HOW TO COPE AFTER THE TRAUMA OF DIVORCE
There is no doubt that the current divorce rate is extremely high. This not only has a tremendous impact on the couple that goes through the divorce themselves, but it also has a great impact on those closest to them. Such an event causes a sudden change in the family dynamic, the children struggle to accept their new reality of their parents separating and relationships might be affected in cases where couples share mutual friends. These are but a few issues mentioned that may be caused by the impact of divorce and some may struggle to recover from this trauma. With this article, I aim to focus on how to be able to move forward from this traumatic experience and not allow the effects of divorce to influence your daily functioning and current relationships with others.
Before covering the topic of the trauma that divorce holds, it is important to realize that every story leading up to such a decision is different. The reality is as couples get married, they never plan for this to happen or even consider it as an option. There might be multiple reasons that have caused one to take such a drastic decision.
No matter the circumstances, almost every couple has a desire to fight for their marriage, but some believe that the problems they face are unsolvable and that they will never be able to overcome it. If these problem areas include arguments about different communication styles, financial struggles, lack of intimacy, not providing in one another’s emotional needs, etc. the best option is always to seek professional support first and determine if some of these areas are indeed solvable with the right support, guidance and methods.
But then some cases involve much more complex problems, such as a partner who is physically or emotionally abusive, and a danger to the family or compulsive lying and infidelity that takes place within the marriage.
It is important to realize that if one partner is willing to work on the marriage and the other is completely reluctant to change, unable to acknowledge the effect of their behaviour and unwilling to work on the relationship there is not much that can be done to move forward. The partner who is willing to work on the relationship should realize that they will never be able to change their partner and their behaviour unless it is a joint effort within the relationship.
In cases where all possibilities have been depleted and a divorce is inevitable, there are many emotions to work through. Some of these might include rejection, anxiousness, loneliness, grief, guilt and so much more. Sometimes it seems as though the easier option is to push these feelings aside and to go on with life. But this new reality can ultimately lead to much deeper hurt and distress if not dealt with as soon as possible.
The first step to recovery involves grieving the loss of the relationship (Either it being parents who decided that it is best to separate or a marriage that did not work). Some individuals experience a sense of fear that once they start grieving this loss, these feelings might be too overwhelming for them. It is important to realize that once you experience these emotions, you will be able to work towards a future that involves healing, happiness, and hope despite the current circumstances.
One of the ways we can express our emotions is to confide in a close family member or a friend that you can trust. A trusted support system is crucial in times such as this as they will be able to help and encourage you when you need it most. In cases where a person feels uncomfortable sharing their emotions with friends or family members, a counsellor or a support group will provide individuals with a safe space as they share their personal experiences. The reality is, trying to work through traumatic events on our own prevents us from noticing the emotional and physical effects it might have on our life. Not only will the support of others give you a sense of relief, but they will be able to monitor your process of healing and encourage you to seek further assistance if it seems like no positive progress is being made.
Other than having a great support system, being conscious of leading a healthy lifestyle especially during such circumstances is a very important coping strategy. Some of these healthy lifestyle choices include eating healthy, exercising regularly and going to bed early to get enough sleep. Not only will you feel better, but it will also help with problems such as overeating, loss of sleep, loss of appetite and decreasing feelings of depression. It should be acknowledged that it takes time to get over the trauma and in instances where insomnia, loss of appetite, constant sadness and lack of concentration persist for long periods, medical advice should be sought.
Lastly, you must allow yourself to trust others again although under such circumstances we tend to do the total opposite. The importance of this decision Is if we hold onto these feelings of distrust it will eventually affect all the other relationships that we have. Either it being romantic or even just a new friendship. Therefore, shifting the perspective from your previous partner (or shifting your perspective from the divorce of your parents) to establishing a newfound trust in others, in yourself, forgiveness and hope in all circumstances are crucial to be able to cope with the pain of divorce.