorce lawyer isn’t going to take care of EVERYTHING for you.
As you go through your divorce you’re going to face a thousand challenges and have to make a thousand decisions, both big and small. The more you understand what your options are IN ADVANCE, the more empowered you will be to choose the options that will serve you best.
What’s more the more you understand what’s happening to you and how the divorce system works, the less terrified you will be about your future. In divorce, as in most everything else in life, knowledge really is power.
4. Figure out what matters to you from the start.
As women, we tend to be people pleasers. We don’t ask for the things we want. We secretly hope that someone will notice how selfless we’re being and magnanimously give us exactly what we want anyway.
Here’s the problem. Divorce doesn’t work that way!
If you want to put yourself in the best position to get what you want in your divorce, you have to know what you want. Then you have to actually go for it!
That means that you have to put in the time and effort to decide what you want. You have to think about your priorities and consciously figure out what matters most to you.
Doing that isn’t easy. (… which is why most people don’t do it!)
It’s much easier to think about what you don’t want. You don’t want to be homeless and destitute after your divorce is over. You don’t want to screw up your kids. Most of all, you don’t want your divorce to get ugly.
Knowing all of that is helpful … but it still doesn’t tell you what you DO want!
If you can’t identify what you want – clearly and specifically – you’re not likely to get it.
5. Don’t do stupid things.
Not doing stupid things seems obvious, right? But just spend one morning in divorce court. You’ll be amazed at the crazy things that divorcing people do!
Divorcing people destroy each other’s property. They lie to each other, and they lie about each other. They violate court orders and do things that are intentionally designed to hurt one another.
Don’t do that!
Divorce is driven by emotions. If you let your emotions have free reign you may do things that give you a few moments of glee. But those moments will be followed by a lot of pain and regret when your divorce takes forever and costs a fortune.
(… which is another reason to get a good therapist! S/he can help you control your inner gremlins BEFORE they wreak havoc in your divorce!.)
Not sure what things would be “stupid” to do?
Here’s an easy way to figure it out. If you’re thinking of doing something that you would be too embarrassed to tell your grandmother or your church group about, don’t do it!
6. Get support.
Going through a divorce is world-rocking! No matter who you are, or how strong you think you are, you still need help.
You need support.
That support can be personal, or it can be professional. In a perfect world, it will be both.
Your professional support team starts with a good therapist. Hiring a divorce lawyer is also critical. Beyond that, the members of your professional team will vary depending on your situation.
Yet, even though having professional support is so important, having personal support will make a huge difference, too. You need your family and friends in your corner.
But you also could benefit from being in a good divorce support group. The group can be virtual or in-person. Both are good.
(And, NO! Being in a support group is not weird! Spending time with other people who are going through the same things you are can be really comforting. Plus you can share ideas, resources and strategies too.)
The bottom line is that the more support you can get, the better off you will be.
7. Make copies of all of your financial documents as soon as you possibly can.
This falls into the category of “divorce advice that’s good for everyone.” Yet, stereotypically, women often have less access to the family financial information than their husbands. Because of that, it pays to start early.
Financial documents notoriously “go missing” once the word “divorce” has been mentioned. If you’re familiar with your finances, and you know what your financial documents are, it doesn’t matter as much if you can’t lay your hands on them later.
But if you’re NOT so familiar with your finances, then not having your financial documents in hand before you start your divorce can be a real handicap. That’s because – not only do you NOT have your important financial documents. But you don’t even know where to look to find them.
THAT’s the real problem!
So make copies of all of whatever financial documents you can find as soon as you can find them. If you don’t understand the documents you find, or you don’t know what they are, copy them anyway.
It’s better to have too much information than too little.
8. Figure out your finances.
It doesn’t matter if numbers aren’t your thing, or if you’ve never paid a bill in your life. If you want to make sure you’re not getting the short end of the stick in your divorce, you have to understand the basics of personal finance.
That doesn’t mean you need to become a CPA. But you DO need to know how to make a budget and a balance sheet. What’s more, you WILL need to actually make a budget and a balance sheet for yourself! (Sorry!)
You will also need to have a working understanding of how the assets that you own work. That means you need to know the difference between a 401(k) and a Roth IRA. You need to know the value of items that don’t have a price tag stamped on them – like your house and your car.
If you have debt, you’ll need to understand how that debt works. It will pay to figure out which credit cards have the highest interest rate. It’s also important to know who’s name is on each credit card, mortgage, or loan too.
If the thought of diving into your finances like that makes you feel sick to your stomach, then get help.
A divorce financial planner, an accountant or even a regular financial planner, can help you sort through your finances so you clearly understand your true financial situation. S/he can also help you get organized and make a budget and balance sheet. A good financial planner can also help you look at your financial situation now and make projects about how long your money will last into the future.
9. Become self-supporting.
This one is really tough – especially if you’ve been a stay-at-home mom for years! But unless your divorce is going to leave you with such a huge pot of money that you’ll be financially free for the rest of your life, you are probably going to need to find a way to support yourself at some point.
Here’s the hard truth. Alimony is becoming harder and harder to get. Plus, when you do get spousal support, it will rarely last for your lifetime. Because of that, you need to figure out a plan for how you’re going to support yourself NOW!
I know that can feel tremendously unfair! If you gave up your career years ago with the understanding that you would stay home and raise the kids and your husband would work to support you, “changing the deal” now can seem wrong.
But divorce changes everything.
Fair or not, the sooner you start dealing with your new reality, the farther ahead you will be.
So if you haven’t had a job outside the home for years and your skills are rusty, now is the time to start brushing them up.
If you want to start a new career or a business, now is the time to start focusing on how you’re going to do that. If you need to go back to school, then figure out how much that will cost and how you’re going to do it.
It’s not important for you become self-supporting tomorrow.
What’s important is that you know how long it will take you (realistically!) to get back into the work force and how much you’re likely to make when you do.
10. Only keep the house if you can really afford it.
When you’re already losing your spouse, your marriage, and the life you dreamed of having in a divorce, losing your house too seems almost cruel.
A house represents stability – especially for your kids! It also determines your children’s school district. Plus, for most people, their home is one of their biggest assets.
It’s only natural then to want to hang onto your house when you’re getting a divorce – particularly if you want the kids to live with you most of the time.
But keeping the house in your divorce is not always the best financial decision.
For example, if you stay in the house, but you can’t afford the payments and the upkeep, you’re going to have a problem. And while uprooting your children because of your divorce seems horrible now, uprooting them because you have to sell your house or face foreclosure a year or two later can be even worse.
Remember, too, that in order to keep the house you generally have to buy your spouse out. If you don’t have a lot of other assets in your marriage, “buying your spouse out” can be challenging. It can also make you house poor.
Plus, if all of your money is tied up in your house, and the value goes down, you will lose BIG time! (And if you think the value of homes never goes down, just remember 2008!)
What’s more, if your home mortgage is in both you AND your spouse’s name, you’re probably going to have to refinance it sooner rather than later. If interest rates are low, and you have enough income on your own to qualify for a mortgage, that’s not a big issue. But if you don’t …
11. Be a good role model for your kids.
Most parents want to protect their kids in a divorce. Most parents want to spend as much time with their kids both during and after their divorce as they can get.
All of that is important.
But what’s just as important (and VERY easy to forget!) is that kids learn more by watching what you do than they do by listening to what you say. That means that, because you’re a mother, the WAY you go through your divorce will likely affect your kids as much (or more!) than anything else.
If you routinely get into shouting matches with your husband, and you treat him like dirt, your kids will see that. If you lie to him or try to cheat him, your kids will see that. They will see how you ACT during your divorce. And that will set the stage for how THEY act in their own relationships later in life.
That’s why being a good role model for your kids (even when you’re a mess and you’d rather just curl up in a ball and cry!) is so important.
How do you do that?
Try focusing on who you want to BE as you go through your divorce. Show your kids the best way to deal with a bad situation with kindness and grace. Bring your best self to every interaction with your husband, even when doing that is hard! (… because it will be!)
The bottom line is that if you focus on who you want to BE instead of focusing on what you want to GET, your divorce will likely be a very different experience for you and for your kids.
12. Don’t bad mouth your husband to your kids.
There’s nothing harder than keeping your mouth shut when you have something important to say.
It’s hard to keep quiet when your spouse is doing dumb things, or when you know you’re right and he’s wrong. It’s especially hard to keep quiet when you see your children suffering and you want them to know that their pain is not your fault. ( … especially when getting divorced wasn’t your idea!)
But tearing down your spouse, or hurting your kids’ relationship with him, ultimately hurts your kids.
They hear criticisms of the parent they love as criticisms of themselves. So even if you have to bite your tongue until it bleeds, don’t talk smack about your husband to your kids.
13. Stop expecting your husband to change.
We all get into patterns in our intimate relationships. If you’ve lived with your husband for any length of time, you know how he will react to certain things. You often know what he will say or do before he says or does anything.
Unfortunately, your husband probably says and does a lot of things that make you bat shit crazy!
You want him to change! And maybe the changes you wish he would make seem simple … like putting his dirty underwear in the laundry hamper instead of throwing it on the floor every night.
But human beings rarely change from the outside. Real change only comes from the inside. If your husband doesn’t want to change, there’s not going to be a whole lot you can do about it.
(Think of it this way. If you weren’t able to change your husband while you were married, do you really think you can change him while you’re getting a divorce?!)
What you CAN change is your expectations about your husband’s behavior. That’s something you have absolute control over.
So, stop torturing yourself by expecting your husband to suddenly start being different than he is. Instead reign in your own expectations. Doing that will save you an enormous amount of pain.
14. Run your credit report.
Whether you are familiar with your finances or not, pulling a credit report when you are starting your divorce is essential.
You can pull a credit report for free once a year from three different services: Transunion, Equifax and Experian. (Don’t just Google “free credit report.” Doing that will bring up a lot of ads for places that will charge you to pull your credit report.)
If there are credit cards bills you forgot about, your credit report will refresh your memory about them. If there are debts you didn’t know existed, or that you didn’t know were in your name, you’ll find that out now.
While discovering that kind of information is never fun, it’s much better to know now than later.
If you discover unknown debts years after your divorce is already over, there may be nothing you can do but pay those debts - whether they were really yours or not.
(NOTE: It also would be helpful for you to know your credit score. Sometimes you can get your credit score through one of your credit card companies. If not, and you have to pay a few dollars extra to get your score, it’s worth it!)
15. Establish Credit in Your Own Name
If your husband controlled the finances in your marriage, and you don’t have access to credit, NOW is the time to change that!
Open a credit card in your own name. Even if your initial credit limit is low, having access to cash to pay your bills or buy things is critical.
Once you’ve obtained a credit card, step number two is to use it!
You don’t have to run up a big bill. (As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t run up a big bill!) But the way you build your credit score and increase your credit card limit is by using your credit! So, every month, buy a little something and then pay off your credit card bill in full when the bill is due.
16. Get a P.O. Box
Getting your own credit card is great, but unless you go paperless, they’ve got to send the bills somewhere. If your spouse doesn’t know you just opened a new credit card, the last thing you want is for the bill to be delivered to your house!
As you go through your divorce, it’s critical that you have somewhere that mail can be delivered to you privately. You also want to make sure that your mail actually gets to you!
During a divorce it’s not uncommon for one spouse to intercept the other’s mail. That’s why you need a secure place for your mail to be delivered.
If you don’t want to get a P.O. Box and you have a friend or family member who will receive your mail, that’s fine. But you really need to have a place where you can get mail that is NOT your house!
17. Make sure your kids get plenty of time with both you AND your husband.
This one is hard. This one hurts. At the same time, it’s absolutely essential for your kids’ development.
Research has shown that children do better when both parents are involved in their lives. Yet, as a parent, it can be really hard to divide your children’s time between you and your husband after a divorce. Chances are, you BOTH want to spend as much time as possible with your kids.
Yet, the reality is that you will both LOSE time with your kids after your divorce.
That’s because (theoretically at least) while you’re married, you had access to your kids 24/7. After your divorce, any time your kids spend with your ex is time they’re NOT spending with you.
If you’ve been the primary caregiver for your kids, the thought of losing 50% of the time you used to have with your kids can be excruciating. The thought of losing more than 50% of is unthinkable!
But here’s what you probably don’t want to think about: your husband likely feels the same way. Even if he wasn’t a super-active dad before your divorce, it’s not uncommon for men to step up their parenting after divorce.
While that may not seem fair, it actually can be very good for your kids.
If their relationship with their dad got better because of your divorce, that can be a kind of “silver lining” in an otherwise tough situation. Unfortunately, that means that you may have to suck up your own feelings and, for their sake, support their relationship with your ex.
18. Learn to receive.
Most women are givers. We take care of everyone else, but we rarely let anyone take care of us.
But divorce depletes our resources. It taxes our reserves. It stretches us in ways we never wanted to be stretched.
And it can be exhausting!
To keep from getting totally burned out, it’s important that we take care of ourselves. And a big part of self-care is learning how to receive.
Now is the time to learn how to let other people do things for you.
If you have the luxury of having a friend or family member who wants to help you through this hard time in your life – let them! If a neighbor offers to bring dinner over, say yes!
Learning to accept help isn’t easy. But it can be one of the greatest unexpected gifts of your divorce.
19. Choose your divorce lawyer wisely.
One of the most important choices you will make during your divorce is which divorce lawyer you will hire to represent you. If you hire the wrong lawyer, your divorce will take longer, cost more, and be full of more aggravation than if you don’t.
Hiring a good divorce lawyer starts with finding someone who is qualified and experienced in handling family law matters. This isn’t the time or place to cheap out, or to hire your neighbor’s best friend who normally practices real estate law. You need to hire an experienced attorney who works in family law all the time.
You also need to hire an attorney who is well-versed in the divorce process that you want to use.
For example, if you want to mediate your divorce, hiring a gladiator isn’t likely to go well. The chances that you will be able to settle your divorce amicably while your gladiator is arguing with everyone aren’t good.
Hiring a lawyer who specializes in mediation to try your case in court will cause you the just as many problems.
The bottom line is that, if you want to get the best result in your divorce, you need to match the divorce lawyer you choose to the divorce process you want to use.
20. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by your lawyer.
As a general rule, lawyers aren’t the most warm and fuzzy people on the planet.
In order to be able to dominate in a courtroom, negotiate like a bulldog, and persuade a judge that you’re right and your opponent is wrong, you can’t be a shrinking violet.
The problem is that the same personality traits that make someone intimidating in court can also make that person intimidating in real life as well.
When you couple a dominant divorce lawyer with an emotionally vulnerable client it’s easy to see how the lawyer always ends up on top. Yet, even though you may be an emotional wreck when you see your divorce lawyer, you also need to be able to communicate with your lawyer and stand up for yourself.
That may take time. It may take practice. Most of all, it’s going to take choosing the right divorce lawyer!
How do you know if your lawyer is right for you? It comes down to communication and style.
If your lawyer doesn’t listen to you, or insists on doing things that you don’t want him/her to do, you may not have the right lawyer. If your lawyer is strong, or even bossy, but s/he treats you with respect, that’s okay.
But if your lawyer yells at you, ignores you, makes you feel stupid, or makes you cry, it’s time to get a different lawyer.
21. Make your own decisions.
For many people, making decisions is difficult. Making decisions when the stakes are high, you’re full of emotions and you don’t have complete information, is even harder.
Yet, in divorce, that’s exactly what you’re going to have to do.
When you’re going through a divorce you’re going to have to make more major life decisions than you will at almost any other time. … and you’re going to have to make them on your own.
You can’t rely on your husband, your lawyer, or anyone else to make your decisions for you. Sure, you can ask their advice. But ultimately YOU will have to decide what’s best for you and your future.
So the best thing you can do for yourself is start now. Learn how to gather information, weigh your options, and make a choice.
If you’re not used to making your own decisions, doing this will be scary at first. But decision-making is a muscle. The more decisions you make, the more decisions you will be able to make, and the better your decisions will start to be.
22. Make a budget for your future BEFORE you settle your divorce.
One of the biggest mistakes people make during divorce is settling their case without really knowing what their post-divorce budget will be. Doing that means you’re settling blindly and just hoping everything will turn out okay.
Maybe it will. But if it doesn’t, you’re going to be in a world of hurt.
If you don’t have enough income coming in each month to pay your bills because you didn’t negotiate enough support, you’re going to be kicking yourself for years! You’re also going to have to find another way to make ends meet.
That’s why knowing BEFORE you negotiate a settlement is so important.
When you know the exact amount of money you will need to survive after your divorce, you’ll be better equipped to negotiate in a way that gets you what you need.
23. Establish a way to talk to your husband about the kids – even when it’s hard.
Life with kids is constantly changing. Kids get sick. Plans change. Life happens.
If you’re a parent, you and your ex have to find a way to communicate about the kids after your divorce.
That communication can be via email, text, phone, or in person. If none of those options work for you, you can use a co-parenting app.
Today there are a multitude of co-parenting apps you can use to make talking with your ex after divorce easier and more secure. These apps allow you to have email conversations with your husband that can’t be changed after they’ve been sent. That means that, by using one of these apps, you can provide proof of exactly who said what to whom and when they said it.
Some of the apps also have built-in “Tone-O-Meters” that will let you know when your email is a little too snippy.
Whether you use a co-parenting app or any other means of communication post-divorce what matters most is that you have some way of communicating with your ex about your kids.
24. Give yourself the option of taking back your maiden name.
Taking your maiden name back – especially if you have kids – can be a huge dilemma for you.
Many moms would like to go back to their maiden name, but they don’t want to have a different last name than their kids. Or, they shudder at the thought of going through the hassle of changing their name back to what it used to be.
The truth is, switching names involves a lot of paperwork. It can be a ginormous pain in the behind.
But, getting the right to switch back to your maiden name doesn’t involve any paperwork.
Here’s the deal, there’s almost no downside to having your divorce paperwork written in a way that gives you the right to take back your maiden name.
Having the right to change your name doesn’t force you to do it. It just means that you will have the ability to do so in the future – if you want. That gives you options.
What’s more, preserving your right to use your maiden name costs you nothing if you do it as part of your divorce. On the other hand, if you don’t preserve your right during your divorce, but later decide you want your name back, you will have to go back to court, start a whole new case, and pay potentially thousands of dollars in court fees to do it.
So, whether you think you want your maiden name back or not, it doesn’t hurt to keep your options open.
25. Don’t start dating until AFTER your divorce.
It doesn’t matter how “ready” you feel to start looking for love again. If your divorce isn’t done, don’t do it!
(Ironically, this applies even if your soon-to-be-ex cheated on you. It applies even if he is already dating someone else himself! Human psychology is complicated. If you start dating before you’re divorced you run the risk that your husband’s nose will get all out of joint about it. If that happens, finalizing your divorce just becomes tougher.)
Dating during your divorce can also make setting the ground rules of your parenting plan more difficult.
For example, you may suddenly find that your husband wants a morality clause in your parenting agreement when he never would have thought about that before!
Finally, the dangers of “rebound relationships” are real. If you start a new relationship while you’re still technically married, it may work out great. But if it doesn’t, and if you’re still going through a divorce when your rebound relationship implodes, you’re going to have to deal with BOTH breakups at the same time!
Really. You don’t need that.
26. Let yourself fall apart when your kids aren’t around.
You’re not a robot! Divorce is draining and emotional.
There will be days when you can barely keep it together. If you happen to have your kids on those “bad” days, you won’t have the luxury of falling apart. But, once your kids are gone, it’s perfectly okay for you to spend some time crying, screaming, diving into a tub of Chunky Monkey, or spending the whole day in bed.
While you don’t want to make self-pity a habit, in small doses it’s not only acceptable, it’s necessary.
If you want to get over your divorce and heal, you have to first let yourself feel.
27. Stay off social media!
When you’re going through a divorce, social media is not your friend!
It doesn’t matter whether your platform of choice is Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or Tik Tok. You do not need to be sharing your divorce story with anyone on any social media platform!
You also don’t need to be sharing pictures of anything else that’s going on in your life either! Even if you think what you’re sharing is perfectly innocent, you never know how your posts may affect your divorce.
For example, pictures of you having a glass of wine with dinner could be used as evidence that you drink too much. Pictures of you in a group of friends could be used to show that you’ve spent time with someone your spouse believes you’re having an affair with.
And on and on it goes.
If all of that sounds a little over-the-top, I get it. But here are two things you need to consider:
- When people are getting divorced and are angry with each other, no behavior is too over-the-top to happen; and
- It doesn’t matter if your husband actually wins his argument in court by using your social media posts or not. The point is that by posting on social media you gave him something to argue about or argue with. When you stay off social media you nip that argument in the bud, thus saving yourself time and money.
(If you’re STILL not convinced you should stay off social media while you’re getting a divorce, think about this. Research has shown that Facebook is cited in 1 out of every 5 divorce cases filed in the United States. Social Media also accounts for at least 65% of the online evidence that’s used in divorce cases.)
28. Start thinking about health insurance NOW!
One of the biggest post-divorce budgeting items that people either miss or underestimate is health insurance.
Health insurance costs have been going nowhere but up for decades. If you get your health insurance through your husband’s employer, don’t just assume that you can get COBRA when you’re divorced and that will take care of everything.
Contrary to popular belief, COBRA coverage is NOT available for everyone. When it is, it doesn’t last forever … and it’s expensive! The premium that your husband pays from his paycheck only represents a portion of the total premium cost. Your husband’s employer picks up the other part of the tab.
Your husband’s employer will not do that for you! So you need to investigate other health insurance options for yourself. What’s more, you need to do that NOW!
After you’re divorced you have a very limited window of time in which you can secure health insurance. If you blow that window because you didn’t have enough time to figure out what to do, you may need to go without health insurance until the next open enrollment period starts.
Or you may get saddled with huge payments for crappy coverage.
The bottom line is, when it comes to health insurance, there is no such thing as exploring your options too soon.
29. Find a way to manage your stress.
You will rarely go through a more stressful time in your life than you do when you divorce. Finding a way to deal with your divorce stress is critical if you want to make it to the end of your divorce without having a nervous breakdown or a bleeding ulcer.
There are a myriad of different techniques for dealing with stress. You can take up yoga, or meditation. You can take walks in nature or listen to calming music.
Or you can focus more on keeping your physical body relaxed by exercising more and creating healthy sleeping patterns.
You can also release your stress by talking about your issues with a therapist or in a support group.
You could fill libraries with all the books that have been written about stress and stress management. Which technique you use to get a handle on your stress isn’t important.
What matters is that you use SOME kind of stress management to bring down your stress levels while you’re going through your divorce.
30. Rediscover the parts of you that you’ve let go.
So many women lose themselves in their marriage.
As women, we’re all taught that we “should” be a certain way after we get married. In order to live up to our ideal, or make our husbands happy, or make our parents happy, we end up sacrificing a part of ourselves.
We make a million little compromises that seem okay in the moment but add up to a BIG compromise in the end. Sometimes, that’s okay. But when your marriage blows up, you may suddenly find that all those compromises you’ve been making for years don’t seem so okay anymore.
You discover that in trying to keep your marriage, you’ve somehow lost yourself.
Now is the time to find yourself again. It’s the time to start rediscovering YOU.
If you have no idea how to do that, start small. Ask yourself a few questions.
- What did you love to do before you got married that you don’t do anymore?
- Is there something you’ve been meaning to do that you’ve never done before?
- What makes you happy?
- If nothing makes you happy, what used to make you happy before your divorce?
- What have you always dreamed of doing, but been too afraid to try?
Asking yourself these questions, and others like them, will help you start rediscovering the “you” who’s patiently lying underneath the pain of your present situation, just waiting to come out!
31. Don’t binge.
Binging on anything is not particularly good for you at any time. But, when you’re going through a divorce and your life is already crazy, binging will ultimately only make it crazier.
(Btw, “binging” can apply to food, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, gambling, sleeping, T.V., and any other vice you can think of!)
Bingeing can make you physically sick. It robs you of your confidence and power, ultimately making you feel like you’re a slave to a behavior you don’t want to have. That makes you feel really bad about yourself.
Since divorce already makes you feel bad about yourself, adding bingeing behavior to the mix only brings you down more.
What you need to realize is that the basis of all binging lies in escape. Subconsciously you’re trying to escape from the pain you’re in by indulging in something that feels good in the moment.
While the desire to escape pain is normal, it’s the “over-indulging” part of binging that gets you in trouble.
Sure, over-indulging distracts you from your pain. But it doesn’t make that pain go away. In fact, it actually keeps you from having to deal with the issues that are causing your pain.
Unfortunately, until you deal with those issues, until you feel the feelings you’re trying to avoid, they keep coming up. If you avoid them long enough, they will cause physical illness. They will cause you emotional distress and psychological angst until you deal with them.
In the meantime, you’ll end up being fat, broke, depressed, addicted or whatever else your bingeing caused ON TOP OF still having all the problems you were trying to avoid!
32. Don’t have sex with your husband … but if you do – be careful!
There are very few things that can make you feel worse than going through a divorce.
Sleeping with your husband WHILE you’re going through a divorce is one of those things!
Sure, it may feel good in the moment. And, yes, it may satisfy your curiosity about whether you two are still sexually compatible.
But it WON’T tell you whether you can or should reconcile with your husband (…unless a lack of sexual compatibility was the problem that caused your marriage to break down.) It also won’t make you feel better about your divorce overall.
Having sex with your soon-to-be-ex will probably make you feel closer to him emotionally. That’s okay if you ultimately reconcile.
But if you don’t, it just re-opens your emotional wound. It makes your divorce even MORE painful.
(Of course, we’re all human. We all do things we say we’ll never do. So just in case you DO have sex with your husband, make sure you’re protected! Accidents happen … and a new baby is definitely NOT what you need right now!)
33. Don’t expect to be friends right away.
So many people want to be friends with their ex after their divorce is over. That’s a great goal to have. It will certainly make life easier for your kids. But it doesn’t usually happen right away!
Divorce is painful no matter how “nice” you try to make it! Even if your divorce
was amicable, you and your ex-husband are not automatically going to be best buddies the day after your divorce is done.
You’re going to go through a time when you hate each other. You’re going to go through a time when every interaction you have feels awkward and weird.
Trying to force yourself (or your ex) to “be friends” before you feel ready for that kind of a relationship will only make establishing a real friendship harder.
So take the pressure off yourself and off your ex.
If you want to be friends, take your time. Take your space. Let things evolve naturally.
Then, they will.
This article was originally published in September, 2018 and updated on August 6, 2021.