After more than twenty years of profession and after accompanying my clients on the difficult path of separation and divorce, I have developed these tips for my clients whom I gladly share here.
#1 THE AWARENESS THAT IS BEING CROSSING A DIFFICULT MOMENT
The separation period can be very heavy, regardless of the reason for which you split up. It can really be heavy, turn the world upside down and make your job difficult too, often staying productive is really difficult.
There are things you can do to overcome this moment of instability.
First of all, it's important to recognize that it's okay to have such different feelings. It is normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated and confused, these feelings can also be very intense.
One can also feel anxious about the future. You have to accept what you feel with the knowledge that such reactions will diminish over time. Even though the marriage was a disaster and separation is truly liberating, venturing into the unknown is still scary.
#2 ONE STEP AWAY
Coping with the chaos caused by marriage breakdown is a huge task. There are concerns related to the emotional state and children (if any) require a lot of attention. There are a thousand practical things to do, such as finding a new home, checking financial resources, managing properties and, most importantly, understanding how to organize children's time.
It all seems terribly daunting and impossible to accomplish and that until you break the business down into smaller parts.
You have to take it one step at a time; go slowly. Tackle the most pressing things first like a house to live in and then gradually start dealing with the other issues. Eventually everything will work out in the best way.
#3 TAKE TIME
You need to give yourself permission to feel and function at a suboptimal level over a period of time. It is normal to have a lower level of productivity at work or to take care of others differently from the way you are used to. No one is a superman or a superwoman; you need to take time to heal, reorganize and reactivate your resources to the fullest.
#4 DO NOT LOOK BACK
Looking back and continuing to mull over what happened slows the recovery. It is important to realize that a chapter of life is closing: accepting the loss and going through the pain is the only way to proceed. It is necessary to forget the image that one has of oneself as husband or wife, forget all the plans that you have made for family life and, sometimes even the very concept of family. Breaking old habits and changing expectations about where you're going is a winner. Material possessions can also be sacrificed. However, it's not all a loss. You can learn from what happened to create the next stage in life. You will need to take an honest look at yourself and your role in the relationship.
It may be asked what part was played in the separation and what was learned from what happened? This may require the help of a professional, but it's worth it. Sometimes small changes can make a big difference in how relationships are conducted.
#5 DO NOT HESITATE TO ASK FOR HELP
Sharing feelings with friends and family can help get through this period. Consider joining a support group to talk to others in similar situations. Isolating yourself can only increase your stress levels, reduce concentration, and hamper your work, relationships, and overall health. You don't have to ask for help if you need to.
#6 FIND A LAWYER SPECIALIZED IN FAMILY LAW
From the start YOU NEED a lawyer who can advise you on what is possible or not possible. Specialized legal advice even when there are the first signs of a family crisis is never a waste of time and money: knowing exactly your rights and duties is the secret to managing a good agreement and not risking mistakes.
#7 GOING WELL
Take time to play sports, eat well and relax. Maintain normal and healthy lifestyle habits as much as possible. It is necessary to try to avoid making important decisions or decisions that can upset your life until the situation has stabilized. We must stay away from alcohol, drugs and self-prescribed medications which are not a means of solving family problems rather they only lead to other problems and worries.
#8 AVOID LITIGATING AND "FIGHTING" WITH THE EX PARTNER
If a discussion starts to turn into a "fight" it is better to suggest a break, try to postpone the discussion or, if this is not possible, it is better to leave or hang up the phone. Better go for a walk!
#9 TAKE THE TIME TO EXPLORE YOUR OWN INTERESTS AND THINK WHAT YOU REALLY WANT
In the vast majority of cases, divorce is a contradictory situation. In order to minimize the confusion, arguments and interminable arguments, you need to be sure of what you want to achieve and, if possible, state it clearly, leaving no room for doubt. Don't think you can guess what the other person may or may not want, might do, etc. We need to ask precise questions and demand equally precise answers. If, for example, you want to stay in the family home and be the placing parent of the children, it is important to say so.
In meetings, formal and informal, it is necessary to explain one's reasons in the best possible way in a calm, civil and reasonable way, always leaving room for an agreement.
#10 THINK POSITIVE
It's certainly easier said than done, isn't it? Things may not be the same, but finding new businesses and friends and moving forward with reasonable expectations will make this transition period easier. Flexibility is needed. If you have children, family traditions will still be important, but some may have to be changed or adapted. Creating new family activities is often a solution.
Life will return to normal, even if a "normal" being different from what was originally thought.
#11 PROTECTING CHILDREN TOGETHER
If you have children, here is a short list of suggestions that can help children and young people cope with parental separation.
Reassure yourself and listen to yourself. It is necessary to verify that the children know separation and divorce is not their fault.
We need to listen to children and ease their concerns, be compassionate but direct in their answers.
Try to keep your children's daily and weekly routines as familiar as possible.
Providing a coherent discipline by both parents is essential.
Since children can share their time with both parents separately, make sure to agree in advance the time to go to bed and wake up, the time to return, the time for homework and study, time for entertainment and TV and all other daily decisions, plus any punishments.
Children need to know that they can rely on parents. Making and keeping realistic promises is good practice as well as not over-confiding your feelings about separation and divorce.
There is absolutely no need to involve children in the conflict. Avoiding arguing or speaking negatively about the other parent in front of the children is essential. You must not in any way use them as spies or messengers, or let them take a side.
#12 CONSIDER SEPARATION AS AN OPPORTUNITY
Initially, the separation is experienced as a real catastrophe, it is thought that there is no way out of a really critical situation.
Life seems chaos, people are sick and self-esteem is at an all-time low.
The good news is that this period is short-lived and that what we initially see as a calamity can be transformed into an opportunity for growth and positive change.
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