How to Cope With Separation or Divorce

by Beverly Bird
Being proactive and practical can help you deal with divorce.

Being proactive and practical can help you deal with divorce.

Liz Gregg/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Your divorce might be a blindsiding event in your life, or it might be something you’ve been bracing yourself for and dreading for some time. Either way, you’re probably going to have to reach deep to cope with it. This is usually easier if you focus on the moment, not the big picture. Take each situation as it comes, deal with it and move on. As much as possible, apply common sense and follow some basic rules.

Step 1

Maintain your status quo. Don’t make changes in your life that will unbalance you even more. This includes things you think might make you feel better, such as a radical new haircut, as well as practical issues, like making dinner or exercising at the same time you always have. If you have children, little changes on top of the big ones will rock them even more. Routines, even when dull, can calm your nerves as well.

Step 2

Hold your tongue, even when it hurts. You have nothing to gain from fighting with your spouse, and a lot to lose. If you lash out, it might make you feel better while you’re doing it, but if your kids are listening, it will make things harder on them. It can also create such hard feelings between you that negotiating a divorce settlement becomes more a matter of revenge than equity. Spouses typically fare better, and are happier post-divorce, when they resolve issues on their own rather than resorting to a judge to decide things for them.

Step 3

Indulge yourself, but not with an entire bottle of wine. Create your own personal reward system. If you can get through the day without snapping at your soon-to-be ex, or even if you just get through without crying or snapping at anyone at all, give yourself half an hour to do something you really enjoy. It will balance all the bad in your life with a little bit of good, and it will help to keep your emotions on a more even keel. Day after day of unrelenting angst can result in depression and an inability to cope.

Step 4

Take proactive steps to protect your interests as your divorce gets underway. When you consult with potential attorneys, they’re going to ask you a lot of questions about your debts, assets, income and expenses. Learn and document the answers ahead of time. This is a much better way of fighting back than tangling with your spouse, and it will help you to feel like you’re doing something constructive for yourself.