This blog is excerpted from an article by TJ Carver at guyvorce.com entitled “How To Keep It Together When Divorce Blindsides You.” We highlight those parts of his article that apply to moms and dads, men and women equally when they are hit with a surprise divorce. The link to Mr. Carver’s full article is found here. We feature this article because the words are so clearly heartfelt and spot on. This is not just good advice, it’s crucial. You’ll be wise to take it to heart.
So much of my divorce was on-the-job training. I learned an abundance of lessons from the successes and the failures of others. There are many details, but all the elements can be boiled down into three main steps to follow to navigate the storms of divorce with the best possible outcome:
- Take care of yourself. Divorce is second from the top of life’s greatest stresses, behind death of a spouse. No matter how you enter the pattern, you will be tested to your limits. Without a doubt, you have to see to your kids’ needs and your legal case, but you fail both if you aren’t at your best. Never in your life will so much be riding on your performance. You must take care of your health—through exercise, diet, and rest—while also maintaining your mental focus on areas you can control and avoiding toxic mental spirals into frustration, regret, and rumination that you can’t control. Above all, stay focused on positive thinking.
- Take care of your kids. They need you, a strong you. Divorce will rock their foundation. You can’t control how they will react, but you can be there for them when they need you. Despite how you feel about their mom, they need her too. In my case, I had my ex over a legal barrel after my ex absconded with them across the country. Full custody was mine for the taking. But the kids needed both parents. I knew them and I knew their relationship with both of us. So, despite pressure from attorneys, family, and friends; I chose the custody arrangement that fit their best interests. You, and only you, know your children and what they need. It will take deep soul-searching, but you can determine what the best situation is for them and never lose focus of that goal.
- Take care of your case. Odds are you will need legal help to get through a divorce. No matter how strongly you believe in your desired outcome as being the best for your family, if you haven’t attended to the details of your case, you may not get to your solution. The legal system is slow, so the best advice I can give when it comes to taking care of your case is to be slow as well—meaning methodical. You don’t have to agree to anything right away. Listen, get informed, and take time to think things through before you make any decisions/commitments. The arrangements being worked out now will be binding and guide your future relationship with your kids for years to come, so be dedicated to the process and clear about what you want.
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