It’s common but always painful: divorce. Even if you were the one who made the decision to end your marriage, you need to take care of yourself. Here are a few tips from someone who has lived through it twice.
Determine whether you need to fight
Divorce papers bring out the fighter in most of us, but if there are no hot issues, such as disputed property division or child custody, set down your boxing gloves. Instead, use the time to understand what has ended and why.
Get an attorney whose personality is the opposite of your own
If you are reasonable and rational, get a maniac. If you are emotional, get someone calm and unflappable. You are a team and teams work better if all perspectives are represented.
Decide your highest priorities
No matter how strong your case, you are not likely to get everything you want. Be sure you know the one or two issues that matter most to you and remind yourself of them every time you talk to your attorney.
Resolve amicably if reasonably possible, even if trial might bring you more
Taking it to the limit has its price; it is certain to put money in lawyers’ pockets and eat up a chunk of your life. Know the inside and outside boundaries of your “fair share” and be willing to settle somewhere near them.
Use a personal spam filter
Your friends and family might think they are doing you a favor by reporting sightings of your soon-to-be ex, but they are not. Whether she/he is seen out on the town with a stunning someone or alone crying, the news is certain to engage your feelings, feelings that should be reserved for helping yourself adjust.
Do not spend “quality time” with your soon-to-be ex
It is astonishing how easy it is to spend time — including night time — with a former spouse. You are lonely; they are familiar. But avoid it in the same way and for the same reasons that you would avoid eating a gallon of ice cream or drinking a bottle of whiskey: the price is brutal.
Get some unconditional love into your life
Dog, cat, even a rabbit or parrot will do. If your life can accommodate a pet, get one. You will have someone to talk to when you are alone, plus an excuse for continuing to say “we”, as in: “We’re staying by the fire this morning.”
Tap into someone else’s life for the interim
The feeling that your life is a catastrophe usually occurs at three in the morning. Keep a great book, or better yet series of books, ready to step in. I used Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta for my first divorce, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch for my second.
Plan a vacation for when it’s over
Whether it’s a cruise down the Nile or a weekend in a nearby city, plan something exciting that you have never done before — it will help you remember that that’s how you want to view the rest of your life.