Divorce. It’s something that you never thought you’d be facing. Most people avoid thinking about it until they feel they have no other options. According to the American Institute of Stress, divorce is one of the most stressful processes a person can undergo, second only to the death of a spouse. Coming to terms with the idea that your marriage is ending can take an emotional and physical toll and overwhelm every aspect of your life.
Feelings of failure, shame, grief and anxiety can make it difficult to function. Your ability to work may be impacted, you may not want to be around family and friends and you may not be able to count on people who feel their loyalty is torn. If children are involved, taking care of their needs may seem impossible when you can’t do basic things like eat, work, pay bills, etc.
So how do you cope with this stressful life challenge and turn it into an opportunity to change your life for the better? The first step is to acknowledge that you need the help of others. There are too many important decisions to make and you need personal and professional support. Experts can explain the legalities, outline your options and identify the consequences. A therapist can help you work through your grief and find your strength to move on with your life. Family and friends can give you support and provide an outlet to release stress.
Friends are wonderful but they can have a limit to how much they are willing or able to help. A divorce coach can provide you with a sounding board and thinking partner to help you look at various options. A divorce coach can enable you to step back from your immediate emotions and provide an unbiased, professional evaluation of your best-case and worst-case scenarios. The advantage of using a divorce coach is that they are usually a lot less expensive than lawyers and can minimize the time you need to spend with a lawyer. In addition, a divorce coach helps you build your resilience so you can do the internal work that leads to a happier and healthier life.
When I went through my divorce, one of the first things I did was hire a lawyer. She was an experienced divorce attorney and I trusted her. There were so many decisions to make and I looked to her to help me make many of those decisions. While she was looking at my divorce from a legal point of view, she wasn't evaluating all of the variables that were important to me. A divorce coach could have helped me evaluate all of my options and enabled me to have had more peace of mind throughout the process.
What happens during a divorce can impact you and your family for years to come. It can really help to get as much support as you can while you go through this emotional and sometimes overwhelming time. And you may be surprised when you come out the other side how much stronger you feel and how happy you are with your new life.
Jill Barnett Kaufman, MSW, LCSW and Certified Parent Educator is an experienced clinician who helps clients discover new ways to resolve a variety of challenges and bring more happiness and peace into their lives.