How to divorce: advice and tips to save your sanity - in 4 steps
Category: Better Endings | Author and Publisher: Elly Prior | First published: 25-10-2010 | Modified: 15-04-2018
When you're thinking about getting a divorce, you'll really need good advice. This isn't only for dealing with the legal aspects - but also to ensure you survive the emotional roller-coaster ride of the process itself.
When you're facing a divorce, you may feel that your partner is pulling all the strings. This might leave you feeling out of control and frightened. Perhaps you feel you've been abandoned in some kind of no-mans land, just waiting for the next onslaught of bad news. Coping with divorce can seem nothing but a nightmare.
I'm here to help you survive this difficult time.
My top divorce tips (or really: professional advice on relationships and how to divorce) have come from years of experience. I'm a couple counsellor and specialise in marriage and relationship guidance.
In this article I present my tips in 4 steps with essential information on how to make the whole divorce process as 'manageable' as possible. Each step is like a subject you and I might have discussed had you come to see me for counselling - briefly or at length.
You may also want to have a look at my articles Divorce Advice for Men and finding the best divorce lawyer.
I want to upfront with you - I earn a commission from BetterHelp. You pay the same fee, regardless.
I want to upfront with you - I earn a commission from BetterHelp. You pay the same fee, regardless.
Step 1: Prepare yourself
You might already have chewed this over endlessly, and suffered many sleepless nights because of it. However, just in case... I wouldn't be doing my job in guiding you if I didn't discuss this with you. (I'll accept the risk of being considered patronising!)
So, here goes...
The following divorce advice is for you to consider before you and/or your partner decide that your marriage has reached the end of the road.
12 Things to do before you divorce
- Use my Relationship Test to discover what went wrong, but also what is still right
- Go for marriage guidance counselling (although this isn't advised if you're dealing with domestic violence), or ...
- Use my Communication Kit for Happy Couples, even if your spouse appears to have lost all interest. This bundle has expert, action-packed and solution-focussed tools to give you the best possible chance to turn your fortunes around.
- Consider face-to-face or online counselling for yourself - really, that's the best divorce advice I can give you!
- Give careful consideration to how you will tell or prepare your partner if you haven't already
- Read my articles: How to Break Up and How to End a Relationship - both have great divorce advice
- Go for a temporary separation for quiet contemplation, re-evaluation and/or 'sorting yourself out'
- Reflect on your own role in the difficulties, rather than just blaming your partner (have a look at my article Problem Solving Strategies)
- Explore alternative accommodation if you're still living at home (do get some legal advice first)
- Consider all the financial implications of ending your marriage
- Consider the effect on your children - see my pages Children in the Middle and How Does Divorce Affect Children
- If you're at all unsure about ending your marriage, then get my Comprehensive Relationship Test to help you make the best possible decision.
Once you've done all that, I can help you with advice on how to divorce and what it entails for you and your family. I can't give you legal advice, but I can help you with divorce tips to lessen the pain of the process.
Step 2: Divorce advice on how to deal with your emotions
7 Tips on how to deal with your emotions during your divorce
- Be sure to remain calm when talking with your spouse at all times however difficult (there's nothing to be gained from further rows at this point)
- Stay calm when you speak to anyone who is fond of her or him
- Read my articles on children and divorce - so that you can contain yourself when you feel pushed to the limit and want to badmouth your spouse in front of the children
- Work off that 'wound up' feeling with physical exercise. Any kind of sport - like aerobics, yoga or Tai Chi - can make a real difference
- Try to prevent yourself taking flight by drinking too much alcohol (see Stages of Alcoholism) or by comfort eating, smoking, taking drugs or endlessly staring at a computer or television screen
- Find a good divorce lawyer
- Don't for a minute think that revenge is going to make you feel better!
It can be so easy, and perhaps, understandable, if you ended up disillusioned and bitter. Much better though to let your troubles be the making of you - more positive and forward-looking
I will forever be grateful for your advice to handle the divorce in a way that inflicts the least pain on the family and ex-spouse and to come out of the process with the most dignity possible.
Some days are still better than others. But I've never regretted or second guessed my decision. I believe this is, in part, due to the wise advice you offer on your website.
Thank you again. You're my hero.
You may well feel like screaming or hiding under the duvet. But I'd love to introduce you to something I think could really help much more than that...
Self-hypnosis! All you need to do is put your headphones on, and listen to some hypnosis downloads. You'll feel tons better by allowing yourself to be soothed by one of these, rather than either crying yourself to sleep or lying awake for hours.
As well as some really good stress management downloads, there are some excellent ones specifically for divorce. For further information, hop over to my article: Hypnosis FAQ and Downloads.
Consider connecting with a professional counsellor - online
12 Ways divorce advice and counselling can help
A professional therapist specialised in divorce counselling should be able to help you:
- understand normal reactions to stress and loss
- explore the possible reasons for the break-up
- understand what might be going on for you and your partner now
- communicate effectively with your partner
- explore sources of support
- advise you of appropriate services
- identify and access your own personal resources
- communicate with the most important people in your life
- advise you on how to support the children
- facilitate re-engagement with each other if there is a glimmer of hope
- re-engage with life and find new meaning if there isn't
- 'normalise' feelings, thoughts and behaviours during this time of crisis, so that you feel better able to cope with your divorce
Separation and/or divorce can unfortunately be a lengthy process. But I can't tell you how important it is to keep the channels of communication open.
The right divorce advice from appropriate professionals can save your sanity and will ensure that you're coping with your divorce the best you can.
Communicating effectively when you're both emotional can seem at times impossible. However, remaining at the very least polite and co-operative is vital if you have children.
You may be splitting up, but you are going to be parents for the rest of your lives.
Step 3: How to get divorced and not 'divorce' everyone else!
Based on my experience with couples, I have some divorce tips and advice for dealing with friends and family. The process of separation and divorce - with all its losses - will be much more manageable with the help and support of loved ones. Therefore take heed of the following...
6 Things to consider about your family and friends
- You might need their support and friendship
- You're likely to have to continue seeing them (family gatherings, parties, etc.)
- They may feel they need to choose between you and your partner
- Many couples get back together again months or years later, enjoy seeing each other on the odd occasion or even become firm friends (I know - it may surprise you!)
- Your children are likely to want to continue seeing them
- Your children will want to talk to you about them without fear that they're letting you down
There's nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitive child."
Frank A. Clark
I recommend that you try to anticipate and plan for every possible reaction from your children, your family and friends - and those of your partner. This will help you to prepare for any expression of feelings and behaviours which might have otherwise surprised you.
My divorce tips are:
- be careful what you say about your spouse to your friends and family (including his or her family). However difficult it is and however badly you perceive your partner has behaved.
- Keep in mind the above possibilities.
- However much you might be provoked - act honourably always
Step 4: Telling other people
One of my tips on how to get divorced is to tell the friends and family members you're most often in touch with sooner rather than later that you're thinking of separation or divorce. At least that way you have some control over how they find out. Your partner may want to tell their own family, but don't count on it and don't count on it that it's done in a manner you'd hoped for.
Here are my tips for telling loved ones...
6 Steps to let people know your situation
- Call them to say you want to discuss something important. Calmly and kindly decline to say anything on the phone. Just say: "It's very personal and I'd really like to tell you face-to-face."
- Ask them when would be a good time to meet or visit them. You'd want to know that it's convenient so you can prevent it becoming more stressful than it already is
- When you arrive and before you start, be sure that you have their attention - undisturbed - and that any children cannot overhear
- I'd suggest a gentle lead-in: "I wonder if you've been aware of our difficulties..." Then something like: "I've now decided that I want (or your partner's name wants) a divorce". Stop yourself saying anything negative about your partner at all costs. It's best not to make any assumptions at this stage about who they're likely to support. Also, if at a later stage the two of you are getting back together (every divorce lawyer will tell you it happens!) you wouldn't want your partner's relationship with everyone else to be compromised
- Expect a reaction (see step 3). Just acknowledge that reaction, whether or not you understand it or agree with it. Don't allow yourself to be led into a heated discussion.
Say something like: "I know that this is difficult for you". Or gently say: "Of course you're upset/angry/disappointed/worried..."
Lastly, family and friends who are on your 'Christmas list' but that you seldom see also need to be told - ideally. Consider simply sending them a card announcing the end of your marriage or long-term relationship. That may well prevent embarrassment later down the line.
Give people time to adjust
Remember that the more emotional we are as human beings the more unpredictable our reactions. Actually, the more emotional we are, the more stupid we become!
One of my best tips is to really leave time for others to calm down - whilst you're there, after having delivered the message, and in the weeks to come. People will need time to process what you've told them. You too need time - right now it wouldn't be helpful to make a permanent decision about whether or not you want to see them again.
How long it takes before you begin to feel better
There's no doubt that the whole process of separation and divorce is hugely challenging. There'll be decisions to be made, tears, stress, chores and children. You can't afford to become a nervous wreck. The stronger you are, the more ably you're going to cope and the calmer the waters.
My last bit of advice is then that you take time to invest in yourself. Do your own thing at least for some of the time. Steal that time if you have to.
Learn to relax and meditate - the benefits are immeasurable. Re-engage with friends and family for much needed support, distraction, fun, love and laughter. Stay away from negative people though!
For sadness and stress, also stay away from your doctor - antidepressants aren't going to help. Natural remedies can relieve sadness and weepiness.
Ideally you need to allow sufficient time, care and consideration to end your marriage well.
A 'good' ending will help you to begin a new relationship more successfully - when you're ready of course. That new relationship stands a better chance of flourishing when bitterness, hurt, anger and pain have subsided and children have settled.
With the right divorce advice though there's every chance that you both (and your children) will recover sooner and better.
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It's me - Elly Prior, I'm the Founder and Author of this site. I'm a 'real' person! I'm hoping to make a positive difference, small or large, to every person who visits my site.
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