Too often we worry about the problems divorce will cause. Here are some of the issues and my top tips to overcoming them
The Social Stigma
Society has always liked to push one clear image when it comes to marriage and divorce: that marriage problems are inevitable and that it’s simply a matter of sticking with it and working harder to overcome any issues. But this approach doesn’t address the fact that people and relationships change, and that sometimes the best course of action is to mutually call it quits and move forward to the next chapter.
There is also the sense of shame and failure that comes with the stigma around divorce—that you will lose all your friends, damage existing family relationships, and just generally destroy your sense of self. Women are expected to stay in dead-end marriages to preserve their sense of purpose. Similarly there is little media representation of positive divorce cases, leading to the stereotypical idea that divorce is an angry battlefield. We need more positive representation.
The complexities of Co-Parenting
According to the media and a lot of commentators, amicable co-parenting is a pipe dream. People prefer the image of uncompromising parents whose unhealthy relationship negatively affects their children. However, many divorced celebrity couples openly talk about their healthy approach to co-parenting: Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillipe, Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes. And these real life experiences are great examples of how it can work.
It’s true that co-parenting can be a challenging journey, full of mountains to climb and compromises to make. But none of these problems are made any easier by this overwhelming stigma that it's seemingly impossible for divorced or separated parents to co-parent amicably and successfully.
The crux of building a healthy and respectful co-parenting relationship is open communication, reaching an agreement that puts the emotional needs of the children first, differentiating between the role as a partner and your role as a parent and making it clear that the decision to separate will have a positive effect on all involved.
Financial Effects of Divorce
When people get divorced, often they try to change their image with short-term, costly solutions such as holidays, new wardrobes, going out and socialising and plastic surgery. Whilst these ‘solutions’ can be a temporary distraction from the current situation, not only do they often end up costing a significant amount of money (which can lead to further problems) but they also only serve as a temporary relief from deeper-rooted issues. By doing this, you are only dealing with the symptoms of divorce rather than understanding and treating the underlying issue.
Divorce can be a catalyst for many self-destructive behaviours such as drug/substance abuse and self-harm. It is therefore essential to have the right support during this time so you learn how to look after yourself and make good decisions, be this a divorce coach, therapist or friends. Never be afraid to reach out.
The Fear of Telling Your Family and Friends
Dealing with the people in your life such as your children, friends, and other family members is also hard to navigate without the right support. It can feel challenging and overwhelming to have to deal with a lot of ‘firsts’—telling family and friends and the underlying sense of shame, guilt, and failure that can come with these moments. However, other people’s thoughts are not in your control, but you will always have control over your own actions and perceptions of yourself. Find that strength in yourself. There is more help on how to do this here.
The Cost of Lawyers
Navigating a divorce can also come with the added financial stress of feeling like you must communicate through a lawyer, where prices are high and inaccessible to so many of us.
However, if you were to use a divorce coach, you will help to keep your divorce on the right track, amicable and not end up engaging in damaging approaches.
But divorce coaching can still be pricey which is why Fresh Start (my annual membership programme) is another option. The price per year is LESS than the cost for one session with a private solicitor and you will be receiving a year’s worth of advice.
Why it’s important to not ignore the problems
If you don’t get the right kind of support when going through a divorce, it can lead to a very chaotic and emotionally charged situation. Divorce involves making many important decisions and it’s difficult to make these decisions when you’re not thinking clearly, rationally, and strategically. It’s also very hard to think sensibly without a third-party helping you along the way.
By having the right support, be it a divorce coach or using the Fresh Start programme, you will join a community of people going through similar situations and dealing with the same feelings of guilt and shame. Being part of a community can be a liberating and eye-opening experience, reaffirming that you are not alone and that you are also in more control than you realise.
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Support someone you love at this time in the best way possible.
To change the impact of divorce on families today ad for future generations, we need to change the stigma.
We're constantly being told that divorce is traumatic, stressful, expensive, and painful. But what if there is another way?