I was talking to this woman the other day whose husband cheated on her, and then left she and their children. She described what she was going through; the shock, hurt, betrayal, the affects financially and, of course, on her children. As I listened to her story, my heart went out to her. I could see the pain in her eyes and face and I could hear the sadness and disbelief in her voice. After she was done describing what she had been going through, she leaned forward and asked, ” when does it get better?”
Well, that is a difficult question to answer. I suppose there is a calculation out there, a ratio of how many years it takes to recover to how many years you were married, but everyone is different and their experience is subjective. I wanted to give her an answer that would make her feel better, but I couldn’t. I shared with her that recovering after the break up of a long-term marriage can take years. The good news, however, was that she was doing a lot of the right things to help her cope. She was in therapy, getting support through her church, and seeking and accepting help from friends and family. She was also spending and cherishing time with her children.
In addition to the coping mechanisms that this woman employed, it’s also important to make time for yourself to have some fun, some “me” time, or you are liable to begin feeling resentful. When you are going through a divorce, you are experiencing a tremendous amount of stress. You need to take a step away from it at times to exhale, get a different perspective, and get centered. This break can help you feel a bit more energized and refreshed, reassured that you are still capable of having fun, and helps to avoid gaining a myopic perspective of your situation.
It’s also important to avoid judging yourself. Some days are going to be better than others and there are times when you are going to feel happy, sad, mad and glad all in one day…or even in one hour. Accept all of your feelings as normal as you travel through the grieving process.
Going through a divorce is not easy, but you can move through and past it as millions of others have. Don’t be afraid to seek help, accept support, and take periods of time for yourself. Be open to seeing a therapist especially if you are feeling very depressed or are employing maladaptive ways of coping such as routinely drinking an excessive amount of alcohol. Also, do spend time with your children, as they are going through a very difficult time as well. Remember, they are looking to you as a model for how to get through this time. You need to keep your attitude and outlook as positive as possible and refrain from saying negative things about the other parent. Children need to feel safe and cared for. You need to assure them that everything is going to be ok, and that you and them will move through this time and enjoy a new and different life together.