Endless calls to lawyers. Fighting with your spouse. Helping your children get used to living with uncertainty. The challenges of divorce are enough to give anyone a headache. But it doesn’t have to be like this. You can manage your own divorce in a way that minimizes stress and preserves your sanity.
If you’re considering a divorce, know that you and your spouse control how things proceed. By working together, you can avoid endless warfare. Your divorce can be a way to turn the page to a chapter of adventure and self-discovery—or it can be a financial drain and a source of constant stress. The choice is ultimately up to you.
These simple strategies can help you manage your own divorce while keeping your sanity.
Find Ways to Work Together
The more you and your ex can work together, the less stressful your divorce will be. That’s doubly true if you have kids and must find ways to productively co-parent. Compromise. Don’t say everything that’s on your mind. And ask your ex to work with you to craft a divorce you can both tolerate.
Treat Your Ex How You Want to Be Treated
When you’re reeling from the pain of a disappointing marriage, it’s tempting to take your pain out on your ex. Many divorcing couples use the legal system as a way to publicly display their pain and seek vengeance. This won’t make things better. Instead, it will increase costs, prolong the process, and trigger needless stress.
Instead, treat your ex how you want to be treated. Be kind even when they’re not. It’s a lot harder to be mean to someone who is nice to you, so be the type of person you want your ex to be. Your kids are watching and learning, and your ex just might follow your lead.
Consider an Uncontested Divorce
If you can treat your ex with kindness and find ways to work together, you may be able to pursue an uncontested divorce. This allows you to control the direction of your divorce without interference from lawyers, without a judge telling you how to structure your life, and without lots of additional expenses.
The average contested divorce costs more than $15,000. If you work with your spouse on an uncontested divorce, you can save $10,000 or more.
Carve Out Time for Self-Care
Exhaustion, hunger, and stress all make divorce feel much worse. To survive your divorce and use it as a way to grow and evolve, you must tend to your own needs. After all, if you’re an exhausted mess, you have nothing to give to your kids and little energy to plan for the future. Put self-care on your to-do list. Whether it’s meditating, exercising, journaling, or venting to a friend, do something kind for yourself every day.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself:
- Am I tired?
- Am I hungry?
- Am I in physical pain?
A 20-minute nap, stretching, a healthy meal, and a quick massage can take the edge off many divorce-related pains.
Try Something New
When you’re going through a divorce, it’s easy to feel disappointed in your life. Get your groove back by trying something new. Take a class to master a skill you’ve always admired. Travel. Or just resolve to say “yes” to new plans more often. Consider turning your post-divorce year into a year of firsts. Use this time to grow, to challenge yourself, and to finally become the person you’ve always hoped to be.
Get Help From the Right People
Your friends are a great distraction from the stress of divorce. Enjoy as much time with them as you can, and consider scheduling regular evenings out. Loneliness can be debilitating during a divorce. Friendship is a powerful antidote.
Your friends, however, might not be enough. They may tell you want you want to hear, but friends are not always neutral and may take sides in a divorce. This can exacerbate tensions between you and your spouse, particularly if your friends insist that your ex deserves whatever you can dish out. If you’re struggling to manage the emotions associated with divorce—or to recover from the pain of an unfulfilling marriage—consider talking to a therapist. Your therapist will gently challenge you to adopt new perspectives and new ways of being. This can help you build a better future and healthier future relationships.
Divorce can leave you feeling powerless. Ultimately, your fate is in your own hands. Choose to manage your divorce in a way that defies cultural expectations. The next year can be the best of your life—if you’ll get out of your own way, consider new ways to be, and let go of the pain you experienced in your marriage.