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  • Abby Rosmarin

Stay Focused. Be Realistic. Know Yourself.

As is frequently acknowledged, divorce is experienced by many as a significantly stressful life event, just falling after the death of a spouse as ranked by the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory.

And, if you are engaged in a battle about the terms of your divorce, including issues related to, for example, financial security or the well-being of your children, compounded with the many unknowns of the process, such as when it will end, the cost involved, whether the outcome will be fair as well as quite customary concerns about what your future will bring in terms of companionship and happiness, you could suffer in a chronic state of high stress. Chronic stress can interfere with your ability to effectively function and contribute to an overwhelm of negative emotions.

It is not uncommon during divorce to experience a loss of confidence, increased irritability and anxiety. A colleague poignantly shared that during her acrimonious divorce she had low confidence in terms of parenting, being a friend and being a person.

Since how your divorce progresses will likely affect your ability to cope, when considering the process that is right for you, it is important to thoughtfully assess what you think you can manage given, for example, your temperament, attitude towards conflict, ability to adapt to change, emotional bandwidth, level of hostility, support systems, resources and hopes for the future.

My advice? Keep your focus on your long-range goals that are aligned to your personal assessment. Try to engage in a problem-solving process to address your divorce and the restructuring of your family that will best support you achieving your goal(s). Seek appropriate and trusted guidance to help.

Some ideas to consider: Are you the person that you want to be as you transition through divorce? Think about what is driving the conflict and your own role. Are you bogged down in the minutia of the fight to the point where you lose sight of what really matters to you? Do you want to be in battle or engage in mutual problem solving? Do you want to make decisions for yourself or have a third party make the decisions (because, you may think, that sometimes any decision would be better than the confusion that exists – which may be the best path under the circumstances).

While it is true that you cannot control your soon to be ex and that life is nuanced and complicated, I have found that people often have a more productive influence over their divorce process if they assess and continually reassess whether their expectations are realistic, focus on how to construct a more positive experience instead of fixating on what is wrong and remember that the present moment is not forever.


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