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Coping with Divorce

Divorce is an incredibly painful experience. Every couple’s situation is unique, but the basic steps for surviving are the same. That doesn’t mean that coping will be a step by step walk in the park. It’s like the grieving process; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Each stage comes at it’s own pace and not necessarily in numerical order. Many times the process is more like one step forward and two steps back. You can get through it. What is extraordinarily agonizing in the beginning will melt away to acceptance without the pain. You can even find peaceful happiness.

What now?

You have already been dealt a blow about as big as anyone can get. Deciding what to do and how to cope and still function in your world can be overwhelming. You may be the one who initiated the divorce and thought you would be so relieved, but the anguish you are probably experiencing is unexpected. So many decisions need to be made immediately. Where am I going to live? How can I afford it? What is going to happen to my kids? How did this happen? I am so angry. While it is true that many decisions must be made right away, you should avoid permanent, life changing choices for a while. Possibilities placed before you at this particular time may become a whole disastrous scenario later. Just deal with what has to be done, and seek advice from those you trust. Don’t close yourself off from the friends you have confidence in.

Legal Advice

One of those decisions that need to be made right away entails finding an attorney. Hold on a minute. Let’s break this down. Do you and your soon-to-be-ex have any chance of communicating and compromising on the ‘who gets what” level? You’d be surprised how many do-it-yourself divorces are prepared and finalized without the need of attorneys. If your are able to have a few sit downs with the ex and workout an agreement, why wouldn’t you? Just don not let grief or guilt cause you to give more than you should. “Well, what about the freakin’ paperwork?” you ask. Fair enough, look into the services of a paralegal. They are more affordable than attorneys, know the ins and outs of your county, and know all about the paperwork. Some even have flat rates, depending on the amount of paperwork that gets filed. Do a little digging around to see if you can find one with a good reputation.

Chances are you are not going to fit into the above category and you will need an attorney. Beware; attorneys are in it for the money. The more money you spend in this divorce, the more money your attorney makes. And there are many men out there that can testify from personal experience that the more you spend is a direct indication of how much you will get screwed. Don’t assume your attorney is in it just for you. Do some research on what your state requires. Read about the pitfalls and successes other men in your position have experienced. Don’t go to an attorney with blinders on, thinking you don’t need to know much because that’s what you are paying them for. Know your rights as a father, understand the pitfalls of alimony. Uncertainty about the future comes from not being informed. In other words, become like the boy scouts: Be Prepared.

What about my kids?

The welfare of your children is probably the most excruciating part of your divorce. Children of divorcing parents are fraught with confusion, misgivings, fear, insecurity, sadness and anger. They wonder, “What’s going to happen to me?” They experience guilt and question what they should have done differently to stop the divorce. “If I just wouldn’t have talked back so much. I should have done my chores when asked. This is all may fault,” are just a few of the conversations children have with themselves. You and your ex need to constantly reassure them. But, one of the hardest things to do is keep your arguments and divorce conversations out of their earshot. No matter how angry you and your ex get, no matter what, you need to keep the confrontations out of sight and sound of the kids. This is not always easy. Try to make an agreement with your soon-to-be ex wife not to air your differences in front of the kids. Have a back up plan. Agree to have some code word or phrase between the two of you that signals, “I am about to get really angry and say something neither one of us wants our kids to hear. Let’s stop for now.” And when it’s just you and your children around, never ever say anything bad about their mother. It puts kids in a terrible spot. They love both of you, so don’t make them feel like they have to choose sides.

Getting Back to Normal

Right now it may seem that you will never know normal again. But you will. Allow yourself to get through those grieving processes. You will probably find you spend a lot of time on the anger step. You will get through it. Don’t let your anger dictate your every decision. Keep busy. Spend time on the things you enjoyed before but didn’t have time for. Don’t shun your friends. Some of them will fall away, but the real friends will be there for you. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not the train. You will find life after divorce.

Content Created/Medically Reviewed by our Expert Doctors
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