If you are going through, are considering or have recently gone through a divorce, then you understand already that the emotional toll it takes feels, at times, insurmountable. Sure, you may go to work, or continue to try to enjoy the things that you used to, but it doesn’t feel the same. There can also be feelings of guilt if you are enjoying yourself.
The fact of the matter is that ending a marriage is no easy feat for anyone and it takes a lot longer to get divorced than it does to get married.
In most cases, people have spent many years coming to the conclusion that divorce is the best choice for their marriage and by the time that has happened the emotional and psychological affect is already substantial. Once the practical aspects of getting a divorce are set into motion we may not have the capacity to handle them all on our own, nevermind think about what we will do once the divorce is finalized, the house is sold and the finances are separate. In fact, it can often be that inability to forecast which can land you in a position where you realize that you may not have made the best financial decisions or you have compromised on things that are important to you.
We wanted to share some wisdom about how to prepare yourself, both emotionally and financially for life after a divorce.
Divorce is a transition that requires the adjustment and management of expectations, and that must be respected. For example, we know that your energy level changes during times of major life change, and that there are transition skills you can develop to minimize the impact of your internal changes. Rest, which sounds easy enough to do and sounds like the obvious solution to fatigue, might not be so easy to achieve and might actually have to be worked on. If you don’t, your exhaustion can negatively affect everything from your health to your decision-making, and the results can be irreparable and life altering. But we haven’t been conditioned to focus on what it takes to move through transitions. As a result, we concentrate on the concrete, countable side of money. Take the Sudden Money1 Transition Fatigue Self-Assessment to see how you are doing mentally and physically and get tips from the experts on how to make the transition more comfortable and productive.
“Neuroscience has proven that how you use your mind can change your brain for better or worse. If, in the midst of divorce, your mind keeps resting on the loss you feel, or anger or sadnes or pain, your neural networks that help you feel loss are being strengthened and feeling those particular emotions can become habitual.”2
Practicing mindfulness or meditation can be extremely helpful in helping people in transition to maintain a positive outlook, stabilize their moods and improve their willpower.
REMEMBERING WHAT YOU LIKE
Sometimes we spend so much time thinking about what our spouse or our family likes, we forget to put our likes first, second or even third. Perhaps your spouse didn’t like olives so you never cooked with them, even though you love them. Make a puttanesca then next time you cook dinner. Sensory memories and taste buds have a great deal to do with our moods and emotions, so making those new changes can help a lot with transition and reinvesting in ourselves as individuals.
Creating a Bliss List of the things you like can help you gain perspective on how you might like to spend your time and money in your life after marriage. Consider what makes you feel happy and fulfilled. If you have children you can ask them to help you too. Family time may feel different for them for a while since it will mostly be spent with either one of their parents, but not all together anymore. Making a list and then planning activities around what you like to do can be an uplifting exercise for all of you.
DISCOVER OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH
Marital partners tend to lose themselves throughout the course of their marriage. People can stop growing individually, and merge into one another’s lives so much it is hard to see where one might begin and the other ends. While this can be beautiful and indicative of the strength of bonds that marriage can bring, it can be difficult to transition out of this in the event of divorce. Our suggestion is to try to discover opportunities for growth in areas of your life that did not include your partner.
If you have been working in the same position in your career and you have ambition to try something new in your company, you might want to look into opportunities for new positions or promotions. If you have been practicing Vinyasa Yoga for many years, perhaps try Bikram for an added challenge. If you have been cooking more for function rather than pleasure for a lot of years, but you used to enjoy it, try a cooking class or a service called Blue Apron. Blue Apron delivers fresh ingredients to your door and provides simple and exciting seasonal recipes from renowned chefs. If you own your own business and you have been putting off adding a new service or product, now could be the time to explore the planning process.
These types of behaviors can give you self-esteem, empower you to feel reinvested in your own self worth and take your mind off of the emotional challenges that come with divorce.
BUILD A HISTORICAL SPENDING PLAN AND CREATE ONE FOR YOUR NEW LIFE
Keeping a record of income and expenses during a divorce is extremely important because it is what provides a proof of the standard of living that was maintained during your marriage, however this documentation also can help you realistically build a new spending plan to live realistically within your own means post-divorce.
Your new spending plan will obviously need to include all of your necessary expenses and ensure that it can accommodate those as well as a sound savings plan. What it also may help you do is eliminate some items from your old budget that weren’t “your expenses” and replace them with some things that you’d like to spend money on. Was there a trip that your spouse never wanted to go on? Was there a class you wanted to take, but never got around to it? Is there something that you’d like to plan for you and your child(ren) to do together? Putting together a realistic spending plan can help you think about the future and align your spending with your new priorities.
It is never easy to make your way through a difficult life transition, such as divorce. We hope some of the thoughts and tools that we shared above will help you transition more successfully. Relying on the support of friends, loved ones and those you trust can make all the difference.
At Northstar Financial Planning, we have achieved the Certified Financial TransitionistSM expertise necessary to help people navigate the emotional and financial sides of transition, allowing them to make good long-term decisions with an increased sense of well-being and confidence.
1. About Sudden Money: To further enhance our specialization in transitional life and financial planning, we augment our role as Sudden Money advisors with the Sudden Money Institute’s targeted program for women in transition: Women, Meaning and Money. Inaugurating this important service in 2011, Northstar offers workshops that lead women along a path to help them move past personal barriers, and gain confidence and control in their financial lives. The program is offered in both a series of select, small-group meetings as well as private, one-on-one sessions.
For More information Visit www.suddenmoney.com