When recovering from divorce, it is just as smart to avoid doing the wrong things as it is to do the right things. One poor decision can be a major setback on the road to recovery. Here are six things you want to avoid:
After a divorce, you are very vulnerable. And who wouldn’t be? You have probably spent the last year or two (maybe even longer) hearing all the bad things about yourself from someone you committed your life — and your heart — to. It is so tempting to seek out relationships with the opposite sex to reaffirm that you are attractive, interesting and lovable. Avoid this.
Invariably, what starts out as something so innocent — “It is just a cup of coffee, right?!” — ends up becoming a full-on dating relationship. It is never a good idea to begin dating until you have recovered from your divorce (and received an annulment). You are too vulnerable to be able to make sound choices. Your motivations tend to be about undoing some wrong from your past, or assuaging some pain from your divorce. Healthy relationships are those where your motivations are to give, not to get. It is best to avoid any situations that will distract you from the work of healing yourself.
2. Complaining on Social Media
When we go through a divorce, we tend to want to gather as many allies around us as possible. With the advent of social media, reaching out for support has never been easier. One click and you can rally your posse around you. That’s fine as long as it is not at the expense of your former spouse. Just as it is so easy on social media to reach out to hundreds (or even thousands) with one click, it is just as easy to keep a hot war raging between you and your spouse.
Your recovering from divorce ultimately is determined by your accepting the circumstances of your divorce. A big part of this acceptance comes from forgiving those that hurt you the most. Forgiving is difficult enough in the best of circumstances. It is almost impossible when you are trading insults and complaints for the entire World-Wide-Web to see. Reserve any complaints or insults for the privacy of your journal, not Facebook.
3. Putting Kids in the Middle
As mentioned in the blog article, Your Kids, it is critically important to avoid creating unnecessary anxiety for your children. Many times you many not even realize you are doing it. Here are a couple of seemingly innocent ways that you can ramp up anxiety for your children:
- Asking them probing questions when they return from the other parent. Children are much more sensitive to this tactic than you realize. They will usually get very defensive when the questions get specific about the other parent. They naturally want to protect the other parent and will push back.
Using your children as a go-between. It is never a good idea to have your children communicate for you with their other parent. This puts them squarely in the middle and may expose them to issue or situations that are uncomfortable, possibly even emotionally harmful, for them. The best policy is for you to communicate directly with your former spouse and take the kids out of the middle.
Using the kids as pawns. There is nothing more cowardly than to use innocent children to pressure or manipulate the other parent into getting what you want. If you are using your children like pieces in a chess game to put pressure on the other parent, or to get your way, stop. Kids see right through this. No one, not even a little kid, likes to be used.
4. Alcohol or Drugs
Let’s face it, divorce is hell. It tends to wring all enjoyment out of your life for a period of time, making it hard just to relax. Having an occasional glass of wine is no big deal. It becomes a big deal when that occasional glass of wine becomes a requirement to relax, get some sleep, or escape emotional pain.
The same is true for drugs. Of course, illegal drugs are never a good idea. Prescription drugs should only be used under the guidance of your doctor. If you are having trouble sleeping, you may want to consider melatonin. It is natural and not habit forming. You may purchase it at any nutrition center, drug store, and most grocery stores.
The emotional pain of divorce makes you vulnerable. What started out as something simply to get over a rough spot, can quickly get out of your control. It is always best to avoid alcohol and drugs when you are in emotional pain.
5. Making Hasty Decisions
When your life is in turmoil, it is not a good time to be making any type of long-term, serious decisions. If possible, decisions such as job changes, relocating, or spending large sums of money, should wait until the storm of divorce has subsided. If it is not possible, you should proceed slowly and with the advice of someone you trust.
People who have your best interests at heart and know you well are excellent resources to help you discern significant changes. Your parents, a brother or sister, a counselor, or a life-long friend, are all good options. The bottom line: you should avoid making hasty decisions during the year or two of your divorce except maybe when it comes to what type of latte to order at Starbucks. 🙂
6. Frivolous Spending
The daily burden of carry the cross of divorce can become overwhelming. It is natural to seek relief from this pain. However, sometimes we can seek relief in ways that can come back to haunt us. Frivolous spending is one of them.
Distractions can help give us relief from our pain. They take our mind off of our problems and can bring us a moment or two of peace that we desperately need. When these distractions involve spending money, we should be extra cautious. Shopping till we drop can certainly take our mind of our immediate pain; however, it can also leave us with a long term financial hangover as we struggle to pay for our excursions.
As a general rule, avoid shopping (at the mall or online) to escape the reality of your divorce. The is especially true if you are taking on credit card debt or spending money budgeted for other purposes. While it might feel good in the moment, in the longterm, it will leave you feeling worse as you struggle to pay for your momentary weakness.
An Ounce of Prevention…
Benjamin Franklin’s words: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” ring so true when recovering from divorce. It is so easy to justify doing something in an effort to find some relief from the immense challenges of divorce. Yet, that one act or decision can create so many more problems than the one you trying to resolve. Avoiding these six pitfalls can help you recover more quickly by significantly lessening the chances of making mistakes that will saddle you with long term pain and regret.
Question: What has been the biggest pitfall you have faced? How have you been able to overcome it?
© 2016, Vince Frese