Last month our post covered legal and personal strategies for getting through divorce. This month we’ll cover some post-divorce strategies for self-care and family care. Good news: these two parts of the divorce process tap some of the same skills, so if you’re following last month’s advice, you’re ahead of the game.
If you have children, restoring damaged relations with them is your number 1 goal. By “damage” I don’t mean the trauma children suffer if their parents’ divorce is overtly ugly or the children are pawns in it. I mean the kind of damage that occurs when a child feels abandoned, and any child whose parents divorce feels that way, consciously or subconsciously, at least initially. If you are not the custodial parent, make special efforts to communicate with your child. You may schedule a nightly phone call, or maybe you want to text. Your communication is action, and action speaks louder than words in reassuring your child at this emotionally vulnerable time. Letters and gifts are nice too, but will not carry the day without personal communication.
Therapy may be appropriate for some children (and maybe for you!). Children’s therapy may be with you or without you, with siblings or without. If you aren’t sure whether therapy is needed or not, a psychological evaluation can guide you as to whether and what kind of professional help is optimal and may help you locate appropriate service providers.
For yourself, relocation can be an option, especially if there are no minor children. The comfort and support of family and friends can be immensely helpful if you are willing to accept it. If these human resources are to be found in the location where you grew up, you may want to consider that community.
Economic independence is important. You may see advantage in further education or certification. A divorced spouse who during the marriage was a stay-at-home parent may need additional education to enter or re-enter the job market. The education environment may be online or in person. Either way, you’ll have opportunities to connect with others who can, whether or not they know they are doing so, help you recover a sense of self and confidence that may have waned.
Get involved with your community. Depending on your background, you may wish to tutor language, math or data skills that are important in our digital world. You can volunteer in a church or synagogue, or donate to a charity of your choice. Both are ways to connect with people whose interests parallel yours, building a new, solid network either in addition to what you already have or replacing it.
Finally — and this is really just common sense — you need to exercise and eat well. You may be divorced but you’re not necessarily out of the woods. Sound nutrition and exercise help maintain emotional as well as physical balance.
Divorce is rugged whether you admit it or not. The period during divorce is a time to assess your economic and emotional needs. The period following divorce is a time to address them.
Leonard Klein, the author of this post, is a matrimonial lawyer at Lazar Schwartz & Jones, LLP.