Practical Tips For Men - Getting Your Head Around Divorce and Separation
By Neil Millar
Being logical creatures, us men like to know what's what. We like to know where and when. We like to stay in control and keep things in check... especially our emotions. So there's nothing quite like a divorce or separation to shake a guy's world to the foundations.
How do we handle things?
Our first impulse is to get ourselves in check. If our partner has left us, we want them to think we're okay, even when in reality we're falling apart at the seems. We may still want her back and we think there's half a chance, so the trick has to be to tell her we're okay, or "Getting our head around things". But there are three things with this approach...
First, in truth you're probably not okay. Woman are experts in the art of seeing right through us. If you try the above approach and fail she's going to doubt you. First thing you shoot here is her trust on what comes out of your mouth. Now she'll doubt things you say and for good reason.
Second, if she's left you, there's a reason. Chances are she's not coming back, whatever trickery we try. And if she did come back, what then... she's there on false pretences, either because she feels sorry for you, is confused or manipulated.
So, don't tell her your getting your head around things. Even if you think you are. Because you're probably not. What you are getting your head around is that something that has been familiar for years is gone. Chances are your divorce will involve children. They'll probably be left behind and you'll miss them too and you now have a divorce to handle, plus your job and the worries about the future, juggling a mortgage, paying for your kids and somehow starting all over again. Truth is it hurts like hell and you're struggling to pull your act together.
When I went through my divorce an old friend told me that divorce was like a roller coaster ride you couldn't get off. It sounded funny at the time, but pretty soon I knew what he meant. My emotions went up and down. For several months I felt like a manic depressive.
I'd have moments where I felt I was getting things sorted. I felt like life was moving on and I was "Getting my head around things," then out of the blue, and often for no particular reason, I'd slump - depressed or exhausted. Basically I'd burnt out.
One of the things I found hardest was turning my brain off. It would go around and around with things I needed to sort out. It might be something I thought of after a conversation with my ex or a friend. it might be something I had to tell my solicitor. And most often... and most annoyingly, these things would come up just at the moment where I had dozed off. Ping I was wide awake and ready to go again.
At work things would go around in my head too. At the time I worked up ladders. I'd be up there and suddenly I'd have a bubble of emotions well up. When you're fourteen feet up in the air that is a bit inconvenient. Once or twice the stress and emotion got too much and blacked out - which is more inconvenient.
There were several occasions when I had to give up and go home. The problem was being self-employed with solicitors fees and a mortgage to still pay, you can't afford too much of it. So the stress actually mounted even more.
Of course your circumstances, your separation, your work, your situation with kids, will be different to mine. But two things will be the same: You will have emotions and you will have the practical issues of life to get in order. Below you'll find my simple times.
1. Resist the urge to call her and tell her anything. If you have children you have to see them, do it out of the house and away from your ex. Go to your parents, a friends, the park anywhere, but where your ex is. And get away from ASAP. Reason being the longer your in her company the more you'll miss her or tell her rubbish like, "Your getting your head around things.
2. Make sure you go for a walk every evening, around 2-3 hours before you go to bed. The fresh air and the physical movement will help lift your spirits and you may actually begin to resolve things while your walking.
3. Twice a day, sit in silence for 5-15 minutes. Focus on your breathing, expand your stomach as you breath in, contract it as you breath out. Thoughts will come and go. Acknowledge them and write them down if they are persistent. Then get back to focusing on your breathing. This is good for relieving stress, both on the brain and the body.
4. Consider mediation, coaching or councilling. This way you can resolve the nitty-gritty such as who has the crystal vase and who pays the mortgage and for how long, plus how you share the lives of little Johnny and Jane. Go to mediation to arrive at a fair understanding of how you dissolve things. Get coaching on how you move forward in your life and how you can both work effectively with your kids. Go for councilling if you are unable to resolve your own issues. Later, when you get involved again you might want to look at what's on offer for step parents.
5. Use your solicitor sparingly. Try to avoid mud slinging. Try to avoid Court. It costs a fortune. Settle the divorce as quickly and simply as possible. Be aware if you get into haggling over something worth less than several thousand, it might well cost you more that that value in legal fees. You'd be better off buying a new one and sparing yourself any bad feelings. Having said that, don't be walked all over. Be clear on what's fair. Be prepared to give and take in the negotiation. Listen to the advice your given. You're paying for it.
6. During all the confusion and reorganising things please consider that in every challenge, there is an opportunity for growth. Look for your opportunity.
About the Author
Neil Millar is a coach for divorcing and separating dads. Find out more at http://www.neilmillar.net
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