Managing Emotions During Divorce

Let’s admit the obvious: divorce is hard. No one gets married with the intention of getting divorced. We all imagine “happily ever after” but even the best of marriages have rough times. Some recover and others wind up in our office. And that’s hard. But it doesn’t have to be devastating. You can do this. And we work hard to ensure you enter your post-divorce life in the best possible position for success.  As experienced divorce attorneys, we can help you understand and manage your emotions while going through the process and make sure you stay focused on your goals.  

Acknowledge Your Feelings – Then Take Control

The worst thing you can do is “fake it.” Admit your feelings, but don’t wallow in them or give up hope. Ruminating – your mind racing over and over on the same issues, problems, or events – is really unhealthy and doesn’t help the situation. Even though you think you’re trying to figure things out, you’re actually making things worse. 

You do need to think things through, but do it on paper. Whatever you’re thinking about, whether they be the “what if” situations or the roadblocks that your soon-to-be-ex is putting up, write them out. Then think of the worst-case scenarios. Consider what you could do about them and what questions you have for your attorney. That’s progress; that’s figuring things out. And that should help you sleep better because you’ve taken control of the situation. 

During the divorce process, you will also experience feelings of frustration with your partner. Maybe s/he is being difficult, they are a narcissist, or it is a marriage ending due to addiction or domestic violence. In these situations, it is never a good idea to deal directly with your spouse, but it is important to deal with your emotions. As our partner Diana Schimmel recommends “write a letter to your spouse that you will never send. If you need to “send” it to someone, you can send it to me.” In this way, Diana helps her client process their emotions in a safe and healthy way while protecting the legal proceedings by not throwing gasoline on a fire.  

Daydream about the Right Things

Reliving old memories, good or bad, can make you feel worse. If you keep reliving the bad times over and over you’ll be keeping yourself trapped in those times, and those situations or people will continue to have power over you. If you go back in your mind to the beginning when you were “so happy together” you’ll be mourning a death. Yes, divorce is, in a sense, a death of those dreams. But they’re gone now and you’re still alive. You have your whole life ahead of you. So let’s take control and daydream about that, instead.

Make plans for the future. Do you have kids? Plan fun things with them (keeping your budget in mind if money is tight). But dream about things for yourself as well: a hobby you want to pick up, a promotion you want to shoot for, a home decorating project you’ve been wanting to tackle. These are short-term dreams you can start with. Then, when you’re ready, dream big for the future. Shoot for the moon, and as the saying goes, if you miss, you’ll still be among the stars. 

Last year we helped a client with a very difficult divorce and she used “future thinking” to get through the process. She worked very hard at concentrating on what her life was going to look like in a year rather than drowning in all that was going on. Diana Schimmel managed the legal aspects so her client could stay focused on her goal of ending the marriage and start building her future as soon as possible.  

Talk to the Right People

Don’t call your attorney with every new problem that arises with your ex. Not every problem can be solved by a lawyer, and a higher legal bill will probably add to your stress.

Before picking up that phone and running up your attorney bill, check with friends, a relative, or a support group. Do they have some advice that might help you resolve this issue? Usually, people who love you and support you can look at things from the outside, respond less emotionally, and give you some logical, reasoned advice without the emotional baggage. 

This, by the way, is something you should learn to do for yourself. When you’re beating yourself up for something, or you’re angry at your spouse, try to pull yourself out of the equation and pretend it’s happening to someone else. Looking at the situation as an observer, ask yourself: “why is this person reacting this way? Is that accurate or reasonable? Is there a better response or solution?” This allows you to look at things more rationally. You’ll pick up the phone less often and you’ll empower yourself more when you take these steps first. If, after trying these exercises, you determine you still need to talk to your attorney, pick up the phone. Your attorney will always be willing to help you. 

You may determine that talking to your friends, support group, or attorney isn’t enough and you need some counseling as well. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to get the help you need to navigate the divorce process and come out the other side emotionally and physically healthy and strong and ready for a successful, joy-filled life ahead.

Let Us Help

If you’re ready to pick up the phone and contact attorneys who understand your needs, call us today. We are here to help you manage the divorce process in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.