If you are in the midst of or contemplating separation or divorce, you have likely heard an opinion from everyone you know, and maybe some you don’t, about what you should do. Whether you choose to separate or divorce is forced upon you, you likely have many questions and concerns. Knowing who to talk to can be difficult. Although you likely have many who love and care for you, it’s less likely they have walked in your precise shoes and know how to help you move forward now. In addition, you may have some who love you not know how to manage this moment at all and spend too much time and energy reminding you of your mistakes.
Indeed, there is enough shame and blame to go around in divorce, so it’s unlikely you need more (or any) of it. We will set aside those who are so judgmental of (or threatened by) what is happening in your life that they actively exclude and/or avoid you. Since they can’t be counted on to help, you shouldn’t consider them, but your emotional self may not be able to filter and sort out what help to accept and what to forget.
1. Embrace the Unknown
Instead, first, begin to embrace the unknown. Allow yourself to sit quietly for a moment or a week with the idea that you do not have a current vision for your future, likely, as it is changing from what it had been. Continue to care for yourself and your children, but do not rush to act, unless a deadline looms. It is important to reduce the panic, first, by allowing yourself and your emotions to settle a bit. If you must take action, start to organize yourself, your surroundings, and perhaps your financial documents. Understand what you can and let go of the rest in this moment. Do not rush to decide anything right now at all.
2. Think About What’s Next
After you are breathing normally again, or at least most of the time, think about what’s next. You likely need some advice about legal representation as well as what the financial and emotional consequences of divorce may be for you. You need to understand how the lives of your children will change and what you can do to support them too. These are important issues that should not be contemplated or decided without thoughtful contemplation. Since family and friends likely care deeply but may have experience and ideas different than yours, begin to think outside this framework to who might really help you.
3. Consider Hiring a Divorce Coach
Sure, you can begin to interview lawyers and try to understand the confusing options that exist about how to begin. You may take steps to get your financial house in order, but what if you do not know where to begin? Consider hiring a divorce coach to manage the myriad of decisions and options you face. A divorce coach can be your objective thinking partner and advocate at any stage of separation or divorce. Even before you hire a lawyer or other legal professional, a divorce coach can help you take a “step back” to examine your goals and how you may reach them. The kind of legal professional you hire will set the tone for how things proceed.
You also may need financial guidance. Your divorce coach can help with budgeting and refer you to certified divorce financial professionals too, as needed. In addition, a divorce coach works often with real estate professionals who have experience in divorce if buying or selling the marital home is in your future. Referrals to therapy can occur if more than coaching is needed for your sound mental health. In addition, a divorce coach is a great resource for parenting tips to help you be the best co-parent you can be in divorce. If needed, referrals to parenting professionals can be made too.
In sum, as you start the process of separation and divorce, take time to plan before you act. A divorce coach can stand beside you to help you at each decision point, as you need them, to be certain you have considered your options and are acting in the best interest of you and your children. There is little more you can hope to have in separation and divorce than a good plan. It is a time of overwhelm and naturally occurring chaos. If you can minimize both, with a good thinking partner, why not make the leap? A good divorce coach can save you time and money in the long run as well as help you preserve your emotional resources for the future. You are worth it. Reach out and find out for yourself.
Cherie Morris and Vicki Vollweiler are Certified Divorce Coaches with DearDivorceCoach.com. They support their clients in regards to all of the non-legal, practical, and emotional aspects of separation and divorce.