Disclaimer Alert! This is a departure from my usual ramblings, but one that I think still fits under the “purposeful living” theme:)
Last week I wrapped up my seventh session of facilitating DivorceCare, a support group for people going through divorce and separation. As I was reflecting on past sessions and on my own divorce, I realized that there some mistakes that I see over and over again. These mistakes often end up making the situation worse. However, there are four things you can do to minimize some of the emotional trauma you and your children are facing.
1. Delay making major life decisions. Our emotional energy is on overload and our physical, mental, and spiritual energies are sorely depleted. Unfortunately, this means that our decision-making abilities are impaired as well. What looks like a good decision today may very well turn out to be a disastrous one a few months down the road. Moving to another city or quitting your job may cause more pain in the long run. Particularly if children are involved. However, there are times when major decisions have to be made. Make sure you are brutally honest with yourself as to why you’re making the decision. Is it in the best interests of everybody, or is it a way to get back at your former spouse? A decision made in anger or deep pain can end up causing more harm to you and your family.
2. Take time to heal before getting into another relationship. Bringing your baggage into another relationship can not only cause you more pain, it can hurt your new partner and your children. Take time to heal and learn from your divorce. What were the contributing factors? How much and what do you need to take responsibility for? Being whole, healthy, and happy is the kind of ‘baggage’ you want to take into a new relationship.
3. Be wise with your money. Many times divorce means a significant loss of income. Two incomes have been reduced to one, but you still have many of the same expenses. Take the time to do a budget, be realistic about it, and live within your means. You may need to give up the spa treatments, fishing trips, or the new sports car until your finances stabilize and you can afford it.
4. Above all else, let your children love their other parent. Speak respectfully of your former spouse and his or her family, even if (and especially) if your former spouse is bad mouthing you. Save the fighting for when your children aren’t around. If you are manipulative or disrespectful or treat your children as spies, they can become resentful of you. And you teach them to become manipulative and disrespectful. Be flexible and fair in sharing parenting duties. If a last minute opportunity comes up, let your children go. Don’t be a doormat, but be reasonable, and be happy for your children. You are not competing for their love. They love both of you unconditionally. Do the same for them.
Going through a divorce or separation can bring up feelings of anger, betrayal, bitterness, and unforgiveness. Protect yourself from reacting blindly and protect your children from the fall out of these emotions as much as possible. Practicing these 4 behaviours can help you do just that.
What other suggestions might be helpful for people dealing with divorce or separation?
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