Some people spend months slowly building up the courage to file for divorce because they have grown increasingly miserable in their marriage. Other people realize immediately that divorce is necessary when their spouse becomes physically violent or they discover evidence of adultery.
Whether you slowly realize your marriage is no longer healthy or had an abrupt epiphany, filing for divorce won’t be easy. Even those fleeing violence and infidelity often experience intense emotional reactions to divorce. Thankfully, with the right focus, you can protect yourself from long-term emotional damage due to the end of your marriage.
Find a support group or counselor
The first thing that you need to do is recognize that you cannot process your emotions on your own. You need someone to let you know when you are making a mountain out of a molehill or judging yourself too harshly compared to how you view your ex’s behavior. A counselor or divorce support group can give you a crucial place to speak honestly about your feelings and sort through them.
Recognize that divorce is a major loss
Even if you cannot wait for the judge to finalize your divorce and set you free, you will still need to give yourself space to grieve. Learning about the five stages of grief and how they manifest, especially realizing they don’t always happen in order, can help you respond better to the intense emotions that will come up as you let go of this stage in your life.
Few things will help someone sort through the devastation of divorce like creative work. Whether you want to try throwing pottery for the first time or start writing poetry again like you did in high school, recognize that creativity can be a healthy outlet for intense emotions. You don’t necessarily have to share what you create, but the very act of creation during emotional upheaval can be therapeutic.
Focus on the future
While you are in divorce limbo, your life may be more stressful than it will be after the courts finalize everything. You can’t look around at your temporary living arrangements and tell yourself that you have failed at life. You have to give yourself time to heal and rebuild. By focusing on what life will be like in a year, you can help keep positivity and gratitude in your life to counter the most negative feelings that arise.
Keeping things as rational and calm when planning for your divorce and interacting with your ex will let you minimize how your feelings affect your legal and financial circumstances. Giving yourself space to work through the emotional reactions you will have will make the process a little smoother and cleaner.