Divorce is a painful experience for many families, and it can create a great amount of stress for everyone involved. One spouse may not want the divorce. If you have children together, this certainly creates stress for them. How can we deal with the stress of this experience?
You can expect a lot of strong emotions during the process of a divorce, probably ranging from positive to negative emotions. There may be some feelings of happiness or relief, and there will certainly be feelings of sadness, guilt, anger, and grief. Below are 8 tips for handling these emotions and the overall stress of divorce.
Recognize and respond to your emotions. It is normal to experience many different emotions. Find someone whom you trust and whom you can turn to for support and encouragement during this season.
Identify what routines need to change and what can stay the same.For children, routines and consistency are very helpful. Divorce is a big change, so take time to identify what that impact in life (finances, childcare, bedtime routines) and try to find areas for consistency.
Don’t rush into hasty or emotional decisions. There will probably be moments when you want to act in a certain way to hurt your ex-spouse, or to relieve your own pain or stress in an unhealthy way. This is not the time for new relationships, expensive purchases, or big life changes.
Keep your eyes focused on Jesus. Many people in the church who go through a divorce feel isolated and alone. But this is a time when you need more Bible, more prayer, more encouragement, and more community, not less. Cling to God’s Word and rest in his faithful presence. Pray to him with lament, requests, and praises.
Take care of yourself. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and spending time with loved ones. Your physical body is important, and it is much easier to endure a season of high stress if we are physically healthy. Do things that make you laugh and relax.
Resist the urge to isolate and withdraw from others. There are probably people in your life who are supporting and encouraging you, and there may be others who are critical or whose presence feels draining to you right now. Again, this is a time for more community, not less. Spend time with people whom you love.
Stay busy, but include time for rest and emotional processing. There is a lot of paperwork and change involved in divorce, and it will be helpful to stay active and to fill your time with meaningful activities. It may hurt to be alone, but it is important to allow your body, mind, and heart time to rest and process what is happening.