Nobody gets into a long-term relationship with the intention of getting divorced, but statistics don’t lie: it’s inevitable that about half of us who say ‘I do’ will end up heartbroken, and arguing about whose family bought those salad forks as a wedding present.
I should know. Not only have I been through a brutal and horrendously dragged out divorce of my own, but now I run Champagne Divorce Club, an Australian first program that helps women navigate their way through their own breakups. I started the club with my best friend Gillian Moody, after her marriage imploded, nearly a year to the day after mine.
We like to say we help women turn their divorces into the best thing that ever happened to them, which sounds pretty wild, but so often we see women rediscover their true selves – often lost in the compromise of a long marriage and parenting – and find their lost spark.
But before you can get to that stage, you need to make it through those traumatic first days of separation.
First, it’s important to know that you CAN absolutely do this. You will find happiness again and you will recover from the heartbreak, financial devastation and shock that you’re in right now if you have just broken up with a long-term partner.
But what you do in those early days can either make this recovery harder or a whole lot easier.
Here are 5 things we at Champagne Divorce Club recommend all women do as soon as possible after their relationship has ended.
- Gather your support crew around you. Now is not the time to shrink back into yourself or hide at home. Tell your friends, your family, your kids’ teachers, your neighbours – anyone that can help – what you’re going through. People are generally good, and they want to help. Tell them what you need. Ask your doctor for a mental health plan and see a psychologist. See a family lawyer and find out what your rights are. Amass your support army – they will make your life so much easier in so many ways.
- Stop worrying about who was right or wrong in your marriage. Is the break up their fault or yours? Doesn’t matter any more. It might sound tough but it’s important to understand that you are on your own and your plans from now on should be about what’s good for you and your children. Whether your ex had an affair, or you were too busy at work, or they lost all your joint savings on the dogs – it no longer matters. Find a way to work through those feelings and let them go, because holding onto them won’t serve you.
- Sit with your feelings. Being afraid to be alone or feel those hurt feelings won’t serve you. Divorce sucks. It’s hard, and it hurts. But drowning your sorrows in a wine bottle, in an online shopping basket, or in any other compulsive method we may use to avoid feelings won’t make them go away. They’ll just make your life harder, and those feelings will still be there waiting for you when you let your guard down. No matter how amicable your break up is, you’re bound to have feelings of failure, loss and vulnerability that will be hard to bear, but if you do, the reward will be that they will ease over time, and you will become emotionally resilient and so incredibly evolved. It’s worth it.
- Love your kids more than you hate your ex. Your kids are going through something huge right now, just like you, but the difference is they understand it less. If you need to vent, or process your feelings about your ex, talk to friends or a psychologist. What your kids need from you right now is love and support and reassurance. Even if their other parent is talking smack about you to your kids or using them to get to you – in fact, especially if that’s the case – be the one to provide comfort and support. Your kids need it and they won’t forget that you were the one who loved them through this.
- Resist any pressure to act now. We see this a lot in women who have been blindsided by their partner having an affair and then moving on quickly – they want to finalise the divorce straight away to get on with their lives, while you’re still reeling. This is super important: you do not have to decide anything straight away. It takes two people to make an agreement, and if you’re not ready to decide on property settlement or custody issues, don’t. Legal processes take time, and you are under no obligation to get things done just because it suits somebody else or they are pressuring you.
We care so deeply about helping women going through the toughest time of their lives, we’ve created a free webinar to help you:
- Stop feeling stuck and powerless
- Feel stronger and not give in to pressure to rush your divorce if you aren’t ready
- Build your support network so you don’t feel so alone
- Protect your kids from unnecessary trauma
You can register to watch it right here.
Remember: the only way is through but the other side is amazing. You’ve got this.
Carolyn Tate is a divorce coach and journalist, and one half of Champagne Cartel, an online community that is all about empowering women to squeeze every bit of goodness out of this one life.