How To Deal With Divorce

Figuring out how to deal with divorce and handling all the emotions that go along with the breakup can leave you exhausted.


Woman stressed from dealing with divorce

Not only do you have to cope with the fact that your marriage is ending, but you also need to decide how everything will be split, who will move out, and a lot more. If you're feeling more than a little overwhelmed right now, the following answers may help you regain some sense control in your life. 

How can I trust my judgment after divorce?

Wendy's Question: My husband of 18 years left last month to be with another woman. He's moved in with this girl, and my son and I are the ones left "holding the bag". I have sold our house and I'm looking for a new house for our son and myself. I feel like I'm in a whirlwind and I'm tired. I don't really want to be anywhere; not in this house, not in a new house, not anywhere. I know I HAVE TO just suck it up and do it for my son's sake (and my own too), but finding the "right stuff" in me right now is not happening. My question to you is, how do I JUST DO IT without making bad judgments? I don't trust myself to do anything right at this moment in time, and I have to make very serious decisions about house buying and money. I'm second guessing every move I make and every thought I have. How can I be sure about anything anymore? My judgment about him was all wrong that's for sure. So how can I trust even me now?!?

Gloria's Answer: Wendy ~ you sound like a very giving, loving, and compassionate person who gives and gives until it hurts! While most of the time we think that is noble, you have given to your husband and your son for so long now that you have nothing left to give. You are exhausted and can't think straight, and believe me, I can totally relate! SO, first and foremost, it is time that you begin to take care of YOU!

As far as the move goes, I see this as your opportunity! Where would YOU like to move? Would you like to like in a small home by the ocean or a lake, or would you prefer to be in a condo downtown? Would you like to have a yard or not have one? What do YOU want? And with the entire world within your grasp, you have the power to stop giving in to what everyone else wants and choose for yourself!

And while you may be arguing that you have a son to consider, know the truth of this - When you are taking care of yourself well, you are taking care of your son, too. You will have much more to give, much more patience and wisdom, much more energy and life, and much more of your gifts and talents. He deserves the best of you!

Along with that, I also hear you questioning your own trust within yourself. If I trusted a man who wasn't to be trusted, what does that say about me? It is a very common thought for women going through a divorce. Yet, the answer to the question isn't that you are stupid, ignorant, blind, or air-headed. You chose to trust your husband, and he blew it big time!

I often encourage my clients to remember that while hindsight in always 20/20, we have to make everyday decisions given the information we have at the time. It is all we can do! So, take some time to consciously ask yourself this: With the information I have right now, what do I know to do? Then do it - no regrets, indecisiveness, or fear. As you go along, you can and you will adjust based on any new information and make new decisions then.

I know this is a challenging time for you, and I also know that this is an opportunity for you to learn again what it means to take care of yourself well, trust yourself, and make wise decisions with no regrets!

How can I handle these emotions and just get over this?

Jamie's Question: I discovered that my husband has been having an affair with someone at work. I've caught him three other times talking to women behind my back and feel that I just can't do this anymore. So I've decided to file for divorce.

He is now acting like he misses me, hates himself for what he's done, says he'll never forgive himself, hasn't talked to the other woman... but I found evidence to contradict this. I feel like an idiot all over again and am worried that I'll never be able to trust another man because I've been hurt so badly. How can I handle these emotions and just get over this?

Gloria's Answer: I wish there was a magic wand that I could give to you and so many other women who have experienced the pain and hurt of infidelity in their marriage to make the pain go away, but there simply isn't one. Infidelity in a marriage is painful and is a completely selfish act on the part of the offender. It stinks!

And while we can find ourselves crying and bewildered and lost, I want to encourage you that while this feels really awful, you can get beyond this and you can learn to trust again. To begin, you've got to trust yourself. So many times, as you mentioned, we feel like the idiot for not seeing the signs earlier. We blame ourselves for trusting someone who couldn't be trusted, and we doubt the evidence we do find and wonder if we are just making a mountain out of a molehill. You are wiser now - trust yourself.

Then gather around you all of the support you can from people you already know and trust who will continue to look out for your best interest. They will be full of advice and ideas, for sure, and when in doubt, go back to the first step.

Jamie, I love that you are standing up for yourself, pulling your head out of the sand, and are ready to face the challenge of creating the life you want. Learn to really trust yourself first, and all the other pieces will begin to fall into place once again -including when it comes time to choose someone new.

How do I fill the void so that I don't feel so lonely?

Donna's Question: My biggest problem is trying to fill the void I feel. I am not ready for dating but have done it several times. I was rejected both times, which hurts me in more ways than one because of my emotional instability. I am lonely, especially when the kids are not with me. How do I fix this the right way?

Gloria's Answer: I am so glad that you asked, Donna! So many of us long to "fill the void" either during or after a divorce. We long to find something to do with ourselves. We crave ways to find fulfillment, joy, and fun again. We hunger for the man (or woman) who we know is out there waiting for us who will ultimately fill that void, and when we do not meet that person right away, we reel in pain again, doubt ourselves, and look for something else outside of ourselves. 

The truth - only we have the power to fill the void. Only we have the power to know what it means to love ourselves. What does that mean? It means learning to get comfortable in your own skin. Are you happy with how you look and feel? If not, now is the time to do something about it! It means exploring your own spirituality. Do you pray, go to church, read? If not, take the time to explore this side of yourself. It means developing all different kinds of relationships around you. Do you have friends that you'd love to go to lunch with, walk with, shop with, invite over? If not, call them up and get some things on your calendar to look forward to.

Healthy relationships are made when two healthy people come together not to "fill the void", but to expand the love that is already within them.

Helping your child heal after divorce when your ex is making it difficult

Michele's Question: My ex-husband and I were married for ten years and have been divorced for two months. We have a seven year old son. I have done everything to try to make the transition to our new home a good experience for my son, and at first, he seemed to be adjusting well. Now though, he seems to be angry with me a lot and for no specific reason. I know his father cries in front of him and will blatantly tell him that he is upset over the divorce. I have explained the situation to my son, in terms he can understand at seven, but the situation seems to be getting worse.

He never used to ask for his father at all, now he is constantly wanting to be with him and seems to care less if he is with me at all. I don't want to keep him from his father, so I let him go. What can I do to continue a positive relationship with my son when I have no control over what his father is doing or saying, or the guilt I know he is laying on our child? I have tried to explain this to my ex, but he is somewhat of a child himself and doesn't listen to reason. How do you help your child get through a divorce when one parent is making it difficult?

Gloria's Answer: Every child responds to divorce differently. I have 4 children, and each one handled it in their own way. My oldest did get angry - very angry. My next one was sad. The next one seemed oblivious to the whole ordeal and only wanted to know how this was going to affect him. My littlest looked around and tried to decide which one of the reactions she was going to choose from those modeled for her. She also shared one day that she worried a lot. When she was with me, she worried about her Dad, and when she was with her Dad, she worried about me. It's a lot to take on, and picking sides at that age is impossible.

I will tell you what I told my littlest. I encouraged her to stop worrying about me and her Dad. Yes, the divorce is hard and sometimes we do cry and are upset about what we are going through, but we will both be okay. We are both grown-ups and we can take care of ourselves and you. When you are with me, I want you to be with me. When you are with your Dad, I want you to be with your Dad. We both love you. We will always be there for you, and you just need to focus in on being seven!

My guess is that the anger really isn't being aimed at you even though you may be getting the brunt of it. Talk to him. Find out what he is really angry about, and don't try to guess or blame it on his Dad. Be careful not to roll your eyes, huff, and/or sigh when he tells you that his Dad was crying or whatever. Your little one needs only to see the very best in you - to see that you listen, you love, and you will always be there for him.

As far as the Dad goes, give him time. 2 months isn't very long, and time heals a lot of wounds. You'll get through this!