Maybe you’ve heard that Jean Kerr quote equating divorce as “like being hit by a Mack truck. If you live through it, you start looking very carefully to the right and to the left.”
I’m here to tell you the good news: you will live through this!
Twice divorced myself, I understand the financial, logistical and psychological aspects of divorce. It seems daunting if not downright terrifying at times. There are so many changes all at once. Divorce is about letting go, detaching from your spouse and maybe friends and family, too – because sometimes in divorce, people choose “sides.”
It’s sad and sometimes inevitable. You’re not just mourning the loss of one person; in some cases, it’s several people gone nearly overnight. The emotional weight is heavy. You need to release the idea of being married, of being together with your spouse for the rest of your lives. It’s a complicated untangling.
My top tip for navigating divorce is to remind yourself that you do not need to do this alone – nor should you. Recognize that you’re experiencing one of life’s greatest stressors and transitions and it’s likely that there will be times when you’re operating at diminished decision-making capacity. That’s okay, because you are going to have reinforcements. You’re going to pick your team upfront.
There Are Brighter Days Ahead After Divorce
Your reinforcements are your team of supports, both personal and professional that you carefully choose to have your back and help you with your decisions. Divorce brings a multitude of decisions and new choices for the future. You need solid financial advice and emotional support. You need a sounding board for almost every aspect of your new life that you’re crafting for yourself and possibly others, too, if you’re a parent.
On the legal front, before you do anything else, speak to a family lawyer, even if you ultimately choose a more gentle and cost-effective option such as mediation. Do your homework upfront, understand the legal process and considerations for your state or province. Meet with a family law specialist in addition to doing your own research online.
Google is your friend and so are your divorced friends and acquaintances. Meet for coffee, pick their brains, get recommendations. Once you have solid legal advice you can then make decisions about how best to dissolve the marriage. If you and your ex are friendly, definitely consider doing it yourselves or with the help of a mediator.
There are also tax implications to divorce. You need a good accountant and a good financial planner and/or divorce financial advisor to help you with investments and estate planning. You may have to move and/or sell your home and you need a good realtor or rental agent to help you find a new place to live. You should also consider a psychologist or other therapist to help you and your children navigate the psychological implications of divorce.
Finally, your team should also include those closest to you, the people who love you: your friends and family. Tell them you’re picking your team and ask them for their help. You’ll likely be buoyed by the outpouring of support you’ll receive.
Eventually, as you move through your legal, financial, emotional and logistical challenges and begin to heal, you can begin to contemplate your new life, rebuilding carefully with your new, hard-won wisdom. I promise that there are brighter days ahead.
That one, two, three years out from now your life will look and feel very different. By different, I mean that it’s likely to be better, calmer, happier, more authentic because it’s a life that’s truly yours. And not only are there brighter days ahead, but there will also be new adventures, new loves, new people coming into your life.
While this divorce wasn’t something that you ever wanted to have happened because you wanted your happily-ever-after, with the benefit of hindsight, you might just come to see that it was strangely fortuitous, propelling you to become the happiest, most resilient and fulfilled version of yourself.
Holly Martyn, author of the dating after divorce memoir/manual Would It Kill You to Put on Some Lipstick: 1 Year and 100 Dates (Glitterati, March 2020), was raised near Vancouver, Canada. Eventually, she found her way to New York City where she became a successful Wall Street executive. A graduate of Columbia University, Holly lives with her daughter and dog in Connecticut and California. www.hollymartyn.com