When you’re dressed in a waterfall of white, pledging “til death do us part” in front of your friends and family, you couldn’t imagine that life could be any better than it is in that instant. All of your hopes, dreams, and goals are laid out before you; the hand that lies in yours contains your future—far-reaching and filled with beautiful moments.
And then one day that future changes.
As a family law attorney, I find clients spend as much time in my office contemplating the division of their assets as they do envisioning their now unknown future. They are scared, worried, dejected about the end of their relationship. They are angry that “I do” turned into “I don’t anymore.” They are unsure if there really is a life for them after their divorce.
Want to know a secret? There is life.
When you’re struggling through the end of your relationship, remember the following:
1. Aside from a good attorney, the best weapon a person could have at her disposal during a divorce is her support system. Family, friends, and even co-workers could be there for you in all capacities, assisting you emotionally, physically, and even financially, if necessary. The biggest mistake that I see clients make is not letting others in; not accepting the help that is often so willingly offered. The people who love you WANT to help you in whatever capacity they are able. Let them; it doesn’t make you weak, and it doesn’t mean you are a burden. Be thankful that you have the support that you do—and use it. I guarantee the tables will turn in the future, and you will be able to repay the favor.
2. Find a good therapist. I think people tend to be afraid of the stigma that surrounds therapy. Take it from me: My clients who utilize counseling during their divorce could have a much easier time with the process than those who try to deal with it on their own. While I may be able to “counsel” you a little bit, I am not a trained therapist and I will never pretend to be one. Remember, however, that similarly, your therapist is not a lawyer. When working as a team, your attorney and your therapist could get you through some of the hardest situations, but you must remember to keep them both keyed in to get the most out of the their expertise.
3. Picture your future. Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs may be, I tend to think that things happen for a reason. It may sound clichéd, but all too often in my life I have been presented with an opportunity that might never have come about without a past event. Some call it the “butterfly effect”—where one small change could lead to a largely different outcome. Divorce is hard. It could cut deep wounds that must be nurtured in order to heal. Instead of dwelling on that pain, however, ponder what could happen after it dissipates. Picture your future. Was there a hobby you always wanted to try? A class you wanted to take? An organization you wanted to volunteer for? Did you have dreams of traveling the world, changing your career, or joining a yoga class? Instead of viewing this divorce as the end of the world, use it as a jump-start to change up your routine and focus on yourself. Find yourself again … Figure out who you are and who you want to be.
So, is there life after divorce? There absolutely is. It may be an adjustment, but with the right attitude, you could move on to have a happy, healthy, fulfilling life, complete with new memories and breath-taking moments that you never thought possible. Never forget that just like the rainbow that stretches across the sky, sometimes life could be most beautiful after a storm.
This article was originally published in West Michigan Woman Magazine on February 26, 2013. It can be viewed here.