On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Divorce on Wednesday, April 16, 2014
We see it every day. A potential client calls with a minor issue regarding the custody schedule and wants to go back to court. An old client calls and describes some difficulty following the holiday schedule in the Parenting Plan, and the former spouse stated, “If you don’t like it, take me back to court!” In both situations, a non-issue threatens to become new litigation, and it has nothing to do with the law, but the heart and the mind.
We have noted often how difficult dissolving a marriage can be physically, emotionally, psychologically and financially. But we do not talk enough about how for many the post-divorce reality seems a continuation of the battle rather than a “new” start. After all the fighting, how does one just…stop and move on?
The post-divorce healing process has no magic cure, but we can suggest five tips that we have seen very helpful to getting past high conflict as the norm.
Let go. While a divorce untangles a marriage from a legal standpoint, emotionally you find yourself still attached. You may still have unresolved issues, or harbor resentments. Those feelings are perfectly normal. Clinging to them, while also common, is not healthy. In order to be able to move on to a post-divorce life without replaying old arguments like in the movie “Groundhog Day,” you need to simply let go of all the negative emotions. You must accept that a new stage in your life has begun, whether you feel prepared or not. One cannot walk forward chained to the past. You will be surprised how free you feel when you do let go of the pain of the marriage and the separation. You may not have answers and enlightenment, but you will have emotional distance. You will no longer feel anger or even hate eating away at your insides.
Embrace your new autonomy. Obviously, during a marriage both spouses have to work to make decisions together or deal with the emotional fallout of feeling excluded or minimized. After divorce, it may seem strange not to continue to have the same power plays and you may be tempted to fall back into old habits and look for a fight. Rather than think about past lack of power, thing about present hold on power – over your life and your future. Divorce happened because your marriage did not work; now you can push past dysfunction and happily create the world you want, one that satisfies you emotionally, socially, and professionally.
Resist seeing ghosts. As in many a Bruce Springsteen song, you may find yourself on a familiar road or in a familiar restaurant, and you begin to think back…to how awful that last time with your spouse was in that place! Try not to let yourself become haunted by the past. You likely still live in the same town and you cover the same grounds, but now as a single individual. If you have children, you will experience even more of these moments. One way to not see these painful ghosts is to intentionally go to some of these places and have some fun new experiences to replace the old memories. In time, the feeling of being haunted by the past will fade and the future will not seem so scary.
Take stock of why your marriage ended. In order to move forward and have healthy relationships in the future, you need to come to terms with what made your marriage fall apart. Every situation is unique, so we cannot list that for you. But we can encourage you to undertake that self-analysis and reach a new level of understanding so that you do not leave yourself open to the same pitfalls that hurt your marriage. What you discover will also help you deal with your former spouse in a healthier, less heated fashion in the future.
Take care of yourself. You may be surprised at the toll the downward spiral of your marriage and divorce took on you and your body and your mind. Give yourself a divorce makeover – decide that you want to feel and look better. Start working out. Change your wardrobe. Change your diet. Take time for you and have some fun.
In order to be a good former spouse, particularly if you are co-parenting, you need to move past all that pain, and following these five steps will definitely help point you in the positive direction. You will find yourself not jumping on every small flaw and turning an irritation into a potential motion to modify. You will settle into the pace of life after divorce (yes, there is one).
If you have questions about divorce, contact our St. Louis divorce attorneys – we can help.